July 18, 2014 at 1:00 am

Trash or Treasure?

Delicate porcelain bust hails from Bohemia

Bennett Weiss of Dexter has questions about this small bust. (Robin Buckson / The Detroit News)

“What do we have here today?” independent appraiser Brian Thomczek asked Bennett Weiss at a recent appraisal session held at Judy Frankel Antiques, part of the Antiques Centre of Troy. “That’s what I’d like to find out,” Weiss replied, handing over a small bust of a woman.

Weiss said he inherited the unglazed, 6½-inch tall porcelain piece from his mother before she passed away at the age of 98.

“She had told me that she purchased the bust many, many years ago from an antique dealer in New York City. The dealer called it ‘Teplitz,’ ” he wrote, asking for help with identification. “The bust is light green with a gold worn painted base. When turned over on the inner base (there) is a stick figure marking and the numbers 2924. I would appreciate it if you could provide any accurate information regarding the maker and date of this item and an appraisal of it current value.”

Thomczek, a longtime appraiser, said he was unfamiliar with the term “Teplitz” or the marks on the base but that the numbers were probably production or identification numbers. “I haven’t encountered Teplitz before, but this definitely looks European,” he told Weiss. “I would date it to the early 20th century, probably not the 19th century, due to its condition and materials.”

Internet research did reveal some additional information — including additional pieces for sale on online auction sites and references to Teplitz, which turns out to be a place, not a manufacturer. According to the handy collectors’ website www.kovels.com, Teplitz “refers to art pottery manufactured by a number of companies in the Teplitz-Turn area of Bohemia during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Two of these companies were the Alexandra Works, founded by Ernst Wahliss, and the Amphora Porcelain Works.”

Thomczek said it is possible the piece was indeed made in this area, and that he’d appraise it at $125-$150 because of the quality of the workmanship and its attractiveness. “It has a few condition issues, which brings down the value a bit. Because it’s delicate, it’s very easy to have it break or chip over time, so you should be careful with it.”

Weiss said he’s always wondered about it and that people remark on it when they see it in his house. “People always ask me what it is when they see it,” he said, saying it reminds him of his mother and that he was happy to have someone finally take a look at it and give him some additional information.

“She didn’t have many antiques, but she loved this piece.”

About this item

Item: Porcelain bust

Owner: Bennett Weiss, Dexter

Appraised by: Brian Thomczek, independent appraiser

Estimated value: $125-$150

Do you have an object you would like to know more about? Send a photo and description that includes how you acquired the object to: The Detroit News, Trash or Treasure?, 615 W. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit, MI 48226. Include your name and daytime telephone number. You may also send your photo and description to trashortreas@aol.com. If chosen you’ll need to bring the items to an appraisal session. Photos cannot be returned.