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Antiques Considered - June 1, 2011

This pine tool tray comes from in Middlesex County.  The owner purchased it at auction many years ago, so far back that he does not remember what he paid for it. 

The finish is original, he thinks, and the piece exhibits no signs of alteration or repair.

Utilitarian items such as this tool tray are difficult to date.  This one being in such good condition causes me to question whether it is of more recent

vintage, and made for modern purposes such as holding magazines or potted plants.  I note that the edges are not dove-tailed, and the handle seems in remarkable shape, which opens up the possibility that it consists of old wood, thus effecting a patina that appears older than it is.

Given the passage of years since the present owner purchased it, it clearly does not date from last month.  Perhaps it was a bread tray, which would explain why it lacks evidence of the hard use that one would expect from a tray used by a carpenter in his trade.  In this case I should like to see a photograph of the bottom, one of the best ways to judge any antique’s age.

When I was a child here in the Northern Neck at county auctions pieces similar to this one brought only a few dollars.  That scenario is quite different today.  Old, utilitarian objects are high in demand.  Antique kitchen items are particularly hot on the market these days.

If this piece is 50 years old and made out of old wood, it is worth $50.  If proven to be over 100 years old, the value would be two to three times that amount.  I prefer to be more definite in giving an amount, but in this instance, the best I can do is to offer the range of possibilities.  Regardless of the age or worth, it is a good piece and would make a nice addition in anyone’s home. 

Happy Antiquing!

Lisa and Henry Hull operate Commonwealth Antiques and Appraisals, Inc. at 5150 Jessie DuPont Hwy., 22570 (P. O. Box 35). Wicomico Church, Va. 22570. Write to them or e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

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