Beautifully painted, gilded bowl could be valuable

 <span class="cutline_leadin">MADE IN USA:</span> This beautifully painted and gilded bowl was made in Geddes, a small village in upstate New York.
MADE IN USA: This beautifully painted and gilded bowl was made in Geddes, a small village in upstate New York.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Q: This china bowl belonged to my grandmother and was given to my mother in the late 1930s. It is approximately 5 inches wide and 2.5 inches deep. We have kept it in our china cabinet for about 40 years and have now decided we’d like to know some of its history and what it is worth. Any information would be appreciated.

N. and J. B

A: Most of the china bowls like this one were made in either France or Germany and sent undecorated to the United States. Once here, they were rather naively painted by American amateur china painters. Currently, these do not appeal very much to the tastes of most modern collectors.

But this lovely bowl is different in several respects.

First of all, it was made in the United States in a small village named “Geddes” on the western edge of Syracuse, N.Y. The antecedent of the company responsible for making this bowl began working in Geddes in 1841, and the owner’s name was William H. Farrar.

Farrar initially specialized in making salt-glazed stoneware, but later made some red ware styled to look like Rockingham (a mottled colored ware). Farrah survived in the ceramics business because the Erie Canal brought him coal to heat his kilns and clay to make his pots. Neither commodity could be found around Syracuse.

This business lasted until 1868 when Farrah sold the company to Peter Coykendall, who tried to establish a company making white wares. He hired an English potter to help in this enterprise, but it never came to much.

Then in 1871, the struggling company was purchased by a group of local businessmen and a new pottery was founded that was named the “Onondaga Pottery,” after a tribe of the Iroquois nation. This is the company that made the bowl in today’s question.

Onondaga started by making white earthenware for table and toilet, but they soon expanded their lines. The mark on this piece looks a bit like a worm with its tongue sticking out and “China and O. P. Co.” below. This was in use between 1893 and 1895 on a variety of Onondaga wares.

To us this looks like very fine porcelain, but it may be the body that was developed at Onondaga by James Pass (another English potter) in 1888, and in 1893, it won the medal for translucent china at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. This is all very well and good, but the monetary value of this bowl actually depends on who decorated it.

If the signature on the bottom (which we cannot read in the photograph) is that of an amateur decorator the value of this piece is rather modest — say in the $250 to $400 range. But if it is a signature from Onondaga’s in-house decorating department (and the professionalism of the painting and the impasto gold work suggest it might be), the value might be as much as four to five times that amount.

The Onondaga decorating department was formed across the street from Onondaga in 1884 and called the “Boston China Decorating Works.” It burned down in 1886 and Onondaga hired the displaced workers to form one of America’s first in-house decorating departments. Let’s hope N. and J. B.’s piece got its paint job here.

Write to Joe Rosson, P.O. Box 27419, Knoxville, TN 37927, or email If you’d like your question to be considered for the column, please include a high-resolution photo of the subject, which must be in focus.

Read more Home & Garden stories from the Miami Herald

This impressive and rather rare vase was made in England by a company that was founded in 1820 to make utilitarian items out of stoneware.


    How old is this vase from my great-grandfather?

    Q: Attached are photos of a vase that once belonged to my great-grandfather. It is marked “Coulton, Burslem” and is decorated with painted poppies and a three-dimensional dragon. It is marked with an emblem with a crown on top and the number 1922. It is 221/2 inches tall. Would it be possible for you to tell me how old it is and the approximate value?

A native ladybug on a firebush in Terri Stephens’ yard.


    The gardener and the ladybugs

    A citizen-scientist documents the ladybugs in her South Dade yard for a research project.

This Wellworth two-piece elongated dual-flush from Kohler comes in a right-side flush option.

    Ask a plumber

    Looking for the ‘right’ flushing toilet

    Q: Our toilet is in the corner of our bathroom very close to a wall on the left hand side of the toilet. I have always been frustrated that the flushing handle is on the left side of the toilet, in a tight spot next to that wall. We’re planning to replace this toilet. Can I get a new toilet with the flushing handle on the right side of the toilet?

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category