Antiques & Collecting: Sometimes copies of antiques are valuable
Although antique dealers tell us early 1900s oak furniture doesn’t sell, average Chippendale pieces are not wanted and fancy French designs of the past are out of style, some average examples and even good copies can be useful and a good investment.
In 1899, Wallace Nutting started photographing, hand-coloring and selling scenes that had a “Colonial” look. He bought and borrowed the furniture and accessories, and sold thousands of the pictures. There were some historic flaws in the pictures, like hooked rugs in front of the fireplace in an early 1700s scene. Eventually, he started to make and sell accurate copies of his furniture. Today, there are collectors of Wallace Nutting furniture as well as the photographs.
In the 1920s, Peter Hunt decided to paint early wooden furniture with the colorful peasant designs he developed. It became popular as a style, and today, Peter Hunt furniture sells for more than the type of furniture he repainted.
Costume jewelry also was made to look like expensive gold and gem-set originals. Nowadays, the best of signed costume jewelry can sell for thousands of dollars.
A Wallace Nutting tavern table made in the early 20th century as a copy of an 18th-century table sold at a Garth’s auction for $469.
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Q: Anything old that pictures Uncle Sam is wanted for my collection. I have posters, advertising cards, cigar labels, product labels, toys, printed fabrics, dishes with the classic Uncle Sam in a top hat with stars and a stripes shirt, and even a folk-art carved broom handle that looks like a thin Uncle Sam. Friends say it wasn’t legal to show him smoking. Are these pictures more valuable?
A: Your friends may be confusing the story with the baseball card that is now very rare because it was an ad for cigarettes, and the player made them stop using his image to promote smoking. There also are limits to the legal use of the president’s name or image to promote a product without special permission. But Uncle Sam is a caricature and he is often copied. Smoking was popular, and no one had suggested nicotine was bad for the health when Uncle Sam was first pictured. The cigar or cigarette he held in ads represented his strength. The creation of Uncle Sam as a symbol representing the United States was created by Thomas Nast during the 1860s after the Civil War, but was soon associated with the Spanish-American War, Cuban independence and thoughts of cigars. He was named for Samuel Wilson, who supplied food to troops during the War of 1812. James Montgomery Flag redesigned Uncle Sam, and gave him the white beard and stars-and-stripes suit. That version became famous with a military recruiting
poster in 1916. Cigars do not change the value of an Uncle Sam likeness, although younger generations of Americans have learned cigars cause bad health, so an icon of the United States isn’t expected to have the bad habit.
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Q: I have a Napanee Dutch Kitchenet in very good condition except for missing brackets that connect the top and base of the cabinet. I’d like information on where I might be able to buy replacement brackets.
A: The Napanee Line of Dutch Kitchenet kitchen cabinets was introduced in about 1914 by Coppes Brothers and Zook of Nappanee, Indiana. Freestanding kitchen cabinets like these were also made by Hoosier and other manufacturers. They were popular from about 1900 until the 1930s, when built-in cabinets became available. Sources for replacement parts can be found by searching online. One source for vintage kitchen cabinet hardware is Hardwareofthepast.com.
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Q: I have a cup and saucer marked with a crown over crossed swords and the letters “R” and “C” between the swords. An ampersand is between the sword handles. Below that, it reads “Pompadour.” Who made this, and what is it worth?
A: Your cup and saucer were made by Philipp Rosenthal & Co., which started in Selb, Bavaria, in 1891. This mark was used from 1891 to 1904. Several variations of the mark were used later. Pompadour is the name of the shape. Rosenthal bought other companies and eventually had factories in several other German cities. The brand became part of the Arcturus Group in 2009. The value of your cup and saucer is about $25.
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Q: I have a large professional photograph of a group of Boy Scouts with the date 1911 written on the edge of it. My father is in the picture, but there are no names on the back. His family came from Germany in 1904 when he was six years old. They lived in Brooklyn, New York. I understand the Boy Scouts started in New York City and wonder if this might be a picture of it.
A: The Boy Scouts of America started in 1910. The National Headquarters was in New York City from 1910 to 1927, when it moved to New Jersey. The National Council moved to Irving, Texas, in 1978. Your photograph may be of an early troop and might be of interest to the Greater New York Councils in New York City or to the National Council in Texas. You can find contact information online.
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Tip: To date an antique chair, look under the seat frame. Eighteenth-century chairs were braced with a thin piece of wood across the front corners of the set. Later chairs were braced with a solid block of wood screwed into each corner.
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Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer questions sent to the column. By sending a letter with a question and a picture, you give full permission for use in the column or any other Kovel forum. Names, addresses or email addresses will not be published. We cannot guarantee the return of photographs, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The amount of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovels, The Journal, King Features Syndicate, P.O. Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122.
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Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.
Doll, Navajo, stuffed cloth, blue velvet blouse, red bottons, striped cotton skirt, beaded necklace, woolen black hair, 1950s, 12 inches, $84.
Toy truck, fire pumper, red, silver, white rubber tires, wooden rims, cast iron, Hubley, 1930s, 5 inches, $150.
Chess set, lapis lazuli, white marble, white border, fitted case, Morita Gil, 10 3/4 x 10 3/4 inches, $258.
Medical, prosthetic leg, maple, leather, metal hinges at knee, shoe, brown, c. 1900, 31 inches, $282.
Imari, charger, blue-and-white border, birds, flowers, red, white, green center, 1900s, 17 inches, $295.
Lamp, electric, three-light, caramel slag glass, laurel leaves, urn, silver tone base, vines, signed, Miller, 24 x 15 inches, $405.
Game table, George II, mahogany, demilune, gateleg, skirt, quarter mold edge, cabriole legs, 28 x 33 inches, $707.
Silver pitcher, cylindrical, quilted, twist handle, Earl Evans, Alfredo Ortega & Sons, Mexico, 7 1/2 inches, $1,020.
Silver wine cooler, flowers, double handle, Benjamin Smith II & James Smith III, England, 1811, 8 3/4 x 8 1/2 inches, $2,750.
Bronze sculpture, Sorel Etrog, walking figure, Canada, 1933, 8 inches, $6,875.
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