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Q&A on Collecting: Pottery business saved by moonshiners

Anne McCollam answers readers' questions about their antiques.
BY Anne McCollam, For The Oklahoman Modified: July 28, 2012 at 6:50 pm •  Published: July 30, 2012

Q&A on Collecting

Moonshiners saved business

Q: Enclosed is a photo of a canister set that we found in an old shed. The set includes five canisters with lids, and they measure in graduating sizes 6- to 12-inches high. They are in perfect condition. We would like to know the origin of the set and its value.

A: Your canister set was made by Ellis Products in Marshall, Texas. The firm was founded in the early 1900s by W. F. Rocker and sold to S.H. Ellis in 1905. In the beginning, they made crocks, jugs and canning jars. When glass-canning containers became popular in the 1920s, their business went into a steep decline. Timing is everything. It was the era of prohibition and they were able to turn a nice profit with a high volume of sales from crockery jugs that were snapped up by busy moonshiners. Hand-turned pottery on the potter's wheel was introduced around 1930. Ellis Products is still in business today. Your canister set was made in the late 1900s and would be worth $125 to $150.

Q: This mark can be seen on my set of porcelain dinnerware. It was handed down to me from my great-grandmother. I am 80, so this set must be over 100 years old. Originally, the set was a service for 12, but over the years, many pieces were broken and some are missing, so the set is not complete. There are 50 dishes left in the set, including serving pieces. Each dish has scalloped edges and is decorated with pink floral bands around the perimeter, as well as in the center. They are beautiful and in pristine condition. What can you tell me about my china?

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