Discover Vintage America - June 2014
Figurine is by Austin Productions from the 1970s
Q: I was given this figurine of a little boy reading a book with his dog beside him. He looks to be a bronze but seems to be very lightweight for a bronze figurine. He is marked "Austin Prod. Inc. and measures about 6.5" long and 4.5" tall. Is there anything you can tell me about him?
A: Austin Productions was an American company that created a very large inventory of decorative figurines and garden statuary. I have not been able to find reliable and accurate information on Austin Productions Inc. but it seems that they were in operation from around the late 1960s to the mid-1980s.
Several methods were used to create the decorative figurines; Durastone, polyresin, bronze over plaster, bronze with a polyester resin mixture and aluminum. The limited edition figures are from the "Icarus" line and these were the most expensive. They were crafted using the lost wax method of bronze casting.
Austin Productions was a very prolific company that employed artists who created items just for the company but also made replicas of well-known sculptors. Most items are signed by the artist and also note the year of production. The limited edition pieces are numbered.
Prices vary widely on the secondary market with most of the value being based on the quality of execution of the piece as well as decorative appeal and desirability. The limited edition lost wax figures often command higher prices.
Based on the description of your "Bookworm" figurine he is most likely made of Durastone and would sell for $30-$40.
Bentwood smoking stand dating to circa 1930
Q: A friend of mine gave me this strangely wonderful twig table with a log cabin sitting on the very top. I have been able to find a photograph of this very same table online but have not been able to locate any information about it or what it might be worth. I am also a little curious as to whether or not it had a specific function. Any help that you can give me would be greatly appreciated.
A: I agree with you, it is indeed strangely wonderful. You have a bentwood smoking stand dating to circa 1930. The wood is willow or other pliable wood. At first glance I would have thought that it was a folk-art, one-of-a-kind piece but then you go on to say that you have been able to locate photographs of the exact same table.
Without a manufacturer label or signature I will not even venture a guess on who might have made this smoking stand. More than likely a cottage industry company or crafter made it.
The inside of the log cabin more than likely once held a cigar humidor or possibly a cigarette holder.
Your vintage bentwood smoking stand has a resale value of $75-$125 depending upon the market in which it is sold. It has a wonderful folk-art aesthetic and also falls in to the "tobaccoiana" (smoking) collectibles genre.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 www.discoverypub.com/ask_michelle for a one on one appraisal.