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Antiques Considered - May 8, 2013

This bentwood cradle belongs to a family from the Shenandoah Valley, now living in the Northern Neck. The wood appears to be oak, and the owners think the handmade mattress is original. The finish is also original.
 Cradles are interesting period pieces, and this one is a good example of the style of the late nineteenth century into the early twentieth century.

The spindles might be oak, but the bent frame is probably ash. The slight cracking of those two pieces is normal, and they should remain stable hereafter.

If the mattress appears to be old, it most likely is original. Cradles did not receive heavy wear, as the baby-occupants were in them usually less than a year. The homespun mattress is an asset in considering the cradle’s overall value.

Cradles are indicative of the truth that antiques are commodities, the values of which come and go. At present, cradles do not bring as much as they did 30 years ago. In the 1950s using them in living rooms and dens as magazine holders was the decorating rage, consequently they brought higher prices as the demand was great. That fad seems to have abated, and now cradles are more difficult to sell. This one is worth $175, a significantly lower sum than it would have been some years ago.

My mother was part of the demand movement when cradles were popular, and the one she bought in the Shenandoah Valley over 50 years ago, served more recently not as a magazine rack, but as our two children’s first bed for the initial year of their lives. My wife made a new mattress for it, and it worked quite well in its original function.

As to the future, popularity is relative, and undoubtedly one day cradles will make a comeback on the market. In the meantime, keep rocking.

Happy Antiquing!

Henry Lane Hull and his wife, Lisa, own Commonwealth Antiques & Appraisals, Inc. P.O. Box 35. Wicomico Church, VA 22579. You may call them at 804.580.330 or email them at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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