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Chairs With All the Right Curves

ALSO: * 1860s dinnerware;* Painted coffee mill

September 05, 1998|RALPH KOVEL and TERRY KOVEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

It takes time to learn the names of the periods of furniture.

Study a Queen Anne chair. It has many curves: a curved back, a rounded seat front, a curved crest rail and curved stiles at the sides of the back. The legs curve gracefully from the knee to the foot.

Queen Anne chairs have been popular for 200 years, and many copies have been made. The chairs tend to be narrower than those from other periods, so they are often used at dining room tables.

Few people can afford a quality 1750 American Queen Anne chair, but many 1820s, 1880s and 1930s copies can be found.

Try to find chairs that are as much like the 18th century examples as possible. The curves should be graceful and in proportions that were used in the past. The back should be high but should not tip back very far. The feet should be well-formed, perhaps carved to look like animals' feet.

The more accurate the copy, the more likely the chair will retain its value.

When paying top dollar for a reproduction, be sure the construction is sturdy and that there have been no major repairs.

*

Question: My set of 50 dishes belonged to my great-grandmother, who was married in 1860. The dishes are white with a brown design picturing a waterfront scene with a sailing ship. The backs are marked with a ship and the words "American Marine, G.L.A. & Bro." Who made the dishes? Dealers have told me they have seen the dishes before in blue but not in brown.

*

Answer: Your dishes were made by George L. Ashworth & Bro. of Hanley, England, shortly after your great-grandmother was married.

Many dinnerware patterns made in England were decorated with American designs and exported to the United States. The American Marine pattern was made in brown, red or blue.

*

Q My mother owns a 40-inch-high coffee mill that was on a counter in her family's store in upstate New York. On the sides of the two iron wheels are the words "Swift Mill Lane Brothers, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., patented Feb. 1875." There's a painting of a covered wagon on the red-painted iron hopper. What is the coffee mill worth?

*

A In 1845, Beriah Swift of Millbrook, N.Y., patented a coffee mill and built a factory to make the mills. William and John Lane joined the business about 1880, and the company moved to Poughkeepsie. Lane Bros.--Swift Co. patented and manufactured several mills, including yours, between 1845 and 1920.

If the painting on your mill is in excellent condition, your mill is worth at least $1,500.

*

Q When my mother gave me her antique gold and turquoise cuff bracelet, she said that, according to legend, it had magical properties. Have you heard this?

*

A There are stories connected to many types of stones used for jewelry. In the Middle Ages it was said that a turquoise would change color if the owner was in danger. Asians wore turquoise to ward off "the evil eye." Other legends say turquoise will bring the wearer courage and success. It also has been claimed that the turquoise represents true affections and that the wearer will be a winner at love.

*

Q I have a silhouette signed by Beatrix Sherman. It pictures a full-length figure of a woman dressed in a 1910 style. Do you know anything about the artist?

*

A London-born Beatrix Sherman cut silhouettes at the Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco in 1915. She was a recognized miniaturist and artist and worked in the Chicago area. Her work was exhibited in several museums.

She cut silhouettes of many famous people, including President Wilson and Thomas Edison.

*

Q My sister has an old wooden jigsaw puzzle in its original plain box. A label inside the box says, "Pastime Puzzles, pat. Aug. 7, 1917, Parker Brothers Inc. Salem, Mass. and Flatiron Building, N.Y. The puzzle sawed by 27, Polished and finished by TE, 7-9-23, Subject games." There are more than 250 pieces. Some pieces are figural shapes such as a cat, bird, horse head and duck. Assembled, the puzzle is a color picture of a man and woman playing cards at a table. We would like to learn more.

*

A George S. Parker and his two brothers founded Parker Bros. in the 1880s. The company has been called "the Tiffany of the games business." It is best known for its board games, including Monopoly.

Parker Bros. was once famous for Pastime Puzzles too. They were adult jigsaw puzzles introduced in 1909 and made until the late 1950s. The puzzles were cut from reproductions of famous paintings or modern photographs mounted on plywood. Starting in 1910 the cuttings included figural pieces.

The employees' pride in their work led to the use of box labels that identified the people who worked on the puzzles.

You have assembled your puzzle, so you know it was harder to put together than it looks. The cuts follow the edges of a color or pattern, and some internal pieces have straight edges.

Your puzzle, with box, is worth $50 to $100.

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