Dear Helaine and Joe: Enclosed is a picture of a cookie jar left in a cottage that we bought in New Hampshire more than 30 years ago. I would like information on it if possible. The only marking on the bottom says "Baker 24." It is in perfect condition, with no cracks or chips. Thank you. — A.K., Canton, Mass.

Dear A.K.: Marks can be a big help in identifying antiques and collectibles, but they should not be relied upon totally. A great deal of care needs to be taken to ensure that the marks on a given piece are genuine and not just there to fool unwary collectors. It is also important that any marks are read correctly; otherwise, frustration ensues.

The mark on the bottom of this particular piece does not read "Baker 24" (or if it does, there is a serious problem). The mark actually reads "K24 Brush USA," and the Brush Pottery Company used it. This firm originated in 1925, when the McCoy family withdrew from the Brush-McCoy Pottery Company.

This is a complicated story, but in a nutshell, George S. Brush became general manager of the J.W. McCoy Pottery Company in 1909. He had previously worked for J.B. Owens Pottery, Globe Stoneware, The Crooksville (Ohio) Clay Products Company and his own Brush Pottery, which burned down in 1908.

As a result of a merger in 1911, J.W. McCoy Pottery Company became Brush-McCoy, and it grew into one of the largest manufacturers of pottery in the United States, with plants in both Zanesville and Roseville, Ohio. However, a fire in the Zanesville plant in 1918 forced a move of all company operations to Roseville.

When the McCoys withdrew from this arrangement in 1925, Brush continued in the old plant in Roseville as Brush Pottery until 1982, when the operation finally closed. Over the years, it made decorative items, kitchenwares, patio and garden wares, vases and cookie jars.

The products were sometimes marked with the name "Brush" and representations of artist's brushes and/or artist's palettes. The company made a variety of cookie jars that are now sought after by collectors who look for pieces in such shapes as Humpty Dumpty, Davy Crockett, Little Boy Blue, Raggedy Ann, Peter Pan, Hillbilly Frog (a popular collector's item) and Little Red Riding Hood, among others.

The jar in today's question is indeed one of Brush's Little Red Riding Hood cookie jars. A.K. failed to disclose the size of the jar, but these items did come in two different sizes -- 11-1/2 inches and 9-1/2 inches tall.

These Little Red Riding Hood cookie jars came in a variety of styles and colors. Some had the name "Littl Red Riding Hood" impressed on the front of her dress -- yes, with "Littl" spelled incorrectly.

Some of these jars were rather plain, while others had elaborate gold trim, which collectors seem to like. The colors of the cloak can vary; some have a rose-red hue and others, a darker-red coloration. A.K.'s example appears to have the darker-red cape, but little gold embellishment.

This jar has an insurance-replacement value in the $500-to-$700 range.

Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson are the authors of "Price It Yourself" (HarperResource, $19.95). Contact them at Treasures in Your Attic, P.O. Box 27540, Knoxville, TN 37927. E-mail them at treasures@)knology.net