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Antiques Considered - June 10, 2009

A lady from Northumberland County bought this platform rocking chair a number of years ago.  The wood is walnut and the upholstery, which is not original, is in excellent condition, although it is bright red.
This piece dates from the 1870s.  Fortunately, the previous owner kept the original lines when the chair was re-upholstered: The tufting on the back was repeated. Often, to save money, people have Victorian pieces re-covered without having the tufting repeated. Despite the money spent with the upholsterer, this practice lessens the overall value.  Here that did not happen.
The carving on the crest is exceptionally well done, and the overall lines are excellent.  The chair shows the profound influence of Charles Eastlake, the Victorian designer who popularized the intaglio cut motif, which has been applied to the side carvings, apron and back.  I suspect it came from a cabinet shop in the mid-Atlantic region, probably New York or Pennsylvania.

Read more: Antiques Considered - June 10, 2009

Antiques Considered - June 3, 2009

This picture of an  comes from an estate in the Middle Peninsula.  It has been in the same house for generations, and is in excellent condition.  The upper crown will not fit in the present setting due to the low ceilings, but fortunately the owners have saved it.  The mirrors are beveled, and they, the hardware and the finish are original.
This armoire dates from the 1880s, and is one of the finest pieces of its kind that I ever have seen.  It is probably of mid-Atlantic origin, and possibly could have a maker's label on the back. Although a factory piece, the attention to detail is extraordinary, especially with respect to the carving.  It is typically Victorian in that it "mixes metaphors" when it comes to defining its style.
The mirrors reflect a French theme, while the carving is totally American Victorian.  The use of oak, rather than walnut or mahogany, is not unusual, but today the value would be greater had the material been one of the other woods.

Read more: Antiques Considered - June 3, 2009

Antiques Considered - May 27, 2009


A couple in Northumberland County have a pitcher collection, two of which they have pictured here.  The white one is English salt-glazed, and the yellow and green one is American majolica. Both are in good condition.  The white one is in a floral motif, and has an embossed, illegible mark on the bottom, and is ten inches high.  The corncob one, which is really a mug, rather than a pitcher, is unmarked, and is eight inches high.

The white salt-glazed one probably dates from the 1840s or 1850s, and is clearly Staffordshire.  Salt-glaze pottery is quite popular, and represents one of the high points of nineteenth-century artistry.  The design, mixing the Gothic Revival pointed arches entwined with ivy, is another manifestation of the return to medieval motifs that characterized the mid-Victorian period.

Read more: Antiques Considered - May 27, 2009

Antiques Considered - May 20, 2009

A writer from King George has inquired about her antique bench, which her husband's parents gave the couple about 10 years ago.  Twenty years prior to the gift the parents had traded a local antique dealer an old organ or piano for the bench.  The top of the seat lifts up to reveal a large storage area.

This bench appears to be walnut, and the finish seems to be original.  Perhaps I am going out on a limb, but I think it is probably Italian, dating from the nineteenth century, replicating the Renaissance style of several hundred years earlier.  The hand carving is exquisite, and the overall condition seems to be excellent.  From the hairy paw feet, through the lion's head arms, to the fruited crest, the attention to detail is extraordinary.

The trade for the organ must go down as one of the great antiques coups of modern times.  Most old organs are difficult to sell, and rarely bring as much as $300, but this bench is easily worth $1,500, and I possibly would go even higher upon seeing it in person.  
If I am correct in assuming it is Italian, it represents a very hot field.  Nearly 20 years ago I attended a Christie's auction in New York City where I saw a fine Italian baroque desk, which was estimated to sell for $12,000 to $18,000, go in less than 60 seconds for $264,000.  I do not mean to equate this piece with that desk, but rather to use a personal illustration to demonstrate the high demand for superb Italian pieces.

Over the years I have seen several fine Italian antiques in private collections here in the Northern Neck, and this piece could hold its own with the best of them.  It is the work of a genuine artisan, a master craftsman whose talents range from the splendid design to the execution of the detailed carving.

Happy Antiquing ….
• Lisa  and Henry Lane Hull operate Commonwealth Antiques and Appraisals, Inc. at 5150 Jessie DuPont  Hwy. (P.O.Box 35) Wicomico Church, Virginia 22579, a firm which he founded in 1973.  The appraisal service began in 1976.  Write to him there, or by e-mail at comantqu @ crosslink.net, with pictures and descriptions of items you wish to have him treat in "Antiques Considered."  Please include a stamped, addressed envelope if you wish a personal acknowledgement.

Antiques Considered - May 13, 2009

 Over the past nine-plus years that I have been writing "Antiques Considered" the instances of receiving architectural antiques have been rare.  
This week is one of them.  Here we have a porcelain doorknob sent from a lady in Lancaster County.  It consists of two white knobs with brass fittings, and on each knob is a hand painted floral scene.  The colors are vibrant, and the set is in excellent condition, but unfortunately, no maker's mark or label is present.
The absence of a maker's mark makes judging these knobs significantly more difficult.  From the look of the porcelain and the quality of the painting, I suspect they are from a factory in Limoges, France, that country's porcelain capital.  I do not think they are standard American Victorian white porcelain knobs on which someone has painted the flowers.  I cannot discern whether the painting is by hand or from a stencil.  The casting of the brass fittings also appears to be quite good
Architectural antiques are popular at present, being used in a wide variety of homes, restaurants, and other buildings to give an added dimension to new construction.   Shops selling such pieces have come into their own, and constitute a major aspect of the overall antiques market.  Here in Virginia, Caravati's in Richmond is perhaps the most extensive architectural antiques business with 40,000 square feet of display space, all of it filled with great items.
Urban renewal projects beginning in the 1950s produced a supply of fine items too good for disposal, thus opening a new market in the antiques arena.  Now that public awareness of the value of historic buildings has increased less demolition occurs, but the market remains strong.
 This doorknob set dates from the last quarter of the nineteenth century, and is worth $60.  A similar plain white Victorian set would be less than half that amount.  This is a great example of excellent quality, and will make a splendid addition to any doorway where it might be installed.
Happy Antiquing ….
• Lisa  and Henry Lane Hull operate Commonwealth Antiques and Appraisals, Inc. at 5150 Jessie DuPont  Hwy. (P.O.Box 35) Wicomico Church, Virginia 22579, a firm which he founded in 1973.  
The appraisal service began in 1976.  Write to him there, or by e-mail at comantqu @ crosslink.net, with pictures and descriptions of items you wish to have him treat in "Antiques Considered."  Please include a stamped, addressed envelope if you wish a personal acknowledgement.

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