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Antiques Considered - September 9, 2009

This week we have a Chinese Export teapot from a family in Northumberland County.  It came from an estate sale, on the last day when prices had been reduced.  The owner assumed it had not sold because the handle had been repaired, and bought it for $5.
This teapot dates from the early 19th century, a time when the citizens of the young Republic were achieving a level of affluence whereby they could afford to import from China.  Most people considered having Chinese export pieces in their homes to be a mark of distinction. Certainly this piece was part of a larger tea service.
The repair is typical of that done in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, in that it consists of using metal staples and a composition to hold the sections together.  The process was quite expensive, and it too connoted an indication of a family's wealth.  From the appearance of the repair, I would surmise that it was done to make the piece useful once again, rather than merely to make it look better when displayed.
Chinese Export is a term which describes the porcelain made in China for export to America or Europe.  The texture of the make-up and the smoothness of the finish were pleasing to foreign eyes and soon makers in England began copying the Chinese.  Lowestoft became the center of British manufacture of Chinese-style china.
In perfect condition this 1810 teapot would be worth $400, but the repair eviscerates that sum, despite having cost dearly itself.  As is, the value is $90, but on the right day at the right auction a knowledgeable collector might go higher.  The perfect pieces are few in number and are competitive in any market where they appear.  I have sold good teapots for as much as $700.
Happy antiquing!

Antiques Considered - August 26, 2009

This simple, primitive New England Hepplewhite table comes from a lady whose late father inherited it. The wood is maple, and the originality of the finish is in question.
The peg construction remains the vehicle for holding the boards together, as succeeding generations have not added nails to support it. The condition is good, and the table is sturdy. The table does not have a drawer.
Tables of this variety are not rare, but this one is quite nice. The tone of the wood is excellent, and whether the finish is original or not, the present version is attractive. I strongly recommend against refinishing the present surface.

Read more: Antiques Considered - August 26, 2009

Antiques Considered - August 19, 2009

 altThese two chairs come from a home in New England, and have been in the same family, that of a lady from Virginia, since the nineteenth century.  They retain the original green paint, as well as the original stenciling, which fortunately has not been retouched. Each still is sturdy, and is in daily use.
The chairs date from the period from 1820 to 1840, and most likely are of new Hampshire origin.  Painted furniture flourished in the Granite State, to such an extent that it was a worthy rival of Baltimore, the Queen of American Painted Furniture.
Painting furniture was a way of overcoming the appearance of having used mixed woods in construction.  I suspect that these chairs are composed of pine, maple and hickory.   By painting them, they achieved a uniformity of design.  Also, people could order the painted furniture in the colors they wanted to meet the needs of their décor.
Clearly, these were part of a larger suite of six or eight chairs intended for use in the dining room.  The group also might have included a table, server and sideboard.  Possibly such pieces could have parted company in estate divisions over the years.  The scoring on the legs, and rails, the stenciling on the crests, vase-splat back and front of the seat is excellent, and the green tone is typical of the second quarter of the nineteenth century.
The chairs are worth $450 for the pair, partly because they are in such good condition, but also because they are from a genre, which is particularly high in demand at present.  I suggest keeping them in as close to original condition as possible.  I offer this advice inasmuch as I have seen hundreds of similar pieces which have been stripped by folks who thought they were increasing their value.  These are wonderful pieces of Americana.
Happy Antiquing...

Antiques Considered - August 12, 2009

A piggy bank collector in the Northern Neck recently purchased this one on a business trip at a thrift shop for $1.99.  At the cash register healt received a 15% senior discount.  It is brown pottery, with traces of red underneath.  It is in excellent condition, and shows very little sign of wear.  He considers it to be a great find, and says it was the only good thing he found in the huge store.  He thinks it has one coin inside.
This piggy bank appears to be Pennsylvania redware, and, if so, dates from the mid-nineteenth century.  The modeling and coloration are quite nice, and the condition is astounding.  I say that because piggy banks were not made for lasting beauty, but to encourage children to save change, with the ultimate thought that the bank would be smashed to retrieve the money.
 Sadly, most such banks met that fate, thus decreasing the supply, and, for collectors, thereby increasing the value.  This one appears not to have been used, which accounts for its pristine condition.
Banks have been popular for decades, and good ceramic ones fetch great prices.  This one seems almost too good to be true, with no chips, cracks or other indications of use.  I do not think it is a reproduction, but even if it is, the price was a true bargain.  As a reproduction it is worth $25., but as an original, ten times that amount.
This discovery proves that one never knows what lies around the corner in a rummage shop.  If one is willing to go through the morass of "stuff" hidden treasures might appear, all of which enhances the excitement of the hunt.  From the photograph this item seems to be authentic, and if it is, it was more than worth the effort.
Happy Antiquing...

Antiques Considered - August 5, 2009

altThis overlay cut glass vase comes from an estate in the Northern Neck.  The base color is green, and the thickness is about equal for the green and the white layers.   It still bears a worn old handwritten label from an antique shop indicating it once was priced at $40., but there is no original label or identifying hallmark. The enamel and gold leaf decoration is in fine condition, and the owner wonders if it could have been one of a pair.
Overlay cut glass is quite popular, and this is a very good example of it.   Most such pieces have red or blue as their base colors, but certainly green could not be called rare. At the factory the original green base received a white overlay application, after the firing of which the glasscutter made the marks which reveal the green beneath the white.The question of whether it is American or European is difficult to answer.  British, Italian, Austrian and American glassmakers produced such pieces, but from the overall appearance I would consider it to be American, dating from the early twentieth century, at the latest the 1930s.

Read more: Antiques Considered - August 5, 2009

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