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A pair of Homan pewter candlesticks, circa 1830 to 1860, Cincinnati, Ohio. In the mid-19th century, Cincinnati was booming and production of all kinds of goods increased rapidly, as the city’s industries found themselves well positioned to be supplying the frontier. Utilitarian wares such as pewter were in great demand, and in 1847, Prussian-born Henry Homan (1826-1865) and English-born potter Asa Flagg (1813-1854) began a partnership manufacturing pewter.

Despite the short nature of the partnership (Flagg moved on in 1851), the company produced a prodigious amount of traditional pewter from utilitarian wares like candlesticks and coffee and tea services to ecclesiastical items like chalices, baptismal bowls and alms dishes. They are perhaps best known for their baluster-form candlesticks which are instantly recognizable and which were manufactured in a variety of sizes, from 4.5” to 14” in height, with larger sets for ecclesiastical use. (Early pieces were mostly unmarked, but occasionally they appear with “Flagg & Homan” imprinted in an oval mark.) Between the access to markets provided by the Ohio River trade and a candle mold machine that they patented, Homan and Company (Henry Homan died in 1865) continued to grow rapidly and by 1888, the business occupied a full block of East 7th Street in Cincinnati and ran two shifts with one hundred employees.

By the turn of the twentieth century, the company, which would become Homan Manufacturing Company, had refocused production to sell silver-plated wares for a time, but ultimately would experience a revival in the 1930s, manufacturing coffee and tea services, pitchers, trays, and even their classic candlesticks, again in a variety of sizes, in their traditional style (marketed as “made as it was over 80 years ago”) while marking them “Flagg & Homan Pewter.” This mark makes the later versions easy to distinguish, along with the fact that the candlesticks do not have the push-up candle ejector that the originals have. Homan Manufacturing Company would remain in operation until 1941.

Because their candlesticks have become iconic pieces and because they are earlier than most other extant pieces, they tend to be much more popular with collectors, although Flagg and Homan is still a rather regionally focused market. Non-candlestick forms can typically bring $200-500, but candlesticks, depending on size and condition, can bring as much as $1,000 or more. The smallest sizes and those rare pairs with engraved decoration tend to be the most desirable.

Loevsky & Loevsky art glass table lamp

Loevsky & Loevsky art glass table lamp

Nothing drives away a cold, dark night like the warmth of lamplight, and if you’re interested in antique lighting, you certainly have plenty of options! At Prices4Antiques, we’ve seen searches for oil lamps, table lamps, floor lamps, hanging lamps and even bicycle lamps, and over the past week, the most popular lighting objects have been a Badger Brass Company bicycle safety lamp, a Loevsky table lamp with water lily art glass shades, a Hinks and Sons cut crystal oil lamp, an elaborate Aesthetic Movement floor lamp from Hollings & Company, and a Danish Modern copper pendant light designed by Jo Hammerborg. There are so many beautiful options to choose from at auction, so get out there and let your light shine!

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Copeland triple frog spill vase having cobalt bulbs

Copeland triple frog spill vase having cobalt bulbs

Man may have mastered fire millennia ago, but until fairly recently, historically speaking, fire and fire-tending have involved a great deal of equipment and attention.  As with many things, we tend to take for granted providing light and heat, illuminating a page, heating up a meal, achieving an accurate temperature to bake bread, but getting a fire started wasn’t always so easy.

Especially after oil lamps and gas lights started to become more common in homes, offering a steady source of a small flame, household mantels began to sport objects known as spill vases.  “Spills” were twists of paper, longer than today’s kitchen matches, that were intended to burn long enough to transport flame from lamp to fireplace and to allow the lighter to reach far enough into the fireplace to light a fire.  Spill vases, since they were typically intended for a home’s more public rooms and/or were in a position of display on a mantel, are typically very decorative, often some sort of ceramic form with paint decoration.  Staffordshire made thousands of them in just about every imaginable form, from courting couples to hunters, whippets to elephants.

Spill vases should not be confused with match holders, which are smaller containers, often of a later manufacture, although often every bit as decorative as spill vases.  Usually manufactured as small, individual or connected double containers, match holders come in a variety of forms, from simple glass containers to figural ones in all sorts of shapes.  (This one with a figure of a small boy putting on his socks is particularly cute.)  Forms like boots or shoes were popular, but many are in animal or insect form: flies, owls, a donkey hauling baskets.  Match holders are also occasionally found with several other small containers meant for use as a smoking set that is designed to hold cigarettes and other tobacco-related paraphernalia.  Smoking sets, often manufactured by the same companies that sold desk sets, like this gleaming example from Tiffany, can be elaborate, beautifully decorated objects.  Both spill vases and match holders occasionally utilize some natural design in order to create a design with multiple holders, like the terrific Majolica spill vase with frogs and lilypads pictured above.

We’re up to our ears in match holders at the moment, after a recent specialty sale by Whalen Auction of over 550 match holders from a single owner’s collection, so there are certainly many examples in the database.  A category/type search in the Prices4Antiques database for “kitchen and household”/”match holders” will show you the most recent examples, including the ones from this incredible sale!

-Hollie Davis, Senior Editor,

Cobra snake brass figure candlestick

Cobra snake brass figure candlestick, sold at Whalen Auction, April 2010

A single-owner collection of antique lighting sold on April 15, 2010, by Whalen Realty & Auction, Ltd. The sale was held at the company’s auction gallery in Neapolis, Ohio. The cataloged auction featured approximately 390 lots that were sold without reserve. There was no buyer’s premium.

A relatively sparse crowd of roughly 40 bidders participated from the floor, competing against a fair number of absentee bidders.

The seller, an Arkansas collector in his 80s, passed the goods to a younger generation of buyers. “He decided to sell what he had, and he didn’t care what it brought,” said auctioneer John Whalen.

Prices were mixed throughout the day. “The good stuff brought good money, and the other stuff you could hardly give away,” he noted. contributing editor Don Johnson