Discover Vintage America - May 2014

Mysterious 'Averill' eludes identification

Q: I have two pictures that are prints by an artist identified as Averill that hung in my home growing up. One is a white open rose and one of yellow roses. "Averill" is in the left hand corner and "Reliance Picture Frame Co 2-6-1942" is on the left hand corner of the prints. On the back of both is "439" and they were purchased for 49 cents at a Maxwell variety store with the number 1053 47 on the sticker. They are in their original frames. How can I go about determining their value?

A: Questions about this company and artist come up often and while I have never been able to locate much information on either I will let you know what I have found. Reliance Industries of Chicago, IL was the parent company with several divisions going back to the late 1930s or early 1940s. They had the "Reliance Picture Frame Co.", "Reliance Print Co." and the "Reliance Co." Basically, they purchased lithographs and prints in a variety of sizes at wholesale prices for resale to the public but they also had a staff of artists who would paint original pieces. Lithographs or prints were then made from the original paintings.

The prints, frames and prints in frames were sold through the local variety stores, Kreske, Woolworth, and Ben Franklin. They were inexpensive and for the most part very pretty prints in a variety of frame styles.
You will see quite a few paintings by known artists and then there is Averill. I have been researching Averill for years and cannot find any information indicating who this artist might be. My conclusion is that Averill was a staff artist and this was their alias or nom de plume. Reliance Industries was purchased by Condecor Inc. around 1972. At some point in the 1980s Condecor Inc. became Decorel but I cannot find any further use of the Reliance name associated with this company. In 1995 Decorel was sold to a company, or person, named Newell.

On your prints the date of printing is clearly noted, "2-6-1942". The numbers on the back were internal company numbers to indicate either the print or the style of frame. The average price on an Averill print in original frame in excellent condition is $30-$35.


Leopard figurine by Porzellanfabrik Karl Ens


Q: This porcelain leopard figurine has been in my family for as long as I remember. Can you please tell me who made it, based on the photo of the mark I have included, and the value if any of this piece.

A: This is a beautiful piece with amazing detail. It was made by Porzellanfabrik Karl Ens of Volkstedt, Thuringia (Germany.) The factory operated under this name from 1892-1972. The mark in green was used before World War II and in blue after the war until the closing.

The secondary market value of this lovely piece in excellent condition is $150-$175.



**Note from Michelle

Thank you to everyone who came out to the KCI Expo Antique Show for appraisals. It was a pleasure to meet each of you and see the wonderful items you brought in to have appraised!

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. If you would like an appraisal on an antique or collectible please go to for a one on one appraisal.