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Antiques Considered - March 31, 2010

A lady in the lower Northern Neck sent this picture of her letterbox, with the interesting information that it had belonged to her husband’s ancestor, who had taken it with him while on service during the War Between the States.  The box is walnut, and it retains the original paper lining, as well as the lock, but the key is missing.
This box is a fine example of nineteenth-century craftsmanship.  The tone of the wood is good, indicating that its finish is original, and the presence of the original paper lining is quite impressive.  Many times people thought they were improving such pieces by re-lining them.  Happily, in this case that never happened.
As to the oral tradition that it went through the War with the ancestor, the age and appearance of the box conform perfectly.  The problem in attributing such provenance comes with the lack of documentation.  Clearly, the tradition must be accurate, but without documentary evidence, rather than word-of-mouth passage, that aspect of its value cannot be substantiated.  

Read more: Antiques Considered - March 31, 2010

Antiques Considered - March 24, 2010

Earlier this month I attended the meeting of the Lancaster Woman’s Club in Lancaster Courthouse, one of the most delightful villages in the Northern Neck. The president, Jean Nead, had engaged me to conduct a session evaluating objects that the membership brought to the meeting.
I saw many fine pieces including the American pattern spillholder that I am pictured holding. Today many people refer to these items as “spooners” because after the invention of matches they no longer served their original purpose of holding the spills that folks made to light their fires. In those days people took newspaper and rolled it into long twists with which they could transfer fire from the fireplace to candles.

Read more: Antiques Considered - March 24, 2010

Antiques Considered - March 17, 2010

A lady in King George acquired this pair of glazed pots from a Masonic Lodge in Maine where they had been stored there for many years.  They bear no identifying marks, and are in pristine condition.  They are 9 1/2 inches tall and 13 inches wide.  
These pots, more properly "cachepots", most likely originated at a pottery in Ohio.  From the shape and color, dark on tan, they appear to date from the 1920s.  Ohio had many glass and pottery factories, which put out great quantities of wares.  Items such as these were the rage in the inter-war years and into the 1950s.  I can recall similar pieces from childhood at our family home in Colonial Beach.

Read more: Antiques Considered - March 17, 2010

Antiques Considered - March 10, 2010

    At a recent estate sale that our firm conducted, one of the customers came with several pieces of her china tea service, which she asked me to examine.  Although I saw only a few of the pieces it consists of five cups and saucers, five scone plates, a tray, and a set of a lidded sugar and creamer on their own tray.  The surfaces bear hand-painted decoration of birds and flowers.  She has since sent this photograph via e-mail with a description.
    Most importantly, the bottom hallmark bears the inscription that the pieces were made by  "Paragon Fine China to commemorate the Birth of the Princess Margaret Rose, Aug. 21, 1930.  England."  Princess Margaret (1930 – 2002) was the younger sister of the present Queen, the daughter of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, who were Duke and Duchess of York at the time of her birth.  She was a popular figure in Britain, and ironically died three days after the fiftieth anniversary of her father's death, and less than two months before her mother's.

Read more: Antiques Considered - March 10, 2010

Antiques Considered - March 3, 2010

A local gentleman recently purchased this lady's work table.  The mahogany veneer was in poor condition, and the piece has been refinished, with the missing veneer having been replaced.  The secondary wood is yellow pine.   He thinks the hardware are replacements, but the casters are original.
This work table dates from the mid-19th century, between 1840 and 1860.  As readers are aware, I usually recommend not refinishing antique furniture, but in this instance, with the need to replace missing veneer, refinishing does not have such a negative effect.  I say that because most individuals would not like having a piece of furniture with chunks of missing veneer in their homes.  In time the sheen of the new finish will dull down and not be so obvious.

Read more: Antiques Considered - March 3, 2010

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