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Antiques Considered - November 18, 2009

A gentleman from the lower Northern Neck is moving to Florida and has asked about his two Champleve pieces. One is an urn with vibrant enamel inserts, and the other is a vase that has been made into a lamp. The urn is stamped “Made in Japan.”
The urn dates from the early 20th century, between 1900 and 1930. It is in the traditional form, and appears to be in fine condition. It is worth $75. The vase unfortunately has been drilled in the process of making it into a lamp, and the initial hole is quite visible. The dark tone of the metal was intentional, and does not indicate it has tarnished in comparison with the brass of the urn. The lamp is worth $100.

Many people confuse Champleve with Cloisonne, the two most popular forms of the mixture of oriental enamel and metal. The latter has much thinner brass dividers separating the enameled areas. Champleve, on the other hand, has thicker dividers, and a coarser texture to the enamel. Normally, Cloisonne, due to its finer texture, is more in demand, but Champleve has a market of its own as well.
Both of these wares bear the effects of the Internet, which has caused their values to decline. As pieces become available online, the traditional prices that antique shops have been able to charge have come down considerably. Searching for a particular piece is not what it used to be, and I should not be surprised if pieces similar to these might be available online for even less than the figures I suggested.
A final word, if you own either Champleve or Cloisonne, never attempt to polish the brass. Both of these forms are oriental equivalents of the Arts and Crafts Movement in America and Britain. Natural discoloration of the metal is not only tolerable, but desirable. I have seen many beautiful pieces ruined by over-ambitious owners who applied their Brasso in heavy doses.
       Happy antiquing...
• Lisa and Henry Lane Hull operate Commonwealth Antiques and Appraisals, Inc. at 5150 Jessie DuPont Hwy. (P. O. 35) Wicomico Church, Virginia 22570. Write to him there, or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with pictures and descriptions of items you wish to have him treat in “Antiques Considered.” Please include a stamped, addressed envelope if you wish a personal acknowledgement.

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