Style and condition key to selling ‘Grand Rapids’ furniture

The yachtsman’s blazer from the film “Some Like it Hot” (est. $10,000-$15,000) and “The Great Race” trophy cup (est. $400-$600) are from the estate of Tony Curtis, to sell this month at Julien’s Auctions.
Image courtesy of www.juliensauctions.com
The yachtsman’s blazer from the film “Some Like it Hot” (est. $10,000-$15,000) and “The Great Race” trophy cup (est. $400-$600) are from the estate of Tony Curtis, to sell this month at Julien’s Auctions.
By Danielle Arnet, Tribune Media Services
Posted Sept. 10, 2011, at 11:43 a.m.

Q: A table marked Clark and Hodges Furniture Co. has been in our family for years. I Googled the company and learned that it operated in Grand Rapids from 1887 to 1889. Any info?

A: Smart collectors know that Grand Rapids has become a generic term for a type of furniture. In the heyday of its manufacture, factories in Grand Rapids, Mich., churned out more furniture than Bayer has aspirin.

There were many makers, and some lasted only as long — or less — than your table’s maker.

Several factors influenced the rise of furniture making there. First, there was demand from a growing middle class for more aspirational home furnishings. Proximity to hardwood forests and transportation were other influences.

As a type, Grand Rapids furniture was solid, mass-produced and designed to have broad appeal. It was not studio or cutting-edge in any way.

Today, a lot of it is called, generically, “brown furniture.” And it does not sell well. Not that there’s anything wrong with it; it’s just out of fashion. Given the cyclical manner of style, it may or may not come back.

Value, determined individually, depends on the style and condition of each piece and where it stands in today’s taste and demand. I suggest you key liveauctioneers.com and-or worthpoint.com (you’ll pay for this site) to look over sale results for similar Grand Rapids tables.

Q: I saw your column with mention of antique dolls. I have three old dolls and need someone to tell me what they’re worth. How do I find someone local?

A: If the column mentioned a specialist, you’re always welcome to contact them. We always provide contact info in the column when a specialist is involved.

If determined to stay local, check online and in the phone book for a doll hospital or dealer. A retailer of new dolls cannot help. Also ask friends and anyone you know who might know of a doll repairperson or seller. Local antiques dealers may be able to help, as well. (Offer to pay for their assistance. It’s only fair.)

Q: This Singer sewing machine was used by a family member in a 1930s garment factory. How can I find a good home for it?

A: The treadle machine in an image sent is a classic bare-bones unit of the type used by tailors and seamstresses. The machines were and still are workhorses of the industry.

Look on eBay to see postings for similar machines. When we checked, similar-looking models were listed but did not sell.

Your potential buyer for that machine is a serious sewer or someone looking for a simple workhorse. How about listing it online, for local pick-up only? Try eBay or Craigslist and start at a price you can live with.

Sewing machine collectors (yes, they exist) want antique machines that show significant technology. To them, “old” is very, very early.

Q: My war ration books were issued in 1943. Are they worth anything?

A: We get a lot of inquiries about the WWII stamp books. Wartime rationing meant that meat, tires, sugar, silk, shoes, gasoline, nylon and a raft of other items needed for the war effort were rationed — even farm equipment.

As each household had at least one book, there are obviously still a lot out there. When we checked, eBay had almost 200 listings. A set of four from 1943, filled with stamps, sold for $12.66.

Auction Action

When the estate of actor Tony Curtis sells this month at Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills, the yachtsman’s double-breasted wool blazer from the famous kissing scene with Marilyn Monroe in “Some Like it Hot” is expected to bring $10,000-$15,000. The Jack Lemmon trophy cup from “The Great Race” is estimated at $400-$600. To view the catalog and bid, key juliensauctions.com.

Collector Quiz

Q: What do “When the Lights Go on Again,” “Johnny Zero,” “Milkman, Keep Those Bottles Quiet,” and “We Did it Before,” have in common?

A: All were patriotic songs and sheet music (now collected) of the 1940s. Source: “Postwar Pop” by Donald-Brian Johnson and Leslie Pina (Schiffer, $49.99). Covers the many areas of ’40s collectibles, from paper ephemera to ceramics, vintage nativity sets and more.

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 smartcollector@comcast.net 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.

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/09/10/living/blogs-and-columns-living/style-and-condition-key-to-selling-grand-rapids-furniture/ printed on December 18, 2014