Treasure: Mystery of charming heirloom piece solved

Khristi Zimmeth
Special to The Detroit News

Many of us remember a time when Easter meant colorful new hats and the traditional Easter Parade. They even made movies about it. While there are still some who observe that rite of spring, that tradition has gone the way of many others, unfortunately.

There are some collectibles that are also part of our well-dressed past. Carol Ghenic of Dearborn recently brought one in for an appraisal session at DuMouchelle auction house downtown, where appraiser Corinne Henzi-Schultz took a closer look.

The item, a small porcelain piece with holes in the top, appeared to be hand-painted and had the letters “RS” and “Germany” on the bottom. Ghenic gave the Henzi-Schultz a little more background information about the piece — or at least as much as she knew about it.

“It belonged to my grandma,” she told her. “I have had it on the living room shelf for years, but never really knew what it was. I’ve often thought maybe it was used for sugar, but really don’t know.”

It didn’t take Henzi-Schultz long to fill Ghenic in on her mystery item. “At the time this was made, women wore great big hats and needed something to hold them down,” she said. “Women then used hat pins, and hat pins needed to be stored somewhere so they didn’t get lost, hence the hat pin holder, which is what this is.”

Henzi-Schultz said Ghenic’s piece probably dates to sometime after 1910, which is what the mark on the bottom indicates. “RS Germany was used from approximately 1910 to about 1950,” Henzi-Schultz said. She said she doubted that the piece was an example of the popular china painting pastime, which was a common craft around the turn of the century. “There was a time when ladies of leisure would paint plain porcelain as a hobby, but I think this was made for export as is,” she said. “It’s very typical of what was coming out of Germany at that time.”

The popular website offered a little more information about the manufacturer. “RS Germany is part of the wording in marks used by the Tillowitz, Germany, factory of Reinhold Schlegelmilch from 1914 until about 1945. The porcelain was sold decorated and undecorated. The Schlegelmilch families made porcelains marked in many ways. RS Germany was printed in red, orange, green, and blue. See also ES Germany, RS Poland, RS Prussia, RS Silesia, RS Suhl, and RS Tillowitz.”

Henzi-Schultz said Ghenic’s piece has a small chip, lowering the value, which would be about $40 at auction if it were in better condition. “There’s not a lot of demand for these anymore, but it is charming and well made.”

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?, 160 W. Fort St., Detroit, MI 48226. Include your name and daytime telephone number. You may also send your photo and description to If chosen, you’ll need to bring the items to an appraisal session. Letters are edited for style and clarity. Photos cannot be returned.

About this item

Item : Hat pin holder

Owner : Carol Ghenic, Dearborn

Appraised by : Corinne Henzi-Schultz, DuMouchelles

Estimated value : Approximately $40, if perfect