Pitcher and wash bowl basin

sterling-china-pitcher-and-basinMichelle Knows Antiques is a great way to find the value of your antiques. Submit your antique for appraisal on our easy to use form. Here is a recent appraisal from Michelle’s column in Discover Vintage America:

Q: I just bought this pitcher and wash bowl basin. I know it was made by Sterling Co. But can you tell me the value and when it was made?

A: Your question did not include a photograph of the backstamp or mark on the bottom of either piece so I am going to assume that “Sterling Co.” is included in the mark. From the photograph I can determine that the pieces are not metal so I can say with all certainty that they are not sterling silver so that moves us on to when the pieces were made and by whom. Without seeing the manufacturer backstamp I will give you some history as well as provide a couple of photographs of backstamps and hopefully will hit the nail on the head. If not, please send me a photo of the marks and I will respond via email.

 Some American pottery, porcelain and china companies changed hands, and names, so often that it is sometimes difficult to keep it all straight. This is the very reason that antique dealers and collectors spend a lot of money each year on quality reference books. Here we go…..

 The Sterling China Company was established by B.E. Allen in 1917 with a factory in Wellsville, Ohio and later had offices in East Liverpool, Ohio. In the early years production consisted of small items such as cups, bowls, coffee mugs, ashtrays, etc. as the years went by new wares, shapes and designs were added to the line.  From the very beginning the primary customer base of the Sterling China Company were hotels and the company continues to operate today as a major susterlingchina-wellsville-markpplier of hotel dinnerware. During WWII they supplied a tremendous amount of china to the military and also manufactured china for a few railroad companies.

Over the years Sterling China acquired other hotel ware factories such as Scammell, Lamberton, the Puerto Rico factory of Iroquois and Wellsville. It is not unusual to see Sterling China marks that include one of the above names. Shortly after WWII, Russel Wright designed a few styles for Sterling China and MOST of these pieces are clearly marked. If the backstamp includes “East Liverpool, Ohio” or “Wellsville, Ohio” then it too was made by the Sterling China Company.

Frank A. Sebring opened a factory in Sebring, Ohio around 1918 under the name of Sterling China Company. It did not operate under this name for very long due to the already existing company in Wellsville and it was changed to the Sebring China Co.. This name went bust pretty quickly too due to the similarity in name to the Sebring Pottery Co. in East Liverpool, Ohio. Mr. Sebring once again renamed the company to Limoges China Company. In the late 1940s the company was threated with a lawsuit from the Haviland
interest in Limoges, France over use of the word “Limoges” and was settled when Mr. Sebring successfully sterlingchinamark1renamed his company the “American Limoges China Co.”.

Sebring under the Sterling name are marked very simply with Sterling Co. and sometimes include a crown.dd to the confusion, Colonial Pottery Company of East Liverpool, Ohio which was in operation from 1902 – 1929 also  mark with the word “Sterling” above a wreath which encircles stylized iniial Pottery Co. beneath the wreath is the word “Porcelain.” mer Laughlin also used the “sterling” work on backstamps early in his career. Taking all of this in to consideration and based on the style of your items I would date it to the early to mid 1900s. As to which company actually made the wash basin and pitcher set I cannot say with any certainty without viewing the backstamp.

Resale value, no matter which company made it, is $45-$50 if in excellent condition.

I certainly hope that this has helped to answer your question and not add further confusion. One thing is for sure, the marks on pieces give us a tremendous amount of information.

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 pawn shop prices are about ½ or less of resale value.

Written by Michelle Staley

Michelle Staley has over 35 years of experience as an antique collector, picker and dealer. She has done hundreds of insurance and IRS appraisals in addition to just satisfying another collector or dealer’s curiosity concerning what an item is, does or its worth. Other experience includes her work as a forensics consultant and in archeological identification and dating.

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  1. I have an almost complete set of wellsville China. But the makers mark is different. They are a buggy, lantern & on plates fence . Mark says wellsville china co. Made in USA , with an image of a painter board. Are they of value, and if so how much?

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