$5 thrift-store find is work of artist Raul Coronel: Today’s Collectibles

Our collectibles this month serve to illustrate the importance of artistic works that can be attributed to well-known and respected makers. Both Raul Coronel and René Rickabaugh meet those criteria. Our other pieces, while somewhat unusual, were made for a mass market and do not have the high quality or artistic merit that would make them desirable for today’s collectors.


This ceramic plaque is by Raul Angulo.Courtesy of the collector

Raul Coronel ceramic plaque

Q. I purchased this ceramic piece at an assisted living thrift store some time ago for $5. There are a few hairline cracks but hard to pinpoint. It measures 25 inches high and 32 inches wide. Can you give me an idea of its value?

N.B., Southeast Portland

A. Your plaque is by Raul Angulo Coronel. He was born in Mexicali, Mexico, in 1926 and immigrated to the U.S. when he was 14. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps when he was 18, became a naturalized citizen and served honorably in World War II in the Pacific Theater. Later, he earned his Master of Fine Arts at the University of Southern California and studied with some of the most prominent names in the American studio pottery movement, including Susan Peterson, Marguerite Wildenhain and Peter Voulkos. In 1985, he retired from ceramics and devoted his time to writing. He has published three novels, the most recent in 2011. Coronel’s ceramic work can be seen in the permanent collections of numerous museums and it is highly collectible. At auction, you might see an estimate of $600-$900. A gallery specializing in midcentury design might ask $1,500-$2,500 for an example of this type. Quite a nice return on your $5!


This painting appears to be a very early work by the well-regarded Oregon artist René Rickabaugh.Courtesy of the collector

Rene Rickabaugh painting

Q. My grandmother gave this painting to me for my high school graduation in 1975. She bought it at a gallery in east county in the ’60s. She told me that the owner of the gallery said if she wanted to buy a piece of art from an unknown artist, he would suggest this piece. The gallery owner said the artist painted this picture of the River Queen when he was young and that while his brother was more well known, he thought the painter would one day become famous. I don’t know if it is an oil or acrylic painting. It is 16×20 inches and is in good shape.

L.K., Southwest Portland

A. Your painting appears to be a very early work by the well-regarded Oregon artist René Rickabaugh (born 1947). The style is quite different from his current work and even his work from the 1970s. Without seeing it in person, it’s difficult to say if it’s in oil or acrylic. His current paintings of similar dimension, in galleries that represent the artist, are generally priced at $7,000-$8,000 and more. However, as this work is so different, there probably will be a smaller number of collectors who would be interested. Based on recent results at auction, you might expect to see an auction sale of $300-$500. A gallery that specializes in the secondary market for Oregon and Pacific Northwest artists might ask $450-$650, depending on the condition. We are grateful to Beverly Hecht and Erin Marshall of ReSale Art in Sellwood for contributing to this evaluation.


This pitcher is Japanese, and probably dates to the Meiji Era.Courtesy of the collector

Snake handle pitcher

This pitcher with a snake/serpent handle is porcelain, 8½ inches high. Can you tell me anything about its origin and age?

D.T., Boring

A. Your pitcher is Japanese, and probably dates to the Meiji Era (1868-1912). This style of pitcher was especially popular in the Western market around 1880-1890. It is molded porcelain, with hand-painted chrysanthemum blossoms, signed Tai Tsuyoshi underneath by the artist. At auction you might see it sell for $30-$50. A reasonable retail asking price, if the piece is undamaged, would be $70-$90.


This is a four-chamber liquor bottle, probably originally sold by Fait Main.Courtesy of the collector

Four-ingredient cocktail bottle

Q. This glass decanter has four glass sections with cork/glass stoppers and is 11 inches high. On the bottom in raised glass letters are the words MADE IN FRANCE. What was this used for and is it valuable?

E.M., Gresham

A. This is a four-chamber liquor bottle, probably originally sold by Fait Main, of France, in the mid-20th century. Originally, it would have contained specialty liquors such as crème de menthe, apricot brandy, Cointreau and so on. At auction, you might see an estimate of $20-$40. In a collectibles shop, a dealer might ask $60-$80.


This “Billiken” figure appears to be of cast resin, in imitation of carved whale’s teeth.Courtesy of the collector

Billiken figure

Q. We have an object that was in a property bought by my parents. This is one of the items found inside, and so we have no history on it. We think it is carved from an animal tusk or tooth. It is about 4 inches high and the base is about 1.5 inches across.

W.B., Southeast Portland

A. Your “Billiken” figure appears to be of cast resin, in imitation of carved whale’s teeth, and probably dates to 1960-1970. The original Billiken was a figure created around 1908 by American art teacher and illustrator Florence Pretz, who said she saw the image in a dream. Buying a Billiken was said to give the purchaser good luck. These are very popular souvenirs in Alaska, and yours is larger than most. It might sell at auction for $20-$30 and be priced at $40-$60 in a shop that specializes in Alaskan collectibles.

About Today’s Collectibles

The values discussed for items featured in this column were researched by Portland appraiser Jerry l. Dobesh, ASA, an Accredited Senior Appraiser with the American Society of Appraisers, with a specialty designation in Antiques & Decorative Arts. His services include providing appraisals for estate tax, charitable contribution, insurance scheduling and loss, and equitable distribution needs.

To find an appraiser, contact the American Society of Appraisers, the International Society of Appraisers, or the Appraisers Association of America. Estimates suggested in this Collectibles column are for general information purposes only and cannot be used as a basis for sale, insurance, or IRS purposes.

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