We’ve all experienced lost opportunities. One of mine may have occurred in an antique mall in Pasadena, California.
I was wandering through the mall and spotted a china pitcher in the shape of a dog. The black and brown smiling dog was in a sitting position, with his front paws forming the spout. I debated whether or not to buy him, but reluctantly put the little guy back on the shelf. Not buying him may have been a mistake.
Dog-related antiques and collectibles are as varied in type as they are in market value. Dogs have been the subject of art since primitive times.
Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics show hunting dogs. Down through the centuries, those of us who love dogs have created and collected everything from original oil paintings of dogs to salt and pepper shakers in the shapes of dogs.
Julia Szabo, “Displays of Affection,” Country Living, quotes New York City art dealer William Secord about the popularity of dogs as subjects of paintings.
“Queen Victoria famously adored dogs, which was one of the reasons for the flourishing of dog paintings in 19th century England,” Secord said.
Painters in America then adopted dogs as subjects, accommodating patrons’ requests for the era’s most poplar breeds and several paintings of mixed breed dogs. 19th century oil paintings of dogs can range in price from $1,500 to $50,0000.
The breed portraits have been popular. However, mixed breed portraits are so rare, an 1885 portrait of a mixed breed dog named “Pointy” by John Singer Sargent recently sold at Christie’s for $432,000.
There are other dog-related antiques and memorabilia that are of interest and available to collectors. These categories of dog items include old photographs, dogs on both antique and modern buttons, cast iron dogs, toys (puzzles and games) advertising pieces and brand name items, cookie jars in the shapes of dogs, dog license tax tags, and dog collars, to name a few.
Some collectors search for antique photographs of dogs, including daguerreotypes, the first practical form of photography; tintype images; and several other types of images, which trace the history of photography in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Collectors interested in dogs on antique buttons can choose from a variety of designs, including different breeds and different materials used to make buttons.
Diana L. Hefti, “Collecting Dog Button Part I: Dogs on Antique Buttons,” lists metal, glass, jade, plastic, ivory, mosaic, wood, fabric, horn and many other media used to make the buttons.
Dog collars are another category of antiques and collectibles. Erin Fogarty, “Antique Dog Collars — From Spikes to Precious Stones,” notes dogs have worn functional and decorative collars for thousands of years.
“Records from the Greek Battle of Corinth during the fifth century BC report that 50 dogs guarded the city and alerted the town of the attack. Just one dog survived, and he was awarded a pension for life and a silver collar in recognition of his valor,” according to Fogarty.
Functions of dog collars ranged from protecting a dog’s neck to a symbol of status for the owner. Fogarty notes the 17th to 19th centuries saw the lined metal collar become popular. In the 19th century, dog registration/license tags came into more widespread use, necessitating a cheaper collar for the masses. Thus, leather collars began to appear in the Victorian era.
So, if you’re interested in dog art antiques and memorabilia, there is a collectible out there for you. While you’re out there looking, if you happen to come across a small black and brown dog pitcher with its front paws making the spout, will you give me a call? I’d like to know what it’s worth today.