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Antiques Considered - September 23, 2009

 




A Westmoreland County collector has asked about her footed Nippon dish with its perforated holes in the bottom, an item she acquired at an estate sale. She has not seen any like it previously, and questions why the holes are there.
Nippon refers to the Japanese porcelain made for export, principally to the United States, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. For a long time, collectors eschewed it, thinking it was cheap and not significant, consequently, it brought very little on the market.
About 30 years ago it came into its own, and today is highly desirable. It always sells well, whether in shops, at estate sales or at auctions. The more extensive the decoration, the better as far as price goes. Ironically, it is especially popular in the South. I know some collectors who have hundreds of pieces, but they are individuals who insist that their pieces be perfect. Damaged Nippon is virtually impossible to sell, and unless it is artist-signed, the cost of professional restoration is beyond feasibility.

 

Read more: Antiques Considered - September 23, 2009

Antiques Considered - September 16, 2009

This platter comes from a family in Northumberland County. It is black-on-white transfer, and hallmarked simply “New York.” Clearly it is a view of Lower Manhattan, dating from the 1840s. The platter was damaged, and the cracks and holes have been restored, but not painted. The owner questions whether to have them painted or not.
This platter is typical of the Staffordshire production of the mid-19th century. The black-on-white finish makes a clear impression, as opposed to some pieces with paler and more muted tones, such as violet or light blue. The design is quite good, and if I had the choice and the money, I should go for the re-painting. Under black light the restoration still will show, but once re-painted the piece will display more effectively.

Read more: Antiques Considered - September 16, 2009

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...

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