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Friday, September 3, 2010

Antiques Rail Road Show

          Occasionally I will drop in on the television program Antiques Roadshow.  I am fascinated to hear the experts identify items that people have brought in and often quite surprised at the appraised values quoted for some of these items.  I doubt whether I have any of the real treasures like those shown on Antiques Roadshow, but I do have some oddities about which I am curious.  Perhaps one of the readers may be able to tell me about the item I present today.

Train Bookends: Main display view
            This pair of black locomotive bookends is made of what I would presume to be called plaster, but may be ceramic.  They are painted with a dull black finish trimmed in gold with red and white accent colors.  The bookends have gold colored lettering that says "Japan". The bookends measure 3 in. high, 1 3/4 in. wide and 6 in. long.   They are hollow with green felt on the bottoms.

             I have seen somewhat similar bookends on websites, but those are described as having a glossy paint finish.  Also I have not seen any with the coal car included as with the ones I have.  The ones on the websites have been priced at anywhere between $5.99 and $35.00--not anything like those prices on the things they show on television.   I probably wouldn't ever want to sell them (unless I was offered more than was worth keeping them to collect dust), but I'd like to know their history.

              I do have the personal history as was told to me.  I was given these by my grandmother in the mid-1980s when she was having an estate sale so she could move out of her grand home in Morgantown , West Virginia and into my aunt's home, which was in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.   She gave a few items to her daughters and her grandchildren rather than sell them.  These would have been items that had some special value to each of us.
The normally unseen opposite side of the locomotive.
View from the top (note hole in smokestack)

               The story concerning the train bookends was that they were supposedly a gift I had given to my grandfather when I was a child.   I had chosen this gift because he had once worked on the railroad and also in the coal mines.   The trains had the appearance that they were made out of coal.  This is what I was told when the bookends were given to me by my mother.

                This would probably have been in the 1950s and since I would have been quite young, my mother would have actually purchased these and attributed the gift as coming from me.  Since the markings on the ends indicate that they were made in Japan, it seems like that these would have been made in the 1950s.  I don't remember giving these to my grandfather, but that's not surprising under the circumstances.   My mother no longer remembers where these came from either, but she says she recalls having seen them displayed in my grandparents' house.
View of the front ends of the locomotives.
                A few years ago I dug these out of a box and put them out on a bookshelf in our living room, where they currently remain on display.  This pair of bookends is so lightweight that it really wouldn't be practical to use them as bookends, but they sit there in mute testimony to a mysterious past.

Inside portion that would rest against the books.
Note "Japan" in gold at the bottom.

Enlargement of the "Japan" signature    
                 Do you ever watch Antiques Roadshow?   Do you own anything that might be worthy of appearing on the show?   Do you have any special oddities like my trains that you wish you knew more about?    Can you recall when the term "Made in Japan" was negative, and sometimes even an insult?  Can anyone tell me anything about my bookends?


  1. I have been watching Antiques Road Show here for years.I find it very interesting as I find your book ends interesting. I wonder what stories they could tell. I don't have anything of value that anyone would be interested in as far as I know, more sentimental value I would say.

    Have a good day.

  2. Well I have no idea about what kind of value those things might hold, but I can tell you that they are awesome. Trains? That hold books up? Cool.

    I don't often catch Antiques Roadshow, but I find it fascinating when I do manage to.

    Today's guest blogger is Emilia Plater!

  3. I love that show and wish the re-runs would be replaced with new.

    I'm trying to find value on some cream pitchers I inherited which have the label "Occupied Japan." And yes, I remember when Japan made objects were seen as less than desired.

    Thank you for your lovely comment. I think you do write as well, if not better. :D
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  4. I think the time frame is accurate. The bookends HAD to be made after we (the U.S.) formally turned over administration to the Japanese government. Why? Because items made in Japan at that time said, Made in Occupied Japan.

    I think your bookends were made shortly after that period because, if you look at how the P is written in Japan it's not uniform...actually none of the letters are. Your bookends may have been handfired and painted, however that's done.

    Anyway, after this brief period, items were stamped Made in Japan.

    I lived on Okinawa in the late 60s when the island was an American territory and saw many items labeled in these various ways.

    Hope this helps.

  5. I wouldn't remember giving them as a gift to my grandfather, either. Heck, I don't remember what I had for dinner last night!
    I have quite a few items from Japan and Thailand, but no idea what they're worth.

  6. I watched some kind of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW on British BBC earlier and it was interesting seeing how people bring all kinds of junk and then it turns out it something valuable, although I must admit the British often deem some unworthy things as valuable, like some porcelain, ceramics or glass objects, cups, teapots and similar.

    The only antique thing I have is an English Cassel's dictionary from 1906. I found it pretty accidentally and I treasure it now as it might be expensive sooner or later. I even use it in my work because it has a lot of archaic terms and words which are very handy when I'm translating something from the past.

    I'm extremely intrigued by Alex's comment above - what kind of Japanese and Thai items does he have??? :)

  7. Matthew -- They are pretty lightweight so I don't know how effective they are for holding up books, but I do have them on a bookshelf.

    Jules -- I rarely watch "Roadshow" so I didn't know they were reruns. I think items marked "occupied Japan" are more valuable than the others, but I don't really know.

    Kittie -- I'm sure you are correct. The "Japan" markings almost look hand lettered.

    Alex -- I have a very selective memory as well and things all seem to fade togehter sometimes.

    Dezmond -- I was never one for understanding value of things. What is "valuable" to me is probably not to a true collector. But I never know I guess.
    Maybe Alex will tell us about the Japanese and Thai items he has. And I wonder if his wife knows he has them?

  8. I'm always looking at some of our items in the curio cabinet and wondering where on earth did we get THAT?

  9. Well Arlee, I can't say anything about the bookends except that I do like them! Our local library has a lot of different types of Antique books. Maybe you could give your library a try?
    I used to watch Antiques Roadshow all of the time. I have to admit that it's been awhile since I've watched it. I have a Reverse Painted lamp that belonged to my great-grandmother. It is in excellent condition and still works. I can't find a marking on it anywhere. I have looked them up at the library and they can be very valuable. But without a marking, I just don't know. I guess I should go to the Antiques Roadshow!
    Love Di ♥

  10. L.Diane -- We have mystery things scattered throughout our house. I think my mother knows where all of her knick knacks came from as they were all gifts.

    Diana -- If your lamp came from your great grandmother then it may well be prime subject matter for Antiques Roadshow. Investigating these things can certainly take time for those of us who are inexperienced.

  11. Hi Lee .. just written a longish post & Blogger's blogged me out?! Unimpressed!! Still I did make a cup of tea in between ..

    AR - I do watch the BBC one sometimes and am amazed at what gets valued etc .. they find some amazingly valuable items sometimes.

    The stories of how people obtained some items is amazing too - the Victoria bracelet .. that was dropped, found - handed in to the police .. not claimed and so returned to the finder .. it was quite valuable!

    Your locomotives are lovely & I'm sure will be valued by the family and your friends .. & Kittie threw some light on their age ..

    and I love Dezmond's dictionary .. I have a set (24 volumes) of Encyclopedias of 1926 .. and the content is so much better than today's versions!

    Enjoy the long weekend .. Hilary

  12. Those are very cool! My dad would have loved them. He loved anything to do with rail roads :)

  13. Thanks for the follow!
    Those trains look interesting and I find myself wishing they were heavy enough to actually support your books.
    I'm a follower now too, and look forward to your upcoming posts. Have a great weekend.

  14. Did you not get my comment this morning?

    I have been watching The Antique Road show in the UK for many years, I have nothing of value but like to see the look on people's faces when something rare turns up.
    I bet your train book-ends could tell a few stories.
    Loved the post.

  15. Hilary -- I've always liked encyclopedias, but sadly I think they may becoming less of a household fixture than they used to be.

    Jemi -- My grandfather was a big train fan. If I collected something, train curios might be kind of cool.

    MT --So glad you came to visit. Hope you will come back often.

    Yvonne -- How odd! I did get the following comment in my email this morning:

    I have been watching Antiques Road Show here for years.I find it very interesting as I find your book ends interesting. I wonder what stories they could tell. I don't have anything of value that anyone would be interested in as far as I know, more sentimental value I would say.

    Have a good day.

    Don't know why it didn't show up on this page and didn't happen to notice it until you brought up. At least the bookends have a story for me but I wish I knew the entire story. Thanks for checking back Yvonne.

  16. Hey, I'm dropping in from the bbq. Nice to meet/follow ya!

    Your bookends are lovely. Hope you "track" down the needed information. :) Antiques Roadshow was one of my mom's most fav shows. I miss watching it with her.

  17. Antiques Road Show has always been a favorite of mine. I'm always thrilled when I see folks surprised that they've owned a treasure for years.

    Wish I could shed some light on your bookends.

    Personally, I have an chair that I would love to get some insight about. Guess I'll just wait till Road Show comes to my neck of the woods.

  18. Angie -- Thanks for stopping by. Hope you will come back again.

    Paula-- If it's a big chair I hope you have some help toting it down to the show. More importantly, I hope it's worth a lot.

  19. Hi Arlee - I've been seeing your name all over the place - happy to find you at the barbeque and see your site! I love Antique Roadshow especially the English version. I love how weird everyone's mouth gets just before the expert tells them what their treasures are worth! So interesting.
    I like your beautiful trains!
    I have all sorts of weird dollies that I always want checked out plus a few aboriginal type knives...
    who knows!Jan Morrison

  20. I don't know anything about your bookends, but I wish you luck. There's a place online - starts with a K - like Korbels or something .... you can maybe find something there. They used to publish books on values of things, too, but don't know if they still do. Maybe the library. KOVELS, that's it. I'm not smart - I Googled LOL. Good luck :)

  21. I don't ever remember seeing those in our living room. I do like the story a lot though.

  22. Jan -- Hello! Glad you could stop by. Dollies and aboriginal knives? Now there's a combination. Hope you will revisit soon.

    Carol-- I've heard of Korbel's publicatios. Maybe I'll check for their site. You had had to google "lol"?!! Me too!!! lol

    Emilee - I don't know how long those have been in the living room. They sit on the top shelf so they are easy to miss.

  23. Purrowling in from the blog party - because it said 'bird' and I am a cat...but no, I do not chase birds! I rather like your train ends and my father has railroad enthusiast cousins who definitely would!

  24. What my husband does is searching on Ebay for the same item and it gives him an idea of how much his "treasures" may be valued. I am not much into antiques, but I find fascinating that some of those items are valuables, especially when accidentally found at thrift shops or garage sales. "A man's trash is another's treasure"!

  25. Cat -- Thank you for the visit and hope you will return.

    Doris -- I've looked for other things on Ebay to see what they were worth. Maybe I'll see if anyone has any bookends like these. I'm not really an antique person either--at least I don't go out looking for them and buying them.


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