Discover Vintage America - January 2014

Ornate vanity mirror made by Iron Arts Company

Q: I found a beautiful ornate vanity mirror at the thrift store. There is a swinging pedestal in back and some cherubs around the oval frame. It is marked JM10 on the back. I am wondering when this was created, how much it is worth and also how I might go about restoring it. The frame is nearly all black but there are pieces of gold coloring showing beneath. Also what can I use to remove rust spots from the mirror? It is completely flecked though you can't tell from the picture. Thank you!

A: Your ornate iron mirror was made by Iron Arts Co. of Phillipsburg, NJ, it is style JM 10. The company began operation in 1955 and there is some debate on how long they stayed in operation. Some references say, 2003, others 1989 and still others 1960. The company was founded by John Zanarski and Melvin Friedman thus the JM or sometimes seen as J&M.

As for restoring it, if you want to take it back to the bare iron it would have to be sandblasted. Another option is to purchase spray paint in the color that you want it and spray paint it yourself. I have used the metallic gold a few times and love the results. If the flecks on the mirror will not come off by cleaning then they are defects in the silvering on the back. You can purchase kits at large home improvement stores to re-silver it yourself or you can have it professionally done. As to value, $40-$50 is what you could expect to receive for your mirror.


Lidded candy dish made by Tiffin Glass Co.

Q: I have a round, black opaque glass (not the dark amethyst) compote with lid. The lid and the bottom are surrounded with a silver rim. There is also inlaid silver on the entire outside of the compote. It shows two sailboats with waves and birds, there are crosses on the main sails. It is approximately 8 3/4 inches high. I would appreciate anything you could tell me about this. Thank you.

A: Your lidded candy dish looks like it was made by Tiffin Glass Co. They would make the glass portion of the item and then there were several companies who would do the silver overlay.
Rockwell Silver Co. did quite a few pieces with a Spanish Galleon and they are called the "Santa Maria" pattern. Without marks to tell us for certain who made the piece it is difficult to say for sure who did what but the style of the candy dish and the quality of the silver overlay lead me to these two companies. Your piece dates to the 1930s-1940s. The value for your lidded candy dish is $80-$100 USD.


Note: All prices given are for sale in a private sale, antique shop or other resale outlet. Price is also dependent upon the geographic area in which you are selling. Auction value, selling to a dealer or pawnshop prices are about half or less of resale value.

Michelle Staley is a Lenexa, KS-based dealer and researcher with 35 years of experience in the antique trade. Send questions with photos to Michelle to Please keep queries to one question; questions without photos of the item may not be answered. Michelle is also available for consulting and extensive research work beyond this column. Her online Q&A column is now active!