Kovels: The Windsor Chair

There was an old note found taped to the bottom of this birdcage rocker when it was put up for sale at a James Julia auction. It traced the chair back to a Massachusetts woman who was hung as a witch.

The Windsor chair was introduced in England in the late 17th century, and it was about 50 years later, around 1730, that the first American Windsor chairs were made in Philadelphia. The American makers created different styles of Windsors. They all had a shaped wooden seat made of a single thick piece of wood, spindles used for a back and perhaps arms. There were splayed legs that were inserted into holes in the seat. The Windsor gradually changed into a captain’s chair with no spindles and a low back. Windsors were made of several types of wood chosen for properties like strength for the legs, pliability for the top of the back, and easy carveability for the seat. Then they were painted a single dark color. If there is a hole in the seat, the chair probably was converted to a potty chair. Rocking chairs can be early chairs with added rockers or 18th century chairs made with original rockers. You can tell by the way they are attached.

There are tips to telling the age and origin of an authentic chair. An English chair will have a splat in the back and may use cabriole legs. It has a lower back than an American chair. Older American chair seats are about 18 inches from the floor; later ones are lower, about 16 to 17 inches. The number of spindles in the back is a good gauge of age: The more there are, the older the chair. Nine spindles is a very old chair. The chairs are named for the shape of the back. This is a birdcage Windsor with rockers that may have been added. It was made in the early 19th century in Massachusetts. The auction estimate at a James Julia sale was $500 to $700.

Q: I have a large stoneware bowl with a mark on the bottom. It’s marked “Serving piece, Not to be used for high temperature cooking” and “Louisville Stoneware, made in Kentucky.” Can you tell me something about the maker and age of this piece?

A: Louisville Stoneware is one of the oldest stoneware manufacturers in the U.S. It started out as Lewis Pottery, founded in 1815 by Jacob Lewis in Louisville, Kentucky. The name and ownership changed several times over the years. It became Louisville Stoneware in 1970. The company is still in business, now a subsidiary of Two Stone, Inc. Stoneware is still being made and is sold in a few stores in Kentucky and nearby states, and also sold by online sellers. The wording of the mark on your bowl suggests it was made about 2000.

Q: I have a small glass dog that must have held something. The entire top of the dog is missing, leaving a small creamer-size piece. Was there a matching sugar bowl? How old is it? What is it worth?

A: You probably have a creamer made in 1935 and 1936 as a premium for a breakfast cereal. “Buy two packages of Grape Nuts Flakes cereal for 19 cents and get the pitcher free!” Recently a newspaper advertisement for the Scottie dog creamer was found by a glass collector who reported it to “All About Glass,” the publication of the West Virginia Museum of American Glass. The glass was made by the L.E. Smith Glass Company, a Pennsylvania company started in 1907. The creamer comes in different versions, some with the numbers from 1 to 37 on the bottom, and some in amber or green glass.

Q: I have an antique hand mirror made by the Unger Brothers. It is set in silver. The back is decorated with raised cupids in a water scene, but there are engraved initials of a previous owner that have been added. Do the initials lower the value?

A: Your American dresser mirror from the early 1900s is worth more than $100. Added initials on silver do not seem to change the value. It might be fun to explain that the mirror belonged to a distant relative.

Q: I collect hair jewelry made in memory of relatives or important people like kings after they die. Was the hair taken from the dead person and braided to form the jewelry? Could you buy hair to make the big hair flower wreaths, or did you just buy a ready-made one?

A: Your questions will sound impolite to some, but remember that burials were usually at home, funerals were held within a few days unless the deceased was very important, and mourning among the rich required black dresses and jewelry for women and often daily church services for a year. Memorial gifts for relatives were given soon after the funeral. By Victorian times, a lock of the deceased’s hair was snipped for a locket, ring, pendant or pin, and braided hair jewelry became popular and sometimes homemade. Magazines like “Godey’s Ladies Book” printed instructions. Hair wreaths were made with stranger’s hair or family hair that was provided for the braided flowers. Commercial jewelry could be a necklace or even a man’s watch chain of braided hair. More expensive jewelry used locks or braids in black and white settings of jet, gutta-percha, black onyx, bog oak, iron or black enamel with gold trim and diamonds or pearls

Tip: Going away for the weekend? If you have a car at home, park it in the driveway and lock it. It makes it look as if someone is home, and it blocks easy access to a back door.

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, (Name of this newspaper), King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803.

CURRENT PRICES

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.

R.S. Prussia, cake plate, violets, white center, two-tone pink border, gold highlights, 10 1/2 inches, $60.

Glass vase, sapphire blue, white blossom, amber leave, rim, Stevens & Williams style, 5 1/2 x 10 inches, $150.

Royal Bonn urn, covered, white, colorful rose garland, ribbons, gold highlights, two handle, 9 1/2 inches, $210.

Royal Doulton sculpture, dragon, climbing tree, overhanging bowl, gold trim, flowers, 1886, 10 1/2 x 12 inches, $895.

Silver plate planter, young maiden, long flowing hair, smelling flower, repousse flowers, Art Nouveau, 7 1/8 x 3 3/4 inches, $960.

Porcelain centerpiece, gilt bronze, putto, shell horn, Neptune head, flowers, hand painted, 1900, 10 x 4 1/2 x 14 3/4 inches, $1,000.

Durand lampshade, pyramid shape, pearlescent white, blue, green snakeskin pattern, wavy rim, 8 3/4 x 8 x 7 3/4 inches, $1,030.

Apothecary cabinet, 25 drawers, porcelain knobs, poplar, bracket feet, 1900s, 36 x 68 x 15 inches, $1,080.

A. Walter tray, shield shape, blue to pale yellow, moth, blue and green spread wings, brown spots, signed, 4 x 3 1/2 inches, $1,215.

Wedgwood bowl, Fairyland luster, elves sitting on branch, insect encircling the rim, signed, 6 x 1 1/2 inches, $1,355.

The new Kovels’ Antiques & Collectibles 2019 Price Guide is here. The only Antiques’ Price Guide that empowers collectors with the most up-to-date price information based on actual sales and market data. Featuring an easy-to-read format with tips, marks and logos, the 2019 Price Guide includes 16,000 prices and more than 2,500 beautiful photographs. Plus, for the first time — 300 factory marks to identify your antiques, a special section on What’s Hot and What’s Not in the antiques and collectibles market and record prices for the year. Order today from Kovels.com and get a FREE Fakes Booklet. $29.99 plus $4.95 postage and handling. Or order by phone at 800-303-1996; or write to Kovels, P.O. Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122.

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