Q: I took this small rocker to a local shop to have cane work replaced, and people in the shop were very intrigued by it. Note “1695” on the bottom of the seat. The shop owner told us he thought the chair might be worth several thousand dollars.
I then took the chair to a local antiques dealer for an opinion, and he told us the chair wasn’t worth anything, not even recaned, unless it had sentimental value. Wow! How did it go from one extreme to the other? Any ideas?
A: I think what you have here is a simple case of human nature. The shop owner may know a lot about recaning, but chairs brought in with, perhaps, stunning dates stamped on the seat are not his thing.
I’m sure there was no intention to mislead. A nice guy wanted your business, he said good things about the piece, and in the process inflated value.
The antiques dealer knew his beans. Although his customer relations may need polishing, you did get your money’s worth from the estimate.
But few items are absolutely without value, even if it amounts to pennies. So your free assessment was only his opinion. And as it happens, it was off the money, as well.
How about another opinion, from antique furniture expert Leigh Keno? Fans of the PBS hit “Antiques Roadshow” will know him as one of the identical Keno twins, Leigh and Leslie. Both furniture appraisers renowned for their expertise concerning the rarest and finest early American furniture, each has appeared often on the show.
Today, Leigh owns and heads Keno Auctions at www.kenoauctions.com. Along with Leslie, he creates for a furniture line called Keno Bros. that features contemporary sculptural pieces. Their newest venture is “Buried Treasure,” a program that premieres on Wednesday, August 24 at 8 p.m. on Fox. In the wake of pickers and pawn shows, the brothers travel the country appraising treasures in people’s homes.
Looking over images sent, Leigh pronounced the small rocker as American Victorian, circa 1885. The wood appears to be maple. Mass produced, the chairs were and still are common.
The 1695 on the underside of the seat rail is, he added, no doubt a production or model number. Current value is about $100, retail.
Q: We inherited a Black Mammy cookie jar and are curious about its worth. She wears a yellow outfit and has a red pot holder. She’s ceramic or porcelain and has a small chip on the inner ring of the top. Markings on the bottom are a shell and Pearl China Co. 22 KT Gold U.S.A. Are we millionaires?
A: You’re not millionaires, but I think you’ll like this reply. About 10½ inches high, your Mammy jar is from the only set of cookie jars made by Pearl China. Mammy’s male partner is “Cooky,” a chef. And yes, ladies, the female figure is more collected than her counterpart. She’s worth $50-$75 more.
In “The Complete Cookie Jar Book: 5th Ed.” by Mike Schneider (Schiffer, $29.95), a set from www.jazzejunque.com shows Mammy at $500. Chicago shop owner Mercedes Bolduc tells us that prices for the jar have dropped considerably since the early 1990s, when the going rate was $900.
Still, this is a desirable jar. Sellers today can and do hold out for top dollar. Considering the economy, $400-$450 is possible for an absolutely mint version.
Warning: Pearl Mammy reproductions are everywhere; see them on eBay for about $100. Fairly good facsimiles, the new jars have hurt the market for originals.
About that chip on the lip: Definition of “chip” depends on who’s doing the talking. Bolduc appraises jars for $10 each. Contact her at the website for how to get it done.
Q: How do I find value for a collection of meerschaum pipes bought in Turkey in 1960? Also marble figures of classic statues bought in Greece?
A: When you don’t know exactly what you have, I suggest you start by looking at similar items for sale online. Search for pipes and statues like yours on eBay. Check completed sales there, as well.
Also check www.liveauctioneers.com for auction results, then Google the items by name. That should give you some idea of current values.
Yes, all that is work. Buying is easy: Selling can be tough.
Even in this economic climate, extremely rare and fine watches remain better than money in the bank. As example, a one-owner circa 1958 Patek Philippe astronomic and water-resistant 18K yellow gold wristwatch with center seconds, perpetual calendar and moon phases, original box and archive papers, sold for $380,006 in a recent Antiquorum Hong Kong auction.
Q: Can you rank these Barbie accessories by their prices today?
a. Silver monogram “B” teapot with lid
b. Pink taffeta purse
c. Royal blue textured belt
d. Brown riding crop
e. Black riding crop
A: From most to least expensive today, they are c, d, e, a, b. Source: “It’s All About the Accessories for the World’s Most Fashionable Dolls 1959-1972″ by Hillary James (Schiffer, $49.99). Almost 2,000 images plus prices of accessories.
Danielle Arnet welcomes questions from readers. She cannot respond to each one individually, but will answer those of general interest in her column. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or write Danielle Arnet, c/o Tribune Media Services, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1400, Chicago, IL 60611. Please include an address in your query. Photos cannot be returned.