Advertisement

Archive for Sunday, June 15, 2008

Buyers, experts mixed on value of refinished antiques

June 15, 2008

Advertisement

The "skinned finish" did not stop a bidder from paying $32,000 for this rare Gustav Stickley tall-case clock. It is 71 inches high and sold at a Rago Craftsman auction in Lambertville, N.J.

The "skinned finish" did not stop a bidder from paying $32,000 for this rare Gustav Stickley tall-case clock. It is 71 inches high and sold at a Rago Craftsman auction in Lambertville, N.J.

Current prices

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.

¢ Stanley screwdriver No. 2703, Phillips head No.3., $25.

Pressed glass spooner, Bull's-Eye with Diamond Point pattern, gold trim, flared rim, round foot, 5 1/2 inches, $80.

¢ Bob Hope & Lucille Ball sheet music, "Havin' A Wonderful Wish, Time You Were Here," 1949, signed, 4 pages, $210.

¢ Advertising lunch box, Japanned sheet tin, hinged lid, stenciled "Wildman's One Price Clothing House, Danville, Va.," c.1885, 7-by-4-by-6 3/4 in., $255.

¢ Art deco desk, wood & metal, rectangular top with padded writing surface, 1 long & 2 short drawers, rectangular metal pulls, c.1930, 30-by-54 in., $485.

¢ Mattel Ken doll, Prince, green cape, fake diamond buttons, tights, original box, 1964, $510.

¢ Grenfell hooked mat, figure of man with 3 dogs, houses & mountains in background, browns, blacks & gray, 1930s, 14-by-17 in., $605

¢ Joe Louis ashtray, figural, Brown Bomber, chalkware, 1940s, $620.

¢ Fishing creel, wood, slat sides, 2 painted trout on front, E. Robicheau, canvas strap, 1977, 8-by-15 in., $855.

¢ Martin Brothers stoneware jug, 4-sided, tan, polychrome design on each side of costumed musicians, inscribed mark, c. 1900, 9 1/4 in., $2,125.

Don't refinish your furniture. Original finish adds to the value. This warning is given over and over on TV shows about antiques. But is it always true? No. An original finish on a superior example of an 18th, 19th or even 20th-century piece of furniture should add value. But because well-to-do Victorian housewives had their furniture touched up and polished every few years, many pieces now have finishes that, while not original, are more than 100 years old. If you have a piece with such a bad finish it would look out of place in a home, it could be refinished and gain in value. Sometimes a refinished piece sells for a high price because it is so rare or decorative. At a Rago Craftsman auction in New Jersey, a Gustav Stickley trapezoidal tall-case clock just sold for $32,500. The catalog description said it had a "skinned finish." That's a slang term that means the original finish was scraped off and a new finish was added. Oak Arts and Crafts furniture was out of fashion from about 1920 to the 1980s. Whe n collectors started buying it again, they wanted attractive furniture with a perfect finish. A few dealers sanded off the original scarred and darkened finish - "skinned" the piece - then applied a new finish that very closely resembled the old one. These skinned pieces can be spotted by an expert, but few novices will notice the difference.

Q: I have a green glass vase 6 inches high by 4 inches in diameter. It's marked "Hoosier Glass" on the bottom. Have you ever heard of this maker?

A: Glass flower vases marked "Hoosier Glass" were first made in 1979 by Syndicate Sales Inc. of Kokomo, Ind. Hoosier Glass was a utility line sold to commercial florists. The vases sell today for $5 to $15 each. Lately, we have seen more interest in this glass among collectors. Syndicate Sales is still in business, still makes commercial glass for florists and still lists Hoosier Glass among its trademarks and product lines.

Q: My mother left me a 30-piece set of "winter scene" figures. She marked the box they are in "valuable." The small figures, most under 2 inches tall, are flat, lead and painted. Many of the figures are skiers, skaters and sleigh riders, and they're all wearing winter clothing. There are also trees and streetlamps. The word "Germany" is embossed on the base of the larger pieces. We would appreciate any information you can give us about the figures.

A: Collectors call "2-dimensional" lead figures like yours "flat backs." The first of these were toy soldiers and saints made by 16th-century German tinsmiths. The molds used to make the figures were simple - two slabs of slate, one engraved with the figure's right side or front and the other with its left side or back. Lead was eventually added to the tin to lower the cost of the figures and to make a smoother liquid metal. By the middle of the 19th century, flat German tin soldiers were being exported to the United States. Standing sets of flat-back figures like yours on a mirror or sheet of cotton created a winter scene. They became popular during the 20th century, and German manufacturers still dominated the market. A set of 30 figures made right before World War II sold a few years ago for $175. That set was marketed in the United States by a Norwalk, Conn., company named Art Craft Products. Sets continued to be imported from West Germany into the 1980s, but the newer figures are lighter in weight, and the painted clothing and features are less detailed.

Q: My niece inherited a dining-room table from her grandmother. It has a label that says "Alliance Furniture Co., Jamestown, N.Y." Could you give me some information on the company? The tabletop needs some work. Would refinishing hurt the value?

A: Alliance Furniture Co. was founded in 1905 by a group of eight partners of Swedish heritage. The company manufactured high-quality dining-room furniture until at least the 1950s. Your niece should feel comfortable having the tabletop refinished. The table is a good one, but it isn't so valuable that it shouldn't be touched. Just be sure she finds a qualified craftsperson to do the refinishing.

Q: I bought some art deco ceramics online that are signed "Dorothy Ann." But now I can't find any indication that such an artist ever existed.

A: An artist who signed her work "Dorothy Ann" painted art deco pottery for S. Fielding & Co. of Staffordshire, England, during the middle decades of the 20th century. Fielding, which was in business from 1870 to 1982, was better known by its trade name, Crown Devon. Most pieces signed Dorothy Ann are brightly painted with abstract designs. They're similar to ceramics by Clarice Cliff, a famous British designer. But beware. Fake Dorothy Ann pieces have been showing up in online auctions in the past couple of years.

Tip: Coverlets made before the 1830s were done on a loom that was no more than 40 inches wide. Old coverlets are made of two panels joined at the center seam.

¢The Kovels answer as many questions as possible through the column. By sending a letter with a question, you give full permission for use in the column or any other Kovel forum. Names and addresses will not be published. We cannot guarantee the return of any photograph, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The volume of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovels, (Lawrence Journal-World), King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.