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Archive for Sunday, June 15, 2003

Designers created housewares from leftovers

June 15, 2003

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Industrial design is an idea that started in the 20th century. A group of men and women designed or redesigned commercial products to make them work better and look more attractive. Everything from train locomotives to chairs to electric fans to kitchenware to lamps were improved or newly created.
Chase Brass and Copper Co. hired a number of designers to help create housewares using leftovers from copper and brass plumbing parts and pipes. Lurelle Guild, Russel Wright, Walter van Nessen and others designed pieces using these recycled leftovers. A round sprinkling can and a lamp with a round base were each made using a round copper toilet-float. Candlesticks, bookends and lamps were manufactured from copper tubing. A corn-on-the-cob set, with a round butter pitcher and round salt and pepper shakers, was made from the molds used for brass balls that fit on the ends of bed frames. The clever designers were able to suggest inexpensive ways to make attractive, high-style pieces. Chase chrome wares are collected today to display and to use.

I inherited a huge reverse-glass painting showing the Titanic approaching several large icebergs. My aunt bought it from a door-to-door salesman in 1913, a year after the ocean liner sank. The painting cost her about $20. She paid the salesman $1 a week until it was paid off. The gold-colored frame appears to be made from plaster over wood. With the frame, the painting is 50 inches wide and 28 inches high. What is it worth?
Your painting is one of many Titanic souvenirs sold immediately after the tragedy. Several sizes and styles of reverse paintings on glass were produced. If your large painting is not chipped or damaged, it could sell for more than $400.

My parents purchased a blanket in Wyoming 60 years ago. It looks like a traditional Hudson's Bay blanket with red, green, yellow and black stripes on an off-white background. But the label on it reads "Baron Woolen Mills, Brigham City, Utah." Can you explain?
The Hudson's Bay Co. was Canada's first trading company. It was founded about 1670 and is still in business. The company's traditional striped blankets have been made since the 1700s. Other blanket-manufacturing firms have copied the style. Baron Woolen Mills opened in 1870. It closed a few years ago, but was reorganized and opened again. Your blanket was machine-woven sometime during the early 20th century. If it is in unworn condition, it would sell for about $100.

I bought a pair of glass candlesticks from a Vermont antiques dealer in 1967. The glass is swirled in shades of brown. The dealer told me the glass is called Caramel Slag or End-of-Day. The base of each candlestick is shaped like a dolphin and is marked on the bottom with the etched and superimposed initials "IG." Who made the candlesticks?
Your candlesticks were manufactured by the Imperial Glass Corp. of Bellaire, Ohio. The firm was in business from about 1904 until 1984. Your candlesticks were new when you bought them. Imperial introduced its Caramel Slag line in 1964. The glass is a mixture of opaque-brown and milk glass. The line was produced until the mid-1970s, then was reintroduced about 1981. Your candlesticks are valued at about $50.

About 75 years ago, my father gave his mother a cream-colored pottery pitcher that looks like a rooster. It is painted bright red and black. The mark on the bottom is an oval with the letters "ER" to its left and "Phila" inside. Above the oval is the word "handpainted," and below it is "Czechoslovakia." No one has been able to tell me anything about the pitcher or the mark.
Your pitcher is a piece of Czechoslovakian pottery. It is one of several similar 1920s-era pitchers made in the shapes of birds or other animals. The mark is nicknamed "Erphila" by collectors. The "ER" refers to Ebeling & Reuss, an American importing company. "Phila" is an abbreviation for Philadelphia, where the importer was located. Ebeling & Reuss used the mark as early as 1920. The firm is still in business in Allentown, Pa. Your rooster pitcher, in excellent condition, could sell for $200.

We found a Mission-style oak chair in a hunting camp in Michigan. The back of the chair is very tall, with a black-leather padded back. The seat has a cushion covered with the same black leather. A name tag on the chair is hard to read. All we can make out is "Moulin Bros." Can you help?
Your chair was manufactured by DeMoulin Bros. & Co. of Greenville, Ill. The factory opened in 1892 and specialized in furniture for churches and fraternal lodges. Your tall-backed chair is pictured in a 1930s company catalog.

Tip
Clean a silver chain with a mixture of white vinegar and water. Rub the mixture on the chain with a toothbrush or a towel. Rinse.

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