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Zsolnay pottery deserves its lustrous reputation

Listings of antiques from A to Z almost always end with Zsolnay, the famous Hungarian pottery. The company was started in Pecs by Vilmos Zsolnay, and the main product was everyday earthenware. By 1900, Art Nouveau-style ornamental vases and bowls with colored glazes and luster were being made.

Today, collectors favor the pieces with luster glaze. The Zsolnay luster was gold early in the century; the luster on modern pieces is a green-gold. The company still sells a line of luster figures and vases.

Comic brush holders

Question: When were ceramic toothbrush holders made in the shape of comic-strip figures? I have the Three Little Pigs, Mickey Mouse and the Old Woman Who Lived in the Shoe. What others were made?

Answer: We have heard of collectors with more than 70 different toothbrush holders. The unusual holders were made in the 1920s to 1950s by many companies. Comic-strip figures such as Gasoline Alley characters, Orphan Annie and Sandy, Moon Mullins and Kayo, Andy and Min, Uncle Willie and Emmy, and Uncle Walt and Skeezix were made. Nursery characters such as Old King Cole, the Butcher, Baker and Candlestick Maker, and the Three Bears can also be found. Many Walt Disney characters and some radio show figures such as the Lone Ranger were popular, too.

A rare "Skippy" holder has a movable arm. There were also toothbrush holders with animals, fish, ducks, clowns, soldiers or pirates. One type hung on the wall; another type stood on the shelf. Up to six toothbrushes could be kept in these holders.

Plates sold with gum

Question: I have a small cardboard license plate that must have been given away with bubble gum. It is a 1950 Pennsylvania plate. Who made these? I have been collecting the small license plates given out by the Disabled American Veterans.

Answer: In 1949, Topps, the bubble-gum company, issued license-plate cards in the gum. They offered more in 1950, then again in 1953. There were 75 different cards in each year's set.

Current prices

Les Bernard pin and earrings, flower on stem, sterling silver: $110.

Blown twist green opalescent tankard water pitcher, green twisted handle: $225.

Chelsa Keramic Art Works vase, flattened flask shape, applied handles, suspended rings, blue brown drip glaze, 13\ in. h.: $396.

Leviton plastic motion lamp, flying ducks, water and trees: $450.

Tin lithographed merry-go-round, 4 tin cars, musical, c. 1945, 10 in.: $550.

Pocket compass, 14K yellow gold, with barometer, 1\ in. diameter: $605.

Tiffany Studios picture frame, etched metal and amber slag glass, gilt grape pattern, 10x8 in.: $770.

Heubach character doll, black bisque shoulderhead, molded and painted black hair, black cloth body, composition lower limbs, 13 in.: $1,100.

Decoy, Black-bellied Plover, shore bird, spring plumage, original paint, some shot, filled factory back crack, Mason, c. 1905: $2,750.

Prices may vary in different locations because of the conditions of the economy.

Send questions to: Antiques, Ralph and Terry Kovel, c/o the Times, P.O. Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122. Questions of general interest will be answered in the column. The volume of mail makes most personal answers or appraisals impossible. If you send photographs, include a double-stamped, self-addressed envelope.