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Antiques Considered - June 23, 2010

A writer in King George has e-mailed us pictures of her pair of Celadon plates, which she inherited from her grandmother.  They have the typical extensive Celadon decoration, and pale green lustre finish.  They are   7&1/2 inches in diameter.  The marks on the rear show that they date from before 1891, and, most importantly, indicate that they were for domestic use, rather than being for export.  The Oriental craftsmen often saved their best work for home consumption.
These plates are Chinese, and date from the mid to late nineteenth-century.  The hand-painted decoration is excellent, and the dissimilarities further demonstrate that the pieces are hand-done.  Celadon came into its own a generation ago, and has become one of the most popular oriental genres over the last 40 years, but Canton and Rose Medallion remain the most collectible of oriental porcelains.  It is a very durable porcelain of great density, and does not chip as easily as some European or American china.

Read more: Antiques Considered - June 23, 2010

Antiques Considered - June 16, 2010

A couple in the lower Northern Neck has an interesting story about these two Staffordshire pieces.  The one of the two Turkish soldiers standing in front of the mosque represents a scene from the Crimean War.  They bought it at an antique shop in North Carolina more than 30 years ago.  The spires have slight damage to the tops, and indicate a crude effort at restoration many years ago.
The piece on the right in the photograph is contemporary to the other.  It shows a couple reading the newspaper under a tree.  The headline in the paper reads, “WAR.”  In short, they are learning the news about the Crimean War from the press reports.  The piece came from the legendary Staffordshire connoisseur Carroll B. Barnes about 20 years ago on one of his visits to his family homes in the Northern Neck.  The paint tones on each piece indicate that the same artist in the Staffordshire factory likely painted them.
The reunion of these two pieces is indeed a stroke of good fortune.  At the time of the Crimean War, 1853 to 1856, England was the dominant nation in Europe.  The Staffordshire pottery factories responded to the War with production of items such as these to engender patriotic fervor for the war effort, as well as to generate sales to the British middle class.

Read more: Antiques Considered - June 16, 2010

Antiques Considered - June 9, 2010

A gentleman who specializes in locating log cabins, dismantling them, and reassembling them in new locations, acquired this door many years ago, intending to use it, but never has found a place for it.  It came from an old Victorian home in Irvington, and has not been painted, but retains the original varnish.  The oval glass has a two-inch bevel, and all the pieces of the dentil work are in tact.  The smaller doors pictured at the bottom are mahogany, and from an early twentieth-century yacht.
This door dates from the late nineteenth or early twentieth century.  The wood appears to be cypress, and the separation of the joints is easily fixable.  The finish is not in good condition, but the absence of paint is a decided plus.  A skilled joiner could make the door work in a restoration of an older home, or in the construction of a new one.

Read more: Antiques Considered - June 9, 2010

Antiques Considered - June 2, 2010

An old Northern Neck family has owned this armoire for several generations.  It was from their family home, and had been stored in an area without climate control.  The result was a heavily aligatored finish that the owners did not want in their immaculate home.  Before the restoration they could not be certain as to what wood it was, the finish had deteriorated so badly. It turned out to be a naturally dark oak.  They had a refinisher do the piece over, and today it is the closet in their guest room.
This armoire dates from the 1880s, and is an excellent example of its genre.  Happily this one has not been converted into an entertainment center, a process that often can reduce the value.   The veneering on the door panels is quite good, and the cornice has fine architectural features.  The sides are paneled, not solid, and the hardware may not be original.  I cannot tell from the photograph.
The likelihood that the piece is from a Baltimore furniture factory is high.  It dates from the heyday of the steamboat era, and well could have come to the Northern Neck disassembled by boat on order from one of the ancestors.  Almost all Victorian armoires of this type can be disassembled and packed in a crate.

Read more: Antiques Considered - June 2, 2010

Antiques Considered - May 26, 2010

A young couple in Lancaster County inherited this late Empire sofa from his family.  It was in poor condition, and they undertook its restoration and re-upholstery.  Tradition holds that it was saved from the family’s Ante Bellum home when a Union Army gunboat went up Dymer Creek firing on the houses.  Today the sofa is in excellent condition, the wood being mahogany and mahogany veneer over pine.
The appearance of the sofa and the family tradition are completely in sync.  This sofa dates from 1840, the end of the Empire Period and the beginning of the Victorian.  By the 1860s the sofa would have been a prized piece of furniture in the family seat, well worthy of saving while the home was under fire.

Read more: Antiques Considered - May 26, 2010

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