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Satsuma, a city in Japan, has a special meaning to collectors. An easy-to-identify, cream-colored pottery with a crackle glaze and intricate decoration is also called "Satsuma."

The vases, which depict detailed Japanese landscapes and people, have brocadelike backgrounds and edges. Warriors and gods often are shown. The inside and outside of bowls have similar overall decorations. The colors typically used were beige, green and other muted shades, often accompanied by gold decoration.

Styles changed during the period from 1918 to 1930, when art nouveau and art deco designs - especially pictures of irises - became popular. After 1930, the pieces had fewer delicate decorations, larger figures, darker colors and added black accents. "Monumental" vases, which are taller than 18 inches, are especially popular today. They're large enough to look as if they should stand on the floor.

The age of antiquity

Q: When is an item considered an antique? I always thought it was at 75 years, but someone told me it's 100.

A: The U.S. government defines an antique as an item that is at least 100 years old. The government uses the definition to determine the duty on imported items. Different rules apply to firearms and cars. Many collectors use the word "antique" to refer to "old" things, no matter what their age. Others say an antique is about 75 years old. The word "collectible" covers everything else.

New dish, old pattern

Q: I have a cobalt-blue pickle dish with raised lettering on the inside that reads, "Love's Request Is Pickles." A figure of a woman from the waist up is embossed in the middle of the oval dish. Please tell me something about the dish.

A: You have a modern reproduction of an Actress pattern pressed-glass dish originally made in the early 1880s. Originals came in only clear glass or clear glass with an acid (frosted) finish. Any Actress glass in another color is new. The actress shown on the pickle dish is Kate Claxton (1848-1924), a popular New York theater actor in the 1870s. Other actors are pictured on other pieces in the pattern. No one knows for sure where the pattern was made originally, but experts think that the manufacturer was one of three Ohio companies. Reproductions were introduced in 1957 by the Imperial Glass Corp. of Bellaire, Ohio. Imperial used a new mold for the dishes and continued to make them for years. Its reproductions are embossed "IG" on the bottom.

Send questions to Antiques, Ralph and Terry Kovel, c/o the St. Petersburg Times, King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019.


Current prices

Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.

- Karo Cookbook, 1910, little boy and girl with baby on cover, black and white, 52 pages, 5 by 6 1/2 inches, $35.

- Paladin Have Gun Will Travel fan-club member card, 1958, CBS copyright, 2 by 3 1/2 inches, $45.

- Steiff Mama, Papa and Baby bears, yellow mohair, black eyes, black embroidered noses and mouths, jointed, peach felt pads, 1980s, 6 inches, 14 inches and 16 inches, $355.

- Rookwood ashtray, harlequin in yellow suit in corner, marked, c. 1929, 4 by 6 by 6 inches, $460.

- Sampler, Mary W. Curlin, dated 1836, "Favour is deceitful and beauty is vain," 17 1/2 by 16 1/2 inches, $570.

- Tiffany sterling coffee service, round form, dome tops, ball finials, scalloped base, scrolled border, c. 1902, 43 pieces, $1,840.