A highly sought after Art Deco figural cocktail shaker, the Napier Penguin, has been reproduced. Originals have sold for as much as $1400; the new reproduction originally cost $48.
Collectible bar ware specialist Stephen Visakay told ACRN in a telephone interview, that unsuspecting buyers have paid $200-$300 and more for the reproductions. "One sold on an Internet auction site for over $300," said Visakay. "The seller included some remarks about "some areas of light wear" and "minor scratches" to make the new shaker appear convincing." Visakay, author of Vintage Bar Ware1, described several ways to authenticate an original Napier Penguin.
In the original Penguin shaker by Napier, the entire beak is hinged (Fig. 2, arrow) at the face. This lifts up to reveal a stopper and pouring spout. The beak on the reproduction is not hinged; there is a screw on metal stopper at the end of the beak.
The original is silver plate over metal; the new piece is nickel plate on metal. An authentic Napier Penguin is stamped in the base "Napier–pat. pending" or "Napier–pat D 101559" (see patent drawing, Fig. 3). New shakers do not have a permanent mark. They arrive with only a removable paper label reading "Made in India" applied to the base.
Visakay said original Napier Penguin shakers sell for $750-$1400. Average price for an authentic piece with silver plating in good condition is currently about $1000. The Napier Penguin was introduced during the holiday season of 1936. It retailed for $12.50 at gift shops and fine department stores. The Napier Company was a jewelry manufacturer in Meriden, Connecticut. When prohibition was repealed in 1932, it decided to expand into bar ware.
The new shaker is promoted as a copy of the "1936 Napier Penguin" by a mail order firm specializing in reproductions. New shakers began appearing late 1998.
Visakay said there is also a "old" knockoff of the Napier Penguin made about 1938. In that version, the wings are embossed in the body, not separate; the beak is not hinged and there is no Napier mark. The 1938 knockoffs sell for $200-$300.
1Vintage Bar Ware by Stephen Visakay, Collector Books.