Archive for Sunday, August 8, 2004

19th-century night-table commode known for versatility

August 8, 2004


Old furniture forms are sometimes altered slightly when copies are made so they will be more useful in a modern setting.

Homes today have indoor bathrooms and flush toilets. The commode table of the early 19th century is no longer a necessity. An original commode table had a hole in a shelf with a place for a chamber pot or bowl that could be removed to be emptied. A chair with a hole in the seat, sometimes called a closet-chair, was also used.

Today, similar tables or chairs are made with solid wooden shelves or seats. A cleverly designed 19th-century night-table commode was made with two shelves. The top piece was hinged so it could be flipped back to form the back of a chair. The bottom shelf had an opening to hold a chamber pot. Open, it served as a chair; closed, the shelves formed a two-tiered table.

The design, with solid shelves, was copied in the 1950s by an American company. It was designed to be used as an end table. A lamp could be kept on the top, and a telephone and books could sit on the bottom shelf.

I have a toy-size cast-iron stove that was found in an old farmhouse before it was razed. Flowers and leaves are embossed on the sides of the stove. Embossed on the removable hearth-plate are the words "Cotton Plant, Abendroth Bros., N.Y." I also have accessories for the stove, including a frying pan, boiling pot, tray, trivet and burner handle. The stove is 9 1/2 inches high, 12 inches wide and 10 inches deep. Was this a child's toy or a salesman's sample? What is it worth?

You have a wonderful toy stove, manufactured about 1880 by a company that also made full-size stoves. Most toy-size stoves from that era were made as toys, but they worked just like full-size stoves. Some stove retailers displayed the toys in their store windows. The flowering plants embossed on the stove might be cotton plants, which gave the stove its name. A Cotton Plant toy stove like yours auctioned for $2,200 in 2003 -- and that one did not have accessories.

My father left me a small, globe-shaped clear glass bottle with a thin, gold-colored metal waist and shoulder band. The words formed in the metal of the waistband are "Forbidden Fruit, Bustanoby Freres, N.Y." The stopper is in the shape of a crown. The patent information embossed on the bottom reads "Patented Feb. 2, 1904, No. 36764." Can you help with identification?

The three Bustanoby brothers -- Andre, Jacques and Louis -- owned and operated two popular restaurants in New York City in the early 20th century. Andre designed your bottle and registered his patent in 1904. The bottle, which can be found with either a crown or a cross stopper, held a grapefruit liqueur that the brothers called "Forbidden Fruit." The Forbidden Fruit trademark is owned today by Chatam International Inc., a Philadelphia distiller. We have seen bottles like yours at shows. It might date from before 1912, the year the Bustanobys' two original restaurants went bankrupt, but it might not be that old -- the liqueur was made for years after the restaurants closed.

My Rookwood vase has a cutout covering that looks like real silver. How was this done? Was it done at many potteries? When?

This Regency-style mahogany table commode is 30 1/2 inches high. It
auctioned for $440.

This Regency-style mahogany table commode is 30 1/2 inches high. It auctioned for $440.

Rookwood Pottery of Cincinnati was making pieces with silver overlay by 1892. Gorham Silver Co. bought pottery from Rookwood and added the silver overlay in its own designs. Other pieces of Rookwood were embellished by Alvin Silver. Dark-colored glazes, often in brown tones, were favored for this work. Silver overlay went out of style by the early 1900s. Other potters in the United States and England sometimes made pieces that were decorated with silver overlay.

My grandfather was a salmon fisherman in Alaska. In the late 1800s, he was given a very finely woven Indian basket that now belongs to me. The round basket has a woven lid with a round handle in the middle. Around the basket are three rows of embroidered floral and rose designs. Is this basket valuable? It is in very good condition.

The description of your basket leads us to think that it was made by an Aleutian artist. Aleut baskets are considered among the world's best. The weaving is delicate, but the baskets are very sturdy. Aleut lidded baskets are often decorated with silk or woolen embroidery. Your basket could be worth several hundred dollars or more. Have an expert look at it.


Silver kept in direct sunlight will tarnish more quickly than pieces stored in the dark.

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.¢ Bye-Lo black baby doll, brown eyes, closed mouth, white muslin body, working crier, frog legs, white baby dress and diaper, 15 inches, $220.¢ Centennial Exhibition handkerchief, silk, dark-golden background, Memorial Hall Art Gallery, Horticultural Hall, Machinery Hall, Agricultural Hall, 1776-1876, 29 x 33 inches, $430.¢ Arthur A-Go-Go drummer, tin vinyl head of Ringo, plays drums, nods side to side, paper drum, battery-operated, Alps, 10 inches, $575.¢ Weller Lasa vase, oval, trees in full blossom, lake and mountain ranges, signed, 11 inches, $750.¢ Georg Jensen serving fork and spoon, floral engraving, openwork handles, pattern No. 83, marked, 1945, 9 and 10 inches, $1,035.¢ Cut-glass decanter, Monarch pattern, ring handle, 9 inches, $1,175.¢ Chippendale slant-lid desk, birch, 4 drawers, brass bail hardware, 5 drawers and 8 cubby holes under lid, bracket base, 42 x 36 x 17 inches, $1,210.¢ George III washstand, mahogany, pitted slate top, shaped skirt, shelf with 2 drawers, molded legs, late 18th century, $2,235.¢ Coin-operated game, "Patience Leads to Success," Coin Machine Amusement Co., Tuckahoe, N.Y., $7,040.¢ Santa Fe Trail bus depot sign, 2 sides, porcelain, bright colors, 1920s-1930s, 26 x 23 inches, $7,150.

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