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Antiques Considered - November 26, 2008

This pair of wicker rocking chairs come from an estate in Lancaster County.  The purchaser bought them for $100, and asks if he should repaint them.  Presently they are painted tan, but he is certain that is not the original color.  One has two small breaks in the wicker on one arm, but otherwise they are in fine condition.
These rocking chairs date from the late nineteenth century or early twentieth century.  They show the use of the heavy wicker caning, and despite the two small breaks, appear to be quite presentable.  Unless one is anxious to perpetuate a shabby chic motif, no harm will come from repainting them in a desirable color.
 They will come out more successfully if you use a sprayer, rather than a brush, in painting them.  Originally, I suspect they were either white or dark green.   The upholstery obviously is not original, and I should not hesitate to recover using a more appropriate fabric, preferably in a plain tone or in striped cloth.
Perhaps no other genre of antiques has surpassed wicker in surging prices over the last three decades.  In the 1970s these chairs would have sold for $25 each, at most.  Wicker was not popular and few people appreciated its quality or decorative value.  Today the situation is precisely the reverse.
Wicker always sells for hefty prices, and only grows in popularity.  Antique suites, one of which likely contained these two rocking chairs and a settee, tea cart, and a couple of lolling chairs, along with a table or two, and the ubiquitous fernstand, frequently bring over $1,000.  At $100. for both of these, the buyer did very well.  I have seen similar ones for $150. each.
We think of modern technology as being on a constant upswing, but with wicker, the reverse is true.  Modern pieces are not of the quality of these earlier ones, and will not last as long.  The pieces made in this generation are virtually indestructible, and wear well through the years.

• 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. Snapshots once sent on to the JOURNAL for publication, cannot be returned.
 

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