Antiques & Collectables

My antique fair purchase “The Puzzle Jug” & one of my Alan Carter’s Price Guides.

Collect the past to invest in your future

a column by Rex Nicolls

What adventures in collecting have you had since our last contact?

This morning I had a 6am wake up and travelled over to Port Macquarie to the Antiques & Collectables Fair, held at the sports stadium. I had a wonderful time, though I couldn’t entice Jenny out to the early morning call. It was an 8am opening and I was there chafing at the bit with a small diversion to a garage sale across the road from the venue. Never let a chance go by. You might just come across the treasure you have been waiting to find for years. I didn’t this morning, but it will come.

The fair had many exhibitors and loads of interesting things to look at and discuss. It was great to catch up with lots of friends and acquaintances with interests in the same area of collecting. My favourite purchase, this morning, was a novelty piece, called a puzzle jug. I bought it from the stall of a Sydney dealer who is very well known in collecting circles. From 1985 until 2012 Alan Carter published a book – Price Guide to Australian Antiques & Collectables. He, his family and employees travelled to the Antique shops of Australia taking photographs of the interesting items and then compiling them into an 800 page book with descriptions and a price range. My ideal job description!

My kids didn’t ever have trouble finding me a Father’s Day gift. It always involved money towards the coming years price guide. What better present for a Dad. It was always greatly appreciated.

Unfortunately, Alan retired from the book side of the business and for the last few years there has been no Price Guide. The great news from our talk this morning is that his daughters are going to revive the guide and there is to be a new one next year. Joy!!!

Many different designs of puzzle jugs bearing quotations, mottos or rhymes were produced from about 1880 to 1914 at the Lambeth factory, mostly in brown salt-glaze stoneware. Puzzle jugs had from three to six spouts around the rim and usually carried a short humorous verse referring to the difficulty of drinking from them. The applied decoration varied but was normally quite simple.

The secret was to cover all the spouts except one with the fingers and also cover the small hole beneath the handle in the same way. In this way the liquid could be sucked through the uncovered spout. These jugs have always been very collectable but such is their design that they are often found with broken or restored spouts which tend to get knocked off.

These jugs were made as a fun item and often would have been made by junior assistants.

I recommend collecting to all. Find the category that suits you or take the plunge and collect a wide variety of unique and interesting treasures or limit yourself to one area. It is always fun and can be profitable.

If you have items you are not sure of, I may be able to help with information, appraisals or sales. I love looking at old and interesting. Ring Rex – 0427 546 880.

Happy collecting!

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