Arts and Crafts, or Mission, furniture is described in most catalogs and books as functional and simple, with straight legs and arms. Pieces have little decoration, just visible mortise-and-tenon joints. Light or dark oak was preferred. It was a short-lived style popular from 1900 to about 1915. The designs were a revolt against the curved, highly decorated furniture of Victorian times. They echoed the Englishmen William Morris and John Ruskin’s idealized view of the single workman creating a piece of furniture in an honest, personal manner. Morris and Ruskin liked the medieval craft guild organization, although they misinterpreted it to be one man, one object. Studies today show that for centuries a single piece of furniture might have been made by many different expert craftsmen who were carvers, turners, designers or specialists who created parts of a chair or chest. The revival of the Arts and Crafts style in the 1980s has lasted longer than the workshops of Gustav Stickley, Roycroft and other Mission makers.
Charles Rohlfs, who is often listed with these makers, was a New York City furniture maker who worked during the years Arts and Crafts ideas were popular, but he had his own ideas and designs. He used curves and cut-outs, high backs on chairs and strange feet. His furniture did not fit in with the look expected then or during the 1980s revival, so until recently it was rarely offered at large auctions and shows. But new research about Rohlfs and new respect for his work should lead to more collector interest and higher prices.
Q: I have a Post Cereal Roy Rogers “pop-out card.” It’s No. 10 in a series of 36 and pictures Roy and his dog, Bullet. What year were these printed? Does it have any value?
A: Roy Rogers was born Leonard Franklin Slye in Cincinnati in 1911. His family moved to Los Angeles in 1930 and Roy was discovered after singing in an amateur night. He began his acting career using the name Dick Weston and didn’t use the name Roy Rogers until 1938. Republic Studios wanted him to use the name Leroy Rogers, but Roy didn’t like the name Leroy, so he chose Roy. Post Cereals “pop-out” cards were enclosed in several varieties of Post cereals in 1952. Part of the picture was cut so that it would pop out from the background when the picture was folded correctly. The back of each card listed the number of the card, title and description. A single card is worth about $10-$15. A complete set of 36 cards in great condition has sold for $800.
Q: We were given a picture titled “Deer in Repose, A View in the Isle of Arran, painted by R. Cleminson, Engraved by George Zobel, published by L. Brall & Sons.” It has some brown streaks and spots on it. It’s in a huge wooden frame that’s boarded up in the back. Friends tell me that I should be present when it’s appraised because people often hide things of value behind the boards. Is this worth having appraised?
A: Robert Cleminson was a British artist active from 1865 to 1868 who specialized in “sporting” art, paintings of Highland scenes of dogs, deer, game and other animals. The streaks in the picture are a type of mold called “foxing” and are expensive to remove. Cleminson prints in good condition sell for under $100. Prints in poor condition don’t sell. Your print is worth less than its frame. You rarely find things hidden behind backing boards. Sometimes you find things behind the paper dust covering.
Tip: Don’t lock furniture with antique locks. If they stick, it’s almost impossible to open the door or drawer without damaging the wood.