Archive for Thursday, November 18, 2004

Style of legs dates ‘vanity tables’

November 18, 2004


The "vanity table" has had other identies.

It was known as a "toilet table" in the 18th century and a "dressing table" in the 19th century. The piece of furniture with all these names is a table with inset compartments that hold cosmetics, brushes, combs and other things needed to make up a face, powder a wig or take care of personal grooming.

A mirror that could be tipped for a better view was attached to the top of the table by the 1750s. Thomas Chippendale, of furniture fame, designed a "toylet" table in 1762 that had not only a mirror, but also a fancy, ruffled fabric skirt.

The 20th-century vanity table still often has a pleated skirt that hides the table's legs. In the early 19th century, the dressing table became larger and often had several drawers and a mirror. The style of the leg, the shape of the brackets holding the mirror and the type of wood all help to date a table and determine its value.

Q: Can you tell me the history and value of my ceramic "moose" pitcher? It is about 3 1/4 inches tall, with a handle on one end and a moose's head on the other. The brown moose-head forms a small spout, with its antlers forming the rim of the pitcher. The body of the pitcher is molded with indentations. The pitcher is light brown and green. The mark on the bottom is hard to read. It is a small circle surrounding the words "Made in Cze-o--."

A: Small cream pitchers shaped like animals were made in large quantities by the Royal Bayreuth factory of Germany during the early 1900s. After World War I, the country of Czechoslovakia was formed, and potteries there copied various Royal Bayreuth shapes, including animal pitchers. Collectors call your pitcher "moose in tall grass." The body of the pitcher was molded and painted to look like tall leaves of grass. Your pitcher would sell for $35 to $50.

Q: I have owned an Art Nouveau coffee-serving set for about 50 years. It includes a tray, coffeepot, large sugar bowl and two large cups and saucers. The tray, saucers and serving pieces are a bluish-silver metal alloy. The cups are white porcelain with an overlay of the same metal. The mark on each piece includes the words "Gallia Metal." Can you tell me who made the set?

A: Your coffee set was made by Christofle, a French company that has been in business since 1830. The company, founded by Charles Christofle (1805-1863), started out as a manufacturer of silver-plated hollowware. Later in the century, Christofle opened a plant in the south of France to produce pieces made from what it called Gallia metal. An alloy similar to pewter, it has a bluish tint and can be electroplated on glass or porcelain. The style of your set dates it to around 1900.

Q: Years ago, I bought two old calculating machines from a friend. One is an Arithometer made by Tate's of London. It is solid brass and weighs about 35 pounds. The other is a pinwheel calculating machine that appears to have been manufactured in Russia. The name on it is in Cyrillic letters. This machine weighs about 16 pounds.

A: Museums and computer companies like to display early calculating machines. The first machine called an Arithometer was a mechanical calculator that could add, subtract, multiply and divide. It was invented in 1820 by a Frenchman named Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar. The machine was commercially manufactured as early as 1852, but S. Tate of London didn't start making his version until 1883. Tate continued to improve the machine into the early 1900s, and many were sold in the United States. Your pinwheel calculating machine was patented in Russia in 1878 by a Swedish engineer named Willgodt T. Odhner. It was more sophisticated than Tate's Arithometer, which was basically an adding machine. After the Russian Revolution in 1917, Odhner's machine was manufactured in Sweden. Dozens of manufacturers around the world made machines like it until the early 1970s.

Q: Could you please tell me the value of my childhood Disney three-section ceramic plate? The largest section is decorated with a picture of Mickey Mouse walking with his hands in his pockets. There are two smaller sections, one showing Mickey sitting on a stool and the other picturing Pluto. I am 72 and remember using this plate when I was very young.

A: Your divided baby dish was most likely made by the Salem China Co. of Salem, Ohio, in 1934. Salem, under a Disney license, made full sets of children's dishes that year, including a divided plate. Check for a mark that says "Salem" on the bottom of the dish. Salem Disney dishes can also be identified by a thin line of colored trim around the edge. Your divided dish could sell today for more than $150.

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.Catalina women's sweater, navy blue and pink, with white flowers, 1940s, size Medium, $55.Black felt sewing doll, soft padded face, pearl-button eyes and nose, red bead mouth, brass pin holders as hair, black felt strips for torso, wooden spools for feet, c. 1935, 10 inches, $140.Boehm bird, Fledgling Canada Warbler, marked and numbered, 8 1/2 inches, $375.Pieced quilt, Dazzler pattern, orange, indigo blue and salmon, hand-sewn with designs of diamonds, wavy lines, hearts and flowers, 1930s, 78 x 78 inches, $410.Mettlach stein, knight pouring water on a man's head and putting out flames, fireman finial on funnel and teapot lid, impressed castle mark, 1885-1930, 8 1/2 inches, $550.Gorham sterling center bowl, Frontenac pattern, out-swept rim, raised flowers, column-and-fan design, 1935, 10 inches, $690.Fred Flintstone Bedrock Band toy, vinyl head, Fred plays drums with granite drumsticks, paper drum, Dino graphics, Alps, 1962, battery, 9 inches, $775.Mt. Washington glass sugar shaker, fig shape, enameled spider mums, original cap, 4 inches, $1,550.Red Raven drink advertising sign, Victorian lady hugging red raven, metal, c. 1900, 24 inches, $2,750.Louis XV-style chaise longue, carved giltwood, shell carving, scrolling foliage, caned back and arms, cabriole legs, scrolled feet, tapestry cushion, 39 inches, $2,860.

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