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Antiques Considered - May 13, 2009

 Over the past nine-plus years that I have been writing "Antiques Considered" the instances of receiving architectural antiques have been rare.  
This week is one of them.  Here we have a porcelain doorknob sent from a lady in Lancaster County.  It consists of two white knobs with brass fittings, and on each knob is a hand painted floral scene.  The colors are vibrant, and the set is in excellent condition, but unfortunately, no maker's mark or label is present.
The absence of a maker's mark makes judging these knobs significantly more difficult.  From the look of the porcelain and the quality of the painting, I suspect they are from a factory in Limoges, France, that country's porcelain capital.  I do not think they are standard American Victorian white porcelain knobs on which someone has painted the flowers.  I cannot discern whether the painting is by hand or from a stencil.  The casting of the brass fittings also appears to be quite good
Architectural antiques are popular at present, being used in a wide variety of homes, restaurants, and other buildings to give an added dimension to new construction.   Shops selling such pieces have come into their own, and constitute a major aspect of the overall antiques market.  Here in Virginia, Caravati's in Richmond is perhaps the most extensive architectural antiques business with 40,000 square feet of display space, all of it filled with great items.
Urban renewal projects beginning in the 1950s produced a supply of fine items too good for disposal, thus opening a new market in the antiques arena.  Now that public awareness of the value of historic buildings has increased less demolition occurs, but the market remains strong.
 This doorknob set dates from the last quarter of the nineteenth century, and is worth $60.  A similar plain white Victorian set would be less than half that amount.  This is a great example of excellent quality, and will make a splendid addition to any doorway where it might be installed.
Happy Antiquing ….
• Lisa  and Henry Lane Hull operate Commonwealth Antiques and Appraisals, Inc. at 5150 Jessie DuPont  Hwy. (P.O.Box 35) Wicomico Church, Virginia 22579, a firm which he founded in 1973.  
The appraisal service began in 1976.  Write to him there, or by e-mail at comantqu @ crosslink.net, 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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