Figures are flights of fancy
Q: This is a photo of a small figurine that my mother had for about 70 years. It stands around 4 inches tall, has little blue wings on its back, and is in excellent condition. It has a matte finish and is marked on the back with the number “M 6540.” Anything you can tell me about my figurine will be appreciated.
A: You have a Kewpie figurine. Kewpies were the creation of American illustrator and author, Rose O'Neill. They first appeared as whimsical illustrations in the magazine, Ladies Home Journal, in 1909. They were small, chubby elf-like figures with tiny blue wings. It is thought O'Neill's baby brother and classical cupids from ancient mythology were her inspirations. Early bisque figurines were made in Germany and not all were marked with the name of the manufacturer. As popularity and demand grew, Kewpie dolls and many related objects were produced. Collectors are most interested in those that have a maker's mark and are in unusual poses. They have been reproduced by several companies, including Lefton and Ardalt. Many are still being made today. Your circa 1940 Kewpie would probably be worth $125 to $150.
Q: I have enclosed the mark on the bottom of a water pitcher that I have. The pitcher is decorated with blueberries, apples and pears, has a lid, and is in perfect condition. It belonged to my grandmother, and I would like to know more about its history.
A: The mark on your pitcher was used by the Edwin M. Knowles China Co. They made semivitreous dinnerware and utility ware in West Virginia, from 1900 to 1963. Your pitcher is part of their utility-ware line that included cake plates, bowls, batter pitchers, shakers, pie servers, and water pitchers. In the early 1900s, they ranked as the third largest dinnerware manufacturer in the United States. Inexpensive foreign imports and high labor costs resulted in the demise of the company. Your water pitcher would probably fetch $35 to $50 in an antiques shop.
Send questions to Anne McCollam, P.O. Box 247, Notre Dame, IN 46556.