Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

April 2, 2013

Copper collectibles

Linda Hamer Kennett
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — From the warm glow of kettles hanging on a pot rack to the jewelry with which we adorn ourselves, copper has a richness to which many of us are drawn.

Archaeological evidence would suggest that people have been using copper for at least 5,000 years. It’s high resistance to corrosion has made it a popular choice for electrical wiring, water pipes, coins and boiling pots, while it’s aesthetic appeal makes it a popular choice for jewelry designers and interior decorators. Copper has found its way into our lives, our homes... and now into the world of collectibles.

The category of “kitchen collectibles” has been greatly enhanced by the presence of copper. Cooking pots are in high demand, as well as, frying pans and measuring spoons. Copper mercantile scoops, once used for staples at the old general store, now have found their way into today’s kitchens, as have utility pieces such as scuttle buckets and ladles.

Slightly harder to find but worth the search are high relief Victorian era molds. Pie, cake, culinary and biscuit molds in the form of animals, fruit, florals and geometric designs are the most common find. Less common are the beautiful chocolate molds in the female form or the likeness of an Indian. Many molds are unmarked or have only a number or the initials of the artist who designed them.

Jewelry collectors are showing an increasing interest in fine copper jewelry. Renoir Arts and Crafts cuffs and hinged bangle brackets, of solid copper, are especially popular with their twisted strands of copper wire flattened to give the illusion of semi-circular loops. “Swiss cheese” bangles, named for their wide ribbon of copper punctured with holes, have made their way on to the “must have” list, as well as pieces incorporating the use of geometric shapes, chunky arrows and balls of various sizes.

Although copper jewelry is categorized as “costume,” many of the pieces from 1930-1950 have come to be respected for their quality and artistic design. While copper is considered a base metal, rather than a precious metal like gold or sterling, you can expect fine pieces from this era to come with a hefty price tag.

The popularity of copper home decor, from the Arts and Crafts movement of the ‘30’s, has seen an upsurge in recent years. These pieces will be Medieval in their appearance, with hand-beaten textures and a very dark patina. Lamp shades, plain or with slag glass inserts, as well as trays, bookends, candlesticks and vases are demanding top dollar, even in today’s soft market. Reproduction abounds in this area, but the quality is extremely poor presenting no real problem with differentiating between an imposter and an authentic piece.

To many, in this area of collecting, the name Roycroft is synonymous with quality. A smattering of pieces were produces from 1906-1911, but these are very difficult to find. More common, yet highly collectible, are their pieces from 1920 through the early 1930’s. Many of their works from this era were marked for easy identification. In addition to Roycoft watch for the names Keystone Manufacturing, Bradley and Hubbard and Maddie Sadofski.

The market has been flooded in past years with “new copper” pieces, sometimes misrepresented as antique. Older pieces will be uncommonly heavy for their size with a rosy hue, while newer pieces will be light weight and have a “pinkish” tint. So, look twice before you buy.

Linda Hamer Kennett is a professional liquidation consultant specializing in down-sizing for seniors and the liquidation of estates and may be reached at 317-429-7887 or lkennett@indy.rr.com.