Archive for Sunday, June 8, 2003

Major architect designed furniture

June 8, 2003

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Many major architects like to design furniture to be used in their buildings. They want to be sure that the interior decoration adds to the beauty of the building.

Frank Lloyd Wright, known for his Prairie School architecture, made furniture for many of his clients. His chairs, tables and benches were often built into the rooms. His furniture, like the trim in his houses, has no carving or extra embellishments. His chairs have straight backs and little upholstery.

A few Wright buildings have been destroyed or remodeled, and their furniture has been sold to the public. These pieces are very expensive, usually more than $15,000 each. Frank Lloyd Wright also designed furniture for Heritage Henredon in 1955. He created a full line of interior decorating products, too, including fabric and wallpaper by Schmacher and paint by Martin Senour. Wright's Heritage Henredon furniture still can be found at shows and sales. A sofa might cost $1,500, and a table $800.

While I was packing up for a move, I found an old poster I bought about 20 years ago in California. It has a red drawing of a cowboy on the right. On the left are the words "Apache Harry's Original Wild West Show." The date on the bottom is Saturday, July 14, 1883. The back of the poster is marked with a small square surrounding the words "The Bettmann Archive Inc." I am wondering if the poster has any value.

You have a reproduction of a poster for a traveling Wild West show. This kind of show was popular entertainment at the end of the 19th century. The Bettmann Archive is a treasure trove of historical photographs and artifacts. The archive was founded by Otto Bettmann, who escaped Nazi Germany in 1935 with two trunks full of photos. He added to the archive throughout his life. After Bettmann died in 1998, the archive was purchased by Microsoft's Bill Gates.

My antique silver-plated soup tureen has a lion-and-shield finial and four tall legs. Two handles stretch out from the sides. Around the rim, there's a band with a design of men in battle. The mark on the bottom is hard to read, but it includes a circle with the words "New Haven." Can you add any information?

A soup tureen similar to yours, with the same finial and band design, was made by the Meriden Britannia Co. about 1878. Long-legged tureens were popular at the time. Meriden Britannia Co. was located in Meriden, Conn. -- not far from New Haven. The "New Haven" in the mark might belong to a retailer in that city. Your tureen is a good piece of silver-plated hollowware. It would sell for $300 or more.

My childhood bank is made of painted metal. The base of the bank is dark green. Daffy Duck is standing on the base and leaning against a tree trunk. The trunk has a coin slot in the top. It is marked "Copyright W.B.C." on the bottom. Can you tell me the value?

Daffy Duck banks like yours were first manufactured in the late 1930s. The W.B.C. stands for Warner Bros. Co., which produces Looney Tunes cartoons. Your bank, along with several others depicting Looney Tunes characters, was manufactured by the Metal Moss Manufacturing Co. The banks were made of white metal. A bank like yours, in excellent condition and without chipped paint, sells for more than $100.

I have a small collection of Fiesta, Bauer and other solid-color California dinnerware. My son, who works at a laboratory, tested one of my red bowls and found it to be radioactive. To protect my family, I have removed all of the red and orange items from my kitchen. My son has reassured me that the U.S. government has checked the glazes and that the plates are safe. What do you know about this?

THIS FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT TABLE was made for Smith Bank in Dwight,
Ill., in 1905. It sold at an auction in 1999 for $30,000.

THIS FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT TABLE was made for Smith Bank in Dwight, Ill., in 1905. It sold at an auction in 1999 for $30,000.

For the past 50 years, collectors have worried about uranium or lead in old glazed dishes. The levels of these elements in the glazes are so small that eating off the dishes does not pose a health hazard. To be on the safe side, though, it is recommended that the dishes not be used to store food, to heat food in a microwave or to serve food to children under 6.

My friend has an old violin marked "Georgius Thir Jr., Presburg, 1845." Can you give us a value?

Violin makers with the surname Thir worked in Presburg (now in Germany) and Vienna beginning in the mid-1700s. The value of the violin depends on the quality of the sound it produces and the condition of the instrument. Contact a musical-instrument store in your area. Most of them employ experts or can refer you to one who will be able to judge the quality of your friend's violin.

Tip

Rhinestone jewelry can be gently cleaned. Use a makeup brush or a Q-tip to remove dust from the crevices. Be careful not to loosen the stones. Spray some glass cleaner or denatured alcohol on a soft cloth -- not on the jewelry. Rub gently. Do not rinse. Water damages the backing on the rhinestones.

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Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.¢ Nippon cookie jar, Maple Leaf pattern, pink roses, blue daisies, gold trim, handled and footed, 4 3/4 x 6 inches, $175.¢ Needlework pillow, hunting falcon on perch with hunting hood, potted plants, roses, fence and building, 1930, 17 inches, $210.¢ Vaseline-glass pickle caster, silver-plated holder with tongs, Daisy & Button pattern, hinged top, 9 inches, $395.¢ Red Indian Cut Plug Tobacco tin, tin lithograph, 7 1/2 inches, $450.¢ Big Big Book, "The Story of Mickey Mouse," Mickey and Minnie on cover, Whitman, 1935, $495.¢ Copper-and-zinc running horse weathervane, full body, A.J. Harris & Co., mounted on rod, 1868-1882, 20 x 30 inches, $4,995.

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