YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Nesting Tables: Out of One Comes Many

December 20, 1986|RALPH KOVEL and TERRY KOVEL

Stack tables are not a new idea. The nesting tables were first made in the late 18th Century by Thomas Sheraton, the English cabinetmaker. The first ones were made of satinwood or mahogany, later ones of papier-mache, Chinese-style lacquer and other types of finishes. Nesting tables were made in sets of three or four tables. They were designed to fit one under the other. This meant a group of tables would take the same space as one.

In the 18th Century, furniture was placed near the wall and was moved to an appropriate place when used. At tea time a servant would pull a chair and a small table from the wall to the center of the room. After tea the furniture was moved back to the wall so the space in the center of the room was kept open. The nesting tables survived the change of style that moved the furniture to a permanent position in the center of the room. The small light tables were still needed as game boards. They also held dishes for unexpected company. Today's TV snack sets are the 20th-Century version of a nesting table.

Question: I collect Shawnee Corn King dishes. Did anyone else make a similar pattern?

Answer: Corn King was made by the Shawnee Pottery Co. of Zanesville, Ohio, from about 1950 to 1954. The lighter colored Corn Queen was made from 1954 to 1961. Many other companies made similar realistic corn-shaped dishes. American Pottery of Peoria, Ill.; Brush Pottery, J. W. McCoy, and Brush McCoy Pottery of Roseville, Ohio; Paden City Pottery of Sisterville, W. Va.; Standard Pottery of East Liverpool, Ohio; and Stanford Pottery of Sebring, Ohio, all made similar dinnerware.

Q: I just purchased my first antique, a silver spoon holder. It is lettered on the bottom "James W. Tufts, Boston, Warranteed, Quadruple Plate." Did I buy a real antique? Please tell me something about spoon holders.

A: The trademark for James W. Tufts was registered in 1875 for silver-plated wares. The company worked in Boston, Mass., until about 1915. Spoon holders were popular during all of those years. The table setting of the day included a glass or silver holder for teaspoons. Some holders were shaped like small, two-handled vases and the spoons were placed inside. The spoon holder usually was a circular rack with small slots surrounding it that held about eight to 12 spoons. Some very unusual spoon holders included glass bowls, small figurines, double cups on a stand, bells or other embellishments. The spoon holder went out of fashion by World War I. Your piece could be from 70 to 100 years old.

Q: Does a patent number tell when an item was patented in the United States?

A: The patent number is a rough guide to the age of an antique. Patent No. 1 was assigned in 1836. You can learn the exact date of a patent and all the information about the object and who took out the patent by doing research at a major library that has the "Official Gazette of the U.S. Patent Office." You can order a copy of a patent from the Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Washington, D.C. 20231. If you need only a rough date remember the numbers were larger than 550,000 in 1896, larger than 1,500,000 in 1926, larger than 2,300,000 in 1946, and almost 4,000,000 in 1976. If you filed for a patent this year it would have a number over 4,600,000.


Current prices are recorded from antique shows, sales, flea markets and auctions throughout the United States. The prices vary in different locations because of the conditions of the economy.

Monet bracelet, silver lattice weave links, 1940s, 2x6 inches, $20.

Doll, Toodles, rubber body, marked, 15 inches, $30.

Christmas ornament, angel, wax head, wings and body, Dresden, velvet dress, $50.

Cast-iron still bank, kitten, sitting, original white paint, blue ribbon and bow, 5 inches high, $75.

Teplitz vase, squat shape, double handle, girl pulling rooster's tail, 3 1/2 inches, $110.

Waterbury carriage clock, time & strike, dated 1891, $125.

Cranberry scoop, wooden, original paint and canvas, 1906, $170.

Atomic Robot Man, tin, key wind, Japan, 5 inches, $225.

Los Angeles Times Articles