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Archive for Sunday, April 13, 2008

Altering antique, collectible for ‘look’ decreases value

The colorful label adds to the value of this oak Ferry flower-seed box. It was sold by Morphy Auctions in Denver, Pa., for $175.

The colorful label adds to the value of this oak Ferry flower-seed box. It was sold by Morphy Auctions in Denver, Pa., for $175.

April 13, 2008

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Current prices

Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations.

¢ Advertising calendar, "Compliments of Gen. W. Vogt Fancy & Staple Groceries, Baltimore," embossed paper, Victorian woman and girl at table with food, 1913, 4-by-6 inches, $290.

¢ Orrefors decanter, intaglio, designed by Lindstrand, exotic dancer, mushroom-shaped stopper, base marked, 9 1/2 inches, $345.

¢ Clarice Cliff pottery jar, beehive shape, bee in relief on cover, orange, green, black and brown, ink mark, 1930s, 3 1/2 inches, $550.

¢ D'Argental vase, silhouetted fuchsia blossoms hanging from leafy vines, light and dark brown, amber and frosted ground, marked, 11 3/4 inches, $860.

¢ Danish swan chair, continuous curved seat, purple upholstery, 4-prong aluminum swivel base, marked "Arne Jacobsen," 30-by-29 inches, $2,265.

Condition is important when determining the value of a piece of antique furniture we have all learned this from TV shows about antiques. Condition is also important when deciding the value of baseball cards, labeled boxes and bottles, toys and most other collectibles. But decorators and casual collectors are more concerned about the "look" of something than about its original appearance. Labels have been soaked off jars, cardboard boxes discarded, furniture painted, tin toys painted and labels stripped from trunks and boxes. Styles have changed. The proper care of antiques in earlier times was to refinish, repaint or remove labels to try to make the old look new. Even today, decorating and crafts magazines describe projects that destroy the original look of an antique. A seed display box made of oak was auctioned a few months ago. The outside was in fine condition, and the inside had a colorful paper label for Ferry flower seeds. Without the label, it would have been a plain box worth about $50. With the label, it sold for $175. Don't alter an antique or collectible. There are collectors of tools and wooden kitchen wares who won't buy a piece if it has been varnished; it destroys the aged finish. Careful, accurate restoration might improve the value, but most "fixing" lowers the value.

Q: My mother willed a chest to me that she said was a very special "chiffonier." Can you tell me about chiffoniers?

A: If your chest is tall, narrow and has seven drawers, it may be an 18th-century piece from France. Each drawer held the underclothes or linens for a particular day of the week. It was called a "semainier," from the French word for week, "semaine." By the 19th century, the name "semainier" referred to a wider chest with several drawers, but not necessarily seven. A chiffonier in the 18th century was a shelf unit, but by the 19th century it was a tall chest that often had a mirror attached at the top. To make things even more confusing, early-20th-century furniture makers used both "semainier" and "chiffonier" for the same type of big chests of drawers. The name can't tell you the age of the chest. You must look at the method of construction, the style and other clues.

Q: Are the decorations on new china dishes made using the old transferware technique? I know some new dishes are being made with old patterns.

A: Patterns on modern china are made in different ways. Although some makers may refer to a modern process as "transferware," the process is not the same as the old transferware technique developed in the 18th century and perfected in the Staffordshire district of England. Back then, patterns were copied by inking an engraved copper plate, then transferring the design to paper (or sometimes soft glue) that was pressed onto dishes and fixed by firing. Decal printing, or lithographic printing, also is "transferred" from paper onto ceramic dishes. It does not involve copper plates. The design is printed on sheets of paper that are cut up and pressed onto the dish. Hand-painting is still used, too, by itself or in addition to a decal design.

Q: I have some plastic "poppit" beads that belonged to my mother. When were they popular? Are they collectible today?

A: Poppit beads were created in England in 1953. They were small ball-and-socket units originally made to show how a plastic-molding machine worked. But when the machine was demonstrated, the "beads" themselves attracted interest. A wholesale jeweler saw the possibilities in the beads and made a deal for Chelton Ltd. to use machines to make beads that became necklaces. They were made in many colors, bright or pastel, and by 1955 some had a pearlized finish. Each bead snapped into a hole in the next bead, and when put together or taken apart, they made a loud pop. The beads were sold under the names Poppit, Snapit or Lockit. Some of the beads were faceted or made in unusual shapes. Poppits are easy to swallow, so they should not be given to young children. New Poppits are being made in China.

Q: I have an Ekco Flint carving set from about 1948. The set is in a beautiful, lined wooden box, and I believe it has never been used. It also includes an Eddy Arnold carving guide. Could you help with an approximate value?

A: Edward Katzinger founded a commercial baking-pan company in Chicago in 1888. It eventually became known as Ekco Housewares Co. By the 1960s, it was the country's largest manufacturer of nonelectric kitchen items. Ekco knife and carving sets of the late 1940s were made with handles of wood or Bakelite. The blades were marked "Flint Stainless Vanadium." Sets were packaged in lined wooden boxes or wooden "holsters" that could hang on a wall. Ekco carving sets from the late 1940s and early 1950s sell for about $25 to $35.

Tip: A garden sculpture should be mounted at least 18 inches above the ground. It should be cleaned to keep off moss and algae.

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