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Antiques Considered - May 25, 2011

A couple from California has this pair of brass candlesticks that they acquired many years ago.  They have a home in the Northern Neck, where the sticks are located, and are thinking of selling them.  The sticks are six inches tall, and the antique dealer from whom they purchased them said they were English, and dated from the nineteenth century.

These candlesticks indeed are English, and more precisely date from the period 1820 – 1860.  They are sand-cast,

which means that they were fired in an oven with a sand floor, thus the coarse surface underneath.  They appear to have been polished with an abrasive cleaner, perhaps steel wool?, which would be difficult to reverse.  Perhaps with a mild metal polish and strong hand-rubbing the scratchy finish could be ameliorated.

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Britain was a leader in the production of household brassware.  The discovery of oil and the resulting advent of the oil lamp changed that economy forever.  Oil lamps burned for longer periods of time and were safer.

Candlesticks became obsolete.  Some firms even made oil lamps called peg lamps or candle lamps in which the font of the lamp had a peg on the bottom in order for it to fit into a standard candlestick.

I frequently note that antiques basically are commodities, and as milk, oil and lettuce prices rise and fall, so too do antiques’ prices.  Brass candlesticks are a good illustration of that statement.  These candlesticks were worth more 40 years ago than they are today.   In the 1970s they would have been available for $100, but today they are worth half that amount.  Our firm has conducted estate sales at which they have been difficult to sell, regardless of price.  Especially given the abraded finish on these, I suggest keeping them and waiting for the market to return.

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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