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Antiques Considered - January 5, 2011

 A couple acquired this cradle at an antique shop in Pennsylvania many years ago.  It is pine, and has been refinished.  They have made it into a magazine rack, almost like a canterbury, but have retained the essentials in order that it could be returned to its original purpose.  Happily, the rockers were not removed, but stabilized by having flat boards sistered to them.  These are removable without serious effort should a future owner wish to reconvert to the baby-rocking purpose.
 The cradle dates to the middle of the nineteenth century, and probably came from Pennsylvania or another Mid-Atlantic state.  It has good, traditional lines, and undoubtedly was a home for many babies over the years.  We have a similar one, although it is walnut, which my mother purchased at an antique shop in the Shenandoah Valley, and which she too used for magazines.
My good wife refitted it when we were expecting our first child, and he and later his sister, found it to be quite commodious

during their early months.  In short, cradles never become outdated.  Fortunately, in converting this one for magazine use, no permanent alterations came to bear on its integrity, but the loss of the original finish diminishes its value somewhat.  From the 1950s until the 1980s many such pieces made their way to the refinisher’s shop, thereby making those that did not all the more desirable and valuable.
The cradle is worth $175, although the market for this type of piece has decreased over the last generation.   This one is a nice example of what was an item of plentiful production during the nineteenth century.  I do not hesitate to speculate that similar more modern apparatuses will not fare as well over the test of time.
 I also want to take this occasion to remind readers of the Washington Winter Show with over 40 dealers, held at The Katzen Fine Arts Center at American University, January 6-9.  It is well worth the ride up to see the great wares that dealers from all across the country bring forth and is the best show in our region.  The link for more information is http://www.washingtonwintershow.com/.
Happy antiquing!
Lisa and Henry Hull operate Commonwealth Antiques and Appraisals, Inc. at 5150 Jessie DuPont Hwy. 22570. (P.O. 35). Wicomico Church, VA 22570. Write to them or e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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