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Antiques Considered - March 21, 2012

A Lancaster County collector purchased this Sheraton overmantel mirror many years ago.  It has a gilt gesso frame, and the owner has “touched up” some of the missing gilt with gold paint.  He thinks the glass is original as the reverse shows no signs of having been tampered with to replace the mirrors.  A few additional chips have come about to the gilt, and the owner wishes to know if re-gilding would affect the value negatively.

This mirror dates from the 1830s, and although not rare is a good example of the period and the style.  These pieces came along to meet the demands of Federal and Greek Revival houses with large imposing mantels that needed the enhancement of having impressive items above them.

The quality of this example is such that I recommend taking it to a competent restorer to have the previously applied gold paint removed, and that area as well as the more recent chipped section properly gold-leafed.  The process should not be that expensive, but the end result would be more befitting of a piece of this elegance.

The mirror is worth $500.  Proper restoration would increase the dollar amount by whatever the cost of the restoration would be.  It has fine lines, and structurally appears to be in excellent condition.  The Sheraton style is making a comeback, and we are finding that good pieces from that period are selling well.  Chippendale, Queen Anne and Hepplewhite still command higher prices because of their greater appeal.  To illustrate, a Chippendale overmantel mirror would sell for several times what this Sheraton one could bring.

 A final word, I recommend hanging this mirror from both ends, even if it sits on a mantel.  The weight is sufficiently great to cause it to fall off in an earthquake experience such as the one last summer.  Merely placing it on the mantel is insufficient to guarantee its safety.

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.

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