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Antiques & Collecting: Modern and contemporary furniture comes in unique design

If you like unusual or unique furniture, try going to online auctions of modern or contemporary furniture. The pictured pair of art moderne chairs was sold at a Neal auction in New Orleans for an overbid of $6,100. They are carved from a block of white marble. A similar set made from black marble was also sold. The chairs are barrel-shaped, 28 inches high, 25 inches wide and 27 inches deep.

The first marble furniture was sold in the 16th century. Many modern pieces of marble furniture were made in the mid-1900s and after. A dining room table with an off-center top made of black marble, a bed, dresser, chest, sofa and many bathtubs and sinks were sold and used in modern homes. They are usually special-order pieces.

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Q: When was pottery marked “W. Germany” made?

A: At the end of World War II, Germany was divided into four occupied zones. The zones existed from 1945 to 1949. The four zones were administered by the U.S., Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union. In 1949, the three western zones were reunited and became the Federal Republic of Germany or West Germany. “West Germany” is a mark used from 1949 to 1990. “Western Germany,” “W. Germany” and “Made in W. Germany” were also used by some makers.

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Q: I was given a postcard collection that my mother-in-law got from her grandmother. The postcards are in an album that has perforated pages to hold the cards. Some of the cards are written on and some are not, some are colored and some are black and white. All are in excellent condition and are dated from 1905 through 1908. Do you know of someone who can appraise this collection?

A: Sending postcards and collecting them was very popular in the early 1900s, when almost 700 million postcards were mailed annually in the U.S. Most postcards sell for 25 cents or less, but some made before 1910 sell for much more. Postcards that picture historic views, trains, early automobiles, famous people, streets filled with stores, advertisements, special events, world’s fairs, disasters, holidays, patriotic themes, cards made of unusual materials, mechanical cards, and cards by important postcard artists or publishers are all wanted. Check the stamps on the postcards to see if there are any unusual ones that might have value.

Old postcards sell at flea markets, antiques shops, house sales and postcard auctions. You can go to a postcard show in your area and see what postcards like yours are selling for and whether there is any interest in them. Expect to get 50% to 75% of what the dealer will sell them for. He has to make a profit. Decide if you want to sell single cards or the whole box. If you sell just a few cards to a dealer or collector, you may find no one wants the rest. If you have time, you can sell the ordinary cards online or at any flea market or house sale.

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Q: I’d like information about a pair of figurines I bought at an estate sale. They are about 13 inches tall and are stamped with what looks like an abbey and the words “Gesetzlich Geschutz” and “Mettlach.” Can you tell me anything about them, like the age or maker?

A: Your figurines were made by Villeroy & Boch, a company in Mettlach, Germany. Francois Boch and his sons began making pottery in France in 1748. They moved to Mettlach in 1809 and began making tableware in a former abbey. In 1836, Boch merged with competitor Nicolas Villeroy and the company became Villeroy & Boch. The German words “Gesetzlich Gesch?tzt” translate as “protected by law,” which is similar to “patented.” The mark that looks like an abbey represents the octagonal Old Tower in Mettlach, built in 989. Villeroy & Boch used this mark from 1883 to the 1930s. The company is still in business.

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Q: Fifty-five years ago, I bought a cabin with a stove in the garage. I kept it because I thought it might be valuable. It’s a Variety No. 54. Can you give me any information on this stove?

A: Potbelly stoves were used from the 1800s to the early 1900s to heat parlors, railroad stations, schoolhouses and other buildings. The heavy cast-iron stoves were fired by wood or coal. The round “belly” shape radiated enough heat to warm a large room. Some models had a ring around the middle to keep people from bumping into it and getting burned, nickel-plated decorations and trim, and a flat cooking surface on the top. Potbelly stoves have become popular again for cabins and places that don’t have a furnace. We contacted Good Time Stove Co. (www.goodtimestove.com), which restores antique and vintage stoves, to verify our information. They said it was made between about 1900 and 1920 by the Brigham foundry in Georgia. The foundry closed in the 1940s. Potbelly stoves like yours sell for $200 to $400. Those with nickel trim and ornate decoration sell for more. Stoves that are in poor condition or don’t work can’t be sold.

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