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Antiques Considered - November 11, 2009

A local gentleman has asked about his three wooden items, with a view toward selling them prior to his move from the area.  They have passed through his family, and he does not have any significant information on them, other than that the wood of both the mortar and pestle is lignum vitae.  The top of the larger bucket has been repaired, and the upper band of the smaller one is very loose.
Looking at the buckets first, the smaller one could be repaired quite easily by gluing the rim in place.  I recommend against using any form of metal fastener that would detract from the originality of the bucket.  This one is worth $75.
The larger bucket is quite impressive, given its significant size.  The filler used on the top should be sanded and stained to make it less obtrusive.  The bucket should not be refinished, but once the rawness of the repair is ameliorated, the top should receive a clear coat to protect it.  This bucket is worth $175.  If it were perfect, the figure would be far greater.


Both buckets probably are of New England Shaker origin, as could the mortar and pestle be also.  The latter, being made from lignum vitae, one of the densest and heaviest of North American woods, is an excellent example.  These two pieces also might be of Shaker manufacture, and demonstrate the elegant craftsmanship of 19th-century cabinetmakers.
“Lignum vitae” means tree of life, and is difficult to find in the antiques market.  This example, used for crushing herbs, home milling of some grains, or mashing potatoes, is worth $200.  The color of the wooden pieces is good, and demonstrates the thickness of the grain.  Both pieces would be heavy to handle due to their weight.
The buckets are not rare, but the mortar and pestle clearly count among the nicest pairs I ever have encountered.
Happy antiquing...

• Lisa and Henry Lane Hull operate Commonwealth Antiques and Appraisals, Inc. at 5150 Jessie DuPont Hwy. (P. O. 35) Wicomico Church, Virginia 22570. Write to him there, or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with pictures and descriptions of items you wish to have him treat in “Antiques Considered.” Please include a stamped, addressed envelope if you wish a personal acknowledgement.

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