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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.

Antiques Considered - May 6, 2009

Several years ago a Northern Neck family purchased this sugar shaker at an estate sale for $2.  The bottom is marked "Hand-painted Nippon", and it is in excellent condition, with no damage to the gold leaf embossing or to the painted blue flowers.  The cork is missing from the bottom.
This piece dates form the turn of the nineteenth century. It is particularly high-quality Nippon, which is the name used for Japanese porcelain of that era.  The colors are quite good, and the overall design is well executed.
Originally, this shaker would have been part of a larger breakfast set, probably including a teapot, coffeepot, creamer, sugar bowl, and fruit bowl.  In other words, it has lost its family.  The missing cork does not affect its value, and a new one should be easily obtainable.
The $2. price was a bargain, as good Nippon sells today for big dollars.  This item is worth $30., and possibly much more to anyone with other pieces which would match it.  I suggest looking on the Internet to see if any similar pieces are available.  Putting together a set might be difficult, but this piece is an excellent start if one is interested.
Japanese porcelain marked "Nippon" is the ancestor of Noritake and other modern makers' products.  It has risen spectacularly in value over the last 30 years, with collectors' clubs having been formed with newsletters and websites.  I know several collectors here in the Northern Neck, who always are eager to learn about new finds coming on the market.
 Whether used or not, the piece never should be put in a dishwasher, lest the brilliant color gold and blue be lost or damaged. This piece is fine for use today, filled with powdered sugar, ready to be sprinkled on homemade pancakes.  What could be better for breakfast?
• 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 - April 29, 2009

   A couple in the Northern Neck inherited a set of four oak dining chairs from his parents, one of which we have pictured here. Family tradition holds that they came here on a steamboat. They have hand-caned seats, which were re-caned when they were refinished about 35 years ago.  One was badly damaged in a move and they are questioning whether to restore it or not.
These chairs date from the 1890s, which makes the possibility of their having arrived here by steamboat quite plausible.  The rope turning on the side pieces is quite good, as is the "printed" swag on the crest.  The term "printed" comes from the technique of pressing into the fresh-cut oak the printed of the design, thus the work is not carving, but printing.
The chairs are typical of that period, but I have not seen ones with this exact design previously.  As a set of four, in perfect condition, they would be worth $500., given their elaborate ornamentation. Depending on the extent of the damage, and the cost of correcting it, restoration of the broken chair is probably a good idea.  If the set of four is complete once again, although I suspect originally it consisted of more than four chairs, the value would be greater than if it consists of three chairs.
Chairs of this nature are not unusual here in the Northern Neck where all of the old hotels at Colonial Beach offered meals as part of the fare, thus dining chairs abounded.  After the Second World War when modern safety standards and the changed economy ended the glory days of the venerable frame hotels were finished.  Many went the auction route, thereby providing furniture for many homes across the area.
This set is good quality, possibly made in Baltimore, and with its Northern Neck background, it provides a vignette of life here in bygone days.

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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