KOVELS: Stickley and Roycroft known for their simple furniture | Community
Arts and Crafts furniture was all the rage from the late 19th to early 20th centuries. It was very different from the ornate styles of the earlier Victorian era. It had the advantage of new tools and mass production. The Arts and Crafts movement promoted skilled craftsmanship, quality workmanship, and simple, sturdy forms.
Iconic Arts and Crafts and Mission workshops, like Stickley and Roycroft, are known for simple dark oak furniture with little ornamentation. That doesn’t mean every Arts and Crafts piece is a simple, heavy box!
This umbrella stand, which sold for $300 at a Selkirk auction in St. Louis, has a light and intricate look. However, its design uses straight lines and simple geometric shapes. Its spherical legs create a sturdy look; and, as an umbrella stand, it was designed with use in mind.
Q: I found an old electric toaster from the 1920s at a flea market. I use it as decoration in my kitchen. What is the history of toasters?
A: Toasting bread with electricity instead of over a fire was made possible in 1905, when American metallurgist Albert L. Marsh developed a nickel-chromium alloy he called “Chromel”. It had low electrical conductivity, infusibility, and resistance to oxidation, making it the ideal metal for fashioning filament wires and coils for heating elements. In 1908, General Electric patented its own nickel-chromium alloy containing iron. It was called “calorie”. In 1909, GE introduced its commercially successful D-12 toaster, invented by Frank Shailor, 19 years before bread slicers were invented in 1928. Over the next 100 years, toasters were made of metal, wood, porcelain and bakelite. The value of a vintage toaster depends on its rarity, its aesthetics and the design of its electrical and mechanical works. We’re amused by a toaster twice as long as the others that toasts bread by sending it through the long toaster instead of popping out.
Q: My favorite doll growing up was Tearie Dearie. I remember playing with her for hours and being amazed that she could “drink” water from a bottle and then cry and wet a diaper. Are dolls like this collectible?
A: Many dolls from the 1960s and 1970s are collectible purely for sentimental reasons. Tearie Dearie is one. It was made by Ideal Toy Co. (in business from 1907 to 1997) from 1964. It was 9 inches tall and made of vinyl. She came in a pink plastic crib that also served as her bath. The doll and case sold for $2.88. A set of three outfits was $4.97, and the doll, case, and outfits were sold together for $7.77. Depending on condition and accessories, it now sells for around $25. There is nothing wrong with collecting for sentimental reasons!
Q: I have a Regulator wall clock with Roman numerals that uses “IIII” instead of “IV” for the number 4. Is this unusual? Does this make the clock more valuable?
A: The Roman numeral “IIII” is common in clocks made before 1850. Later makers sometimes use the numeral to imitate older styles. Age is just one characteristic of a desirable antique clock; whether or not the clock works and how rare it is are also important factors. There are many types of antique clocks and prices can vary greatly depending on the quality of the clock and what buyers are looking for. Prices can range from under $100 to tens of thousands of dollars. Unusual materials such as gilding, marble or porcelain; details such as three-dimensional figures, advertisements or colored graphics; a famous manufacturer; and chimes can all increase the value of an antique clock.
Q: I found a vintage bracelet with several amber stones. Some stones are darker brown than others. Are they discolored? Can they be cleaned or restored?
A: Amber is not a stone; it is the sap of a tree. It comes in different shades. Yellow is common and light reddish-brown is the most desirable. The different colors of your bracelet are not faded; they show the variety of colors of amber, which may be part of its appeal. Beware of imitation amber; glass and plastic can look like the real thing. In fact, collectors often call yellow glass “amber” for its color, and real amber, being fossilized tree resin, is technically a natural plastic. One way to test a piece of amber is to dissolve 4 teaspoons of salt in 8 ounces of water and see if the stone floats. Real amber floats, but glass sinks. Another test is to rub amber with a piece of woolen cloth and collect static electricity. Small scraps of paper will stick to the amber.
Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer reader questions sent to the column. Send a letter with a question describing the size, material (glass, pottery) and what you know about the item. Include only two photos, the item and a close-up of any marks or damage. Make sure your name and return address are included. By submitting a question, you are giving full permission for use in any Kovel product. Names, addresses or e-mail addresses will not be published. We do not guarantee the return of photographs, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. Questions that are answered will appear in Kovels’ posts. Write to Kovels, (Name of this newspaper), King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803 or email us at [email protected]