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Antiques Considered - October 6, 2010

This pine desk dates from the mid-nineteenth century.  The owners purchased it at an antique shop in Pennsylvania many years ago.   It already had been refinished, but the knob and hinges are original.  The top contains an inkwell, and the doors are held together with mortise and tenon construction.
The interior below the writing surface has the traditional segmented sections for letters and writing tools, and the cabinet below is plain.  Structurally, it is in excellent condition, and is finished on the back, thus it can be displayed with all four sides visible.

Read more: Antiques Considered - October 6, 2010

Antiques Considered - September 29, 2010

altA couple bought this set of 12 English dinner plates three years ago at an estate sale.  They paid $120 for the set, or $10 apiece.  All are perfect, and the decoration is neither faded nor worn.  They bear no identifying marks. The couple would like to know if the plates were worth the money, and who made them.
The answer is definitely yes.   These are excellent quality Staffordshire, dating from the mid-19th century.  The decoration is similar to Gaudy Welsh or Gaudy Dutch, with brilliant colors of rust, indigo, cobalt and green.  Plates of this quality and number are few and far between on the market.  To have so many in perfect condition is even more remarkable.

Read more: Antiques Considered - September 29, 2010

Antiques Considered - September 22, 2010

Members of a family in the lower Northern Neck have had this stoneware crock for many years.  It bears no mark of origin, and sadly has a large chip on the rim and a severe crack running the length of one side.  They question whether it could be from one of the Shenandoah or Alexandria potteries.  The blue flowers are vibrant, and they go completely around the upper part of the crock.

This piece dates from the 1870's, and is a nice example of the stoneware of that period.  Unfortunately, the cip, and even more the crack, seriously deplete its value.  Perfect, it would be worth $250, but as is , it is largely a decorative piece, unless it could be fitted to make a lamp out of it, and its value is well less than $100.  Even with the chip and crack if the piece bore the imprint of Solomon or Jonathan Bell from the Valley, or one of Milburns or another of the Alexandria potters, the value would be significantly higher.  That much stated, the crock has good lines and good decoration.  

Read more: Antiques Considered - September 22, 2010

Antiques Considered - September 8, 2010

Perhaps prompted by the column on the New Deal mug several weeks ago, a writer from King George tells the interesting story that a relative brought these two mugs home from the Elks Lodge in Stanardsville, Virginia after partying at a social over fifty years ago.  They have remained in the family thereafter.  She is considering donating them to the historical society there.
These two mugs are highly collectible.  They are a porous form of pottery with glazing inside and out. They come from that more refined, pre-plastic age when America both produced and used quality items.  In addition, they have good decorative value, and probably do not have lead in the glaze, always an important consideration.  I can speculate that they came from a factory in Ohio or West Virginia, in both of which places this type of ware was a staple of production.
Any pieces relating to the history of service organizations immediately draw a directed following, whether on e-Bay or in a live auction.  Although such items often do not command high prices, they remain popular with their own set of fans.  Particularly in the case of The Elks, the camaraderie is strong, and members thrive on tales of their club’s history.
I can remember Elks in my childhood wearing their watch fobs with the elk’s tooth set in gold, a symbol that set them apart from members of other fraternal groups.  In Washington the Elks Lodge was one of the most prestigious buildings on K Street; later the club moved it several blocks to a new location, but preserved the structure.
As the mugs are worth $45 each, they remain affordable for folks with relatives who were in the Elks organization, as well as for collectors of mugs and other forms of pottery.  Were they mine, I should keep them as part of family lore, an aspect of their history that would fade away if donated.
Happy Antiquing!

Lisa and Henry Hull operate Commonwealth Antiques and Appraisals, Inc. at 5150 Jessie DuPont Hwy. 22570. (P.O. 35). Wicomico Church, VA 22570. Write to them or e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Antiques Considered - September 1, 2010

The parents of a writer purchased this Maria Martinez charger in 1958 at Santa Clara. It has no chips, cracks or scratches, and only one or two small imperfections prior to the glazing. It is signed on the bottom, and still bears the remnant of a round white paper tag between the names. It is 12 inches in diameter.
At present the pottery of Maria Martinez, who lived from 1881-1980, is very popular, and the auction demand is great. She was born Maria Montoya, and at a young age married Julian Martinez. Soon after their wedding they traveled to the Saint Louis World’s Fair in 1904, where they observed the work of other potters. Her family had disdained the marriage because he had no trade. The native New Mexico community considered pottery to be women’s work, and Julian did not sign the pieces until 1925. From that time until his death in 1943 they signed the works, “Maria and Julian.”

Read more: Antiques Considered - September 1, 2010

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