Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Kay Finch Collectibles

“Go West Young Man.” I’ve heard this expression all my life, but it takes on a new meaning when looking for antique and collectible treasures that seem “out of place.” Items made in California but found at an estate sale in Vermont would be considered “out of place,” and these out of place items stand a very good chance of being bought right and sold for a decent profit to a West Coast collector.

Kay Finch pottery is a good example of this. To me, these look as if they were made by a child out of common ceramics material, but to the collector, they are fabulous works of art. Finch started making her humors animals in the 1930's and opened her studio in the 1940's. Her work was considered so unique at the time, there was a ready market for anything she produced. After World War II, cheap foreign imports caused a lack of interest in the more expensive pieces she produced in her studio, and soon after her husband’s death in 1961, she closed her studio. Over 700 designs were produced from her studio, and when it closed, she continued to work for many more years for other companies.

Although she is best know for her animal ceramics, many of which were modeled after her own animals, nothing was beyond her range, including people. Collectors today are willing to pay almost anything for her one-of-a-kind pieces, and you can find over twenty different marks she used. After sharing a few prices on the early items Finch produced, you’ll probably be on the lookout for items bearing her name. You might even find her items very cheap at a garage sale because they don’t appear to be very valuable. Many of her pieces are “NPA”, which means no price available, or priceless.

Take a look at some of these prices: Best in show Afghan no. 5490 - $3000; Petey the Donkey no. 4776 - $3000; Chinese Princess $6000 (and she is only 3 inches tall) and Grail the Shepherd no. 478 $1500. This is real money for these simple figurines. And, as unattractive as I find them, I must confess, they do make me smile. So, when you’re out looking, remember that it’s so important to be able to see things through other’s eyes. And just because it doesn’t appeal to me, it appeals to someone else, and that’s all that matters.

There is a wonderful book out about Kay and her life called Kay Finch: Biography-Identification-Values by Devin Frick, Jean Frick and Richard Martinez. This book can come in handy. As always, try to locate a second hand copy to be budget conscious.

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