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posted: 11/10/2013 5:51 AM

Is dragon-shaped vase a hot commodity?

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  • This vase was made in the town of Quimper, Brittany.

    This vase was made in the town of Quimper, Brittany.
    SHNS photo courtesy Joe Rosson and Helaine Fendelm

By Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson

Q. Attached are pictures of a vase that my mother bought in the 1920s in an antiques shop in Brittany, France. I am told that the scene on the front was copied from a painting by Théophile Deyrolle and is titled "Les Joueurs de Boules, 1887." I would greatly appreciate any information you can provide on this Quimper piece. The vase is 11½ inches tall and 15½ inches wide.

A. Not everything bought in an antiques shop is antique. When this vase was bought in the 1920s, it was a perfect example of this observation.

It is reported that the mark found on this piece (a conjoined "HR" and the name "Quimper") was used only from 1895 to 1922. So, this lovely vase is barely an "antique" (i.e., more than 100 years old) today.

The town of Quimper is located nearly 400 miles northwest of Paris, and pottery has been made in its center since the 1890s.

Companies in Quimper, including the Henriot brand in today's example, produced a kind of pottery called "faience," which is tin-glazed earthenware similar to classical Spanish and Italian majolica and Dutch Delft pottery.

The tin glaze provided a white surface that originally was meant to suggest the white background of Chinese porcelain, and provided a beautiful background for painted decoration -- either blue and white or polychrome. The scene shown on this particular dragon-handled, pillow-shaped vase is indeed based on Deyrolle's 1887 painting "Les Joueurs de Boules" -- or "The Boules Players."

Henriot Quimper is famous for its dragon-handled vessels, especially bowls, U-shaped vases and this pillow-shaped piece. Some of the dragons seem to be flying, others are clearly standing on four legs, while the ones in today's question are shown with their snouts to the ground. If it is in perfect condition, this late 19th- or early 20th-century vase should be valued at $3,500 to $4,500.

• Contact Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson at Treasures in Your Attic, P.O. Box 18350, Knoxville, TN 37928.

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