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Sikorski's Attic 8/31/14: Nazi emblem likely not military, but origin uncertain

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Dear readers: The following information comes from a specialist in Nazi memorabilia, Professor Giles, whom I wish to thank for the help. The original question was about a metal Nazi eagle emblem. 

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Dear John: I am afraid I cannot come up with a definitive identification of this metal eagle-and-swastika emblem, which the owner thought, I believe, might have come from an automobile. I am not sure that that is the case. A Nazi Party official would have had a pennant flying rather than something like this. 

The size you give would make it approximately 23 by 19 centimeters, which is smaller than other examples I have seen. Most commonly, these emblems were used on the sides of railroad cars, and several of those have sold recently at auction in Germany. In 2007, one with a size of 90 by 40 centimeters sold for 1,100 euros, or about $1,485 at the then-exchange rate, and another sized 69 by 35 centimenters sold for 1,300 euros, or about $1,755.

Last month, a similar one sized 60 by 34 centimeters sold for 750 euros — about $1,185. However, it is important to note that the detail in the design of each of those is much finer and sharper than the somewhat crude casting of the emblem in your photograph. 

Then there is the question of what sort of eagle it is. The rule of thumb often quoted is that a state or government eagle looks to the left, while a Nazi Party eagle looks to the right. Yours looks to the right. But this does not always hold true.

For example, while army eagles look to the left, those on German Navy cap badges look the other way. So there is no easy test for this. Because it looks to the right, we can probably rule out military vehicles. It would not have graced the entrance to a building, because those would have had a painted emblem on an enamel sign, or in the case of an important office, something carved in stone.

So I am sorry to leave you with a mystery. In terms of its value, because of its small size I am going to say around $300. I hope this helps a bit. — G., Internet 

Dear G.: My personal thanks for your time and expertise, you are a gentleman and a scholar. 

Dear John: My uncle was in the Army in World War II. After the war, he was stationed in Japan and sent back a set of china. I only have this one photo of a creamer. I wonder if there is any interest in this type of china. — M.R., Internet 

Dear M.R.: You have Geisha Girl porcelain. It was made in Japan in large quantities for export to the United States, England, and other countries during the early to mid-20th century.

It typically depicted young women wearing kimonos in everyday scenes of life. Collectors are generally interested in the porcelain figurines and have very little interest in the dinnerware. So when dinnerware sets come up for sale, prices are very low.

Dear John: Here is a photograph of a bronze statue. It is 16 inches tall. There is a signature on the base of “W. Boehm.”

We purchased the bronze at an auction a few years ago. The auctioneer was not familiar with it and said it came out of a private collection in Miami. What can you tell me about it? I paid $250 for it and just after the auction, a dealer offered me $500 for it. He had arrived too late and said he was willing to pay that price.

Should I have sold it? What do you think? Any information will be appreciated. — R.M., Internet 

Dear R.M.: You have a lovely bronze bust likely depicting one of the beauties of the era. I am not sure who she is.

The style of the bronze is Art Nouveau, created by the French during the late 19th century. The style spread throughout Europe, England, and America. The height of the period was 1890 to 1910. The Art Nouveau style influenced all the decorative arts, paintings, and furniture.

Art Nouveau has been a category of collecting for decades. I was not able to find any information about the signer of your bronze. I think the piece is a reproduction made within the last fifty years. Potential dollar value is catch-as-catch-can.

One way or the other, I think you paid a fair price; the dealer may have thought it was an original. 

John Sikorski has been a professional in the antiques business for 30 years. He hosts a call-in radio show, Sikorski’s Attic, on WJUF (90.1 FM) Saturdays from noon to 1 p.m. Send questions to Sikorski’s Attic, P.O. Box 2513, Ocala, FL 34478 or asksikorski@aol.com.