I saw a beautiful antique Chinese porcelain bowl at an auction. It was blue and white with painted dragons, and it had an unusual shape — rounded with a flared rim. The description called it a “zhadou,” but did not say what that meant.
A zhadou is a bowl for discarding used tea leaves and other table scraps. They usually have a globular body, shoulders, a flared rim and a short foot. The shape resembles a squat vase. They are often porcelain, but some are made from pottery or cloisonne. Some auctions may list them as spittoons. In the early 20th century, the word “zhadou” was translated into English as “leys jar” from a Dutch term. Now, it is usually translated as “waste bowl” or “slop jar,” but these are not the same thing.
European and American waste bowls, often part of 19th century silver or porcelain tea sets, are shaped like conventional bowls with straight sides and a round base. Some may be more elaborate, with features like a pedestal base, flared rim or side handles. Slop jars are not part of a table setting. They usually have handles and often have lids. They are used in a bathroom.
Q: I have an antique clothes iron that belonged to my great-grandmother. It’s cast iron with a wooden handle. It weighs 5 pounds and shows its age. Can you tell me anything about the iron and its value?
A: Irons like your grandmother’s were heated on a stove burner or in a fire. The wooden handle made the hot, heavy iron easier to use. A feature of solid cast iron is heat retention. Today, they are often used as decorations. They make great doorstops and bookends because of their heavy weight and manageable size. A flat iron similar to yours recently sold for $30.
Q: I love vintage kitchen gadgets and utensils. One of my favorite kitchen gadgets is a milk glass Sunkist juicer. Can you tell me a little about it?
A: Sunkist introduced glass reamers in 1916 to encourage eating oranges. The first ones were transparent green. They were sold in variety stores and grocery stores for 10 cents. You could also order these reamers by mail, for 16 cents in the United States, or for 24 cents in Canada. Sunkist sales soared. In mid-1926, McKee Glass Company of Jeanette, Pennsylvania, started producing the Sunkist reamer. They produced reamers in a rainbow of colors which included clear and opaque glass. The color varieties included 18 shades: white milk glass, transparent green, jadite, pink, custard, yellow, Fry opal, dark jade, crystal, caramel, blue milk glass, Crown Tuscan, green Fry, ivory, black, teal blue and butterscotch . Color mutations turn up regularly and are unexplained, making these highly collectable. We recently saw a milk glass Sunkist juicer for $15, which was a pretty good buy. Online they sell for $25.
Q: Advertising for beer and other alcoholic drinks is everywhere. I have a lighted (it still works) Budweiser King of Beers sign with pheasants eating corn on the cob. It has a curved plastic cover. Is it valuable?
A: Breweriana is very popular these days, especially signs. While neon signs are the most popular and getting very high prices, yours is a popular brand, Budweiser, and is in working condition. It is worth between $190 and $225.
- I have a very old chest that was already an antique when we bought it 40 years ago. I was told it was called a “bonnet chest.” It’s 56 inches high and has nailed rabbet dovetailed joints. I don’t know much about it or how to find out. I might be willing to sell it.
A: Bonnet chests have a compartment or drawer large enough to hold a woman’s bonnet. Large bonnets were popular in the 1800s, but bonnet chests were made even after the fashion changed. Rabbet joints have a recess in the edge of the wood, where it is joined to another piece of wood. This technique has been used since the 1400s and is still being used, so it doesn’t help date the piece. Without a maker’s name or provenance, it’s not possible to tell the age or value of your bonnet chest. Value depends on the style, wood and condition. A mahogany English Regency chest with two bonnet drawers, c. 1850, 56-inches high, sold for $406. A walnut and poplar chest, c. 1825, 49-inches high, sold for $175. You can get an idea of value by searching online to see what similar bonnet chests have sold for at auction. It is easier to sell furniture locally and save on shipping.
TIP: Use an old nylon stocking bunched into a ball to clean a rough-surfaced mirror frame, carved wooden piece, or other irregular surface.