Q: My husband inherited a pair of vases from his grandmother. I showed them to a friend 30 years ago who said they were not valuable, but granny apparently thought differently since she specifically mentioned them.
They are large, hand-painted vases with blue and gold trim. What can you tell me? — E.M.
A: The vases were likely made in France by Samson Ceramics or Samson, Edme et Cie during the first quarter of the 20th century. They are copies of Meissen porcelain made in Germany, complete with Meissen's crossed-swords mark.
Samson was in Paris and later moved to the suburb of Montreuil. The factory was founded in 1845 by Edme Samson (1810-91) as a porcelain decorating business.
In 1873, son Emile (1837-1913) began copying fine porcelain made by other factories and makers in Europe, China and Japan.
There is debate about whether Samson was a forger. Some experts claim Samson's efforts were clumsy, but its objects have fooled a lot of people.
Samson owned a huge collection of porcelain that was used to make copies, from mold-making to decorating. Samson also designed its own decoration.
At one time, Samson had a bad reputation, which may be why your friend waved off the vases. The pieces were sold ad hotel and boardwalk auctions.
Samson sold out in 1969 and auctioned showroom stock in 1979.
Samson porcelain has become collectible in its own right. Your pair of vases would retail for $250.
Q: My father was born in 1906 and remembers a piece from his childhood that was a painted scene with details such as bits of bark, moss, seeds and other natural materials attached to it.
There is one corner leaf missing from the frame, otherwise it is in very good shape. Is this item a typical style of art or is it an oddity? — C.W.
A: There is plenty of odd art. Your three-dimensional, amateur painting could be called a relief sculpture, assemblage or construction, and was painted and constructed at the end of the 19th century. It could be European or American.
The frame is a typical factory-made, naturalistic frame of the 1870s.
It is worth about $100, but could be priced at a lot less if discovered at an estate or yard sale.