COLLECTORS’ CORNER – Fort Myers Florida Weekly

This small enamel chest of drawers, marked “China”, dates from the beginning of the 20th century. SCOTT SIMMONS / FLORIDA WEEKLY

Issues surrounding immigration and trade deficits often make the headlines.

We focus a lot on origins.

But we are not the first.

As early as 1890, members of Congress were mulling over the origin of goods entering the country – enough that they passed the McKinley Tariff Act, which ensured that all imported goods were marked with the country of origin.

It turns out that William McKinley, later the 25th President of the United States, did collectors a favor – he helped us determine the date of manufacture of many of the items we’re looking for.

For example, we know that Japanese porcelain pieces marked “Nippon” date from between 1890 and 1920 – when US law changed again to require the country of origin to be spelled out in the English version of the name. This means that your grandmother’s porcelain plate, marked Nippon, is over a century old.

Items made between 1920 and the American victory over Japan in 1945 were simply marked “Japan”. The “Made in Japan” brand came next.

And the same goes for items made in China.

I recently acquired this lovely miniature enamel chest of drawers at a warehouse sale by Brass Scale Antiques in West Palm Beach – don’t tell my mom, but that might be what she’ll get as a gift. birthday next month!

The mirror, the comb, the powder box and the brush are covered with a turquoise enamel. The teeth of the comb appear to be made of bone or some other similar substance and the small powder box is simply marked “China”, suggesting that it predates the Chinese Revolution of 1949 when the country was virtually shut down to the West.

The set was clearly designed for export to Western markets – it is not uncommon to see miniature metal and porcelain tea sets, dishes and other objects. But I don’t think it was intended as a toy, although collectors of antique dolls could very well use a set like this as part of an exhibition. I rather think it was designed as a curio that someone can display on a shelf – if I had to guess the pieces are about 3 inches to the foot – most dollhouse miniatures are to scale. about 1 inch per foot.

There’s a whole tradition of miniatures that crosses cultures — I love the metal, porcelain, and enamel furniture sets that you see coming from Austria, France, and elsewhere.

These items are well traveled – one wonders where this set had been before landing in a display case at Brass Scale. Oh, the stories he could tell.

do not forget

West Palm Beach Antiques Festival — It’s Florida’s biggest monthly shows – and it’s an easy drive from just about anywhere. The next festival will be held March 4-6 at the South Florida Fairgrounds, 9067 Southern Blvd., West Palm Beach. Opening hours: 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. on Sunday. Admission: 9 a.m.-noon Friday: $25 Advance Purchaser (a three-day pass to the show); noon-5 p.m. Friday, all day Saturday and Sunday: $8 adults, $7 seniors. Information: 941-697-7475 or ¦

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