Large, ornate Victorian furniture is selling for low prices at auctions for many reasons.
Houses are smaller, and bedrooms have more windows and closets, so there are fewer plain walls for large beds or dressers. Sometimes a headboard is too tall for a modern room with an 8-foot ceiling, and the bedroom sets have too many pieces.
Plus, the elaborate carvings are out of style, and the furniture is very heavy and hard to move.
A few furniture makers, such as John Henry Belter and Alexander Roux, are so important that their work is treated as art. Of the rest, bargains exist for well-made, stylish Victorian pieces manufactured away from the East Coast.
For example, the H.B. Mudge Furniture Co. of Cincinnati, founded in 1837, designed and made a Victorian suite consisting of a washstand with mirror, commode, dresser and a bed with a high, carved headboard and footboard. The set was handed down in the Mudge family and auctioned by Cowan Auctions of Cincinnati for $5,400 (including a buyer’s premium).
Q: I just bought a handcrafted silver ring with a multicolored flat ”stone” with a tag that reads ”sterling silver with an authentic piece of Fordite.” But no one here knows what Fordite is. Can you help?
A: We first learned about Fordite over 20 years ago. Many car manufacturers were closing their plants. Someone noticed that the floor where they had been painting the cars was covered with a thick layers of hard automobile paint. Since cars were made in many different colors, the floor had swirling patterns in the hardened material. Rock hounds and other collectors ”mined” the material, sometimes with permission and sometimes when the plants were about to be torn down. Small pieces of this mined material are still available, and they usually are made into jewelry. We have seen pendants and rings made with Fordite set in gold that sell for more than $1,000.
Q: I have about 100 old baseball coins from the early 1960s. Most of them are plastic and some are metal. They came in Junket Brand products like Salada Tea. I have coins with Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Don Drysdale, Roberto Clemente, Early Wynn, etc. I also have about 20 football coins. Can you provide any information?
A: Salada Tea and Junket were both part of Salada Foods, Inc. (now part of Redco Foods). Individual coins showing baseball and football stars were packed in Salada Tea and Junket products in 1962. The 1962 baseball set included 1 1/2-inch-diameter plastic ”coins” with a piece of paper picturing a player on one side. The complete set included 221 players, plus 40 variations. The 1963 baseball set, called ”All Star Baseball Coins,” included 63 metal coins with paper inserts. The top 10 stars of each team were pictured. Coins for American League players had blue rims, and coins for National League players had red rims. Information about the player is on the reverse side. Holders and a box were issued to hold the coins. You have coins from both the 1962 and 1963 baseball sets. Many coins sell for less than $5, but superstars’ coins sell for much more. Recent prices include $45 for a 1962 Yogi Berra coin and $90 for a 1962 Roger Clemente coin. A complete set of 1962 coins, plus 1963 coins for Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, sold at auction for over $1,800.
Prices recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States.
• WWII photograph, V-J Day parade, soldiers in car with American and ”Don’t Tread On Me” flags, black and white, 1945, 3 x 4 inches, $10
• Advertising display rack, Tom’s Peanuts, metal open crisscross design, 2 shelves, red and silver, 1950s, 14 x 9 inches, $165
• Brass inkwell, the Mayflower, tall ship, textured square base with removable ink pot, 1920s, 5 x 5 inches, $280
• Wedgwood platter, Peace pattern with dove and olive branch, flaming torch and quiver of feathers, garland border, c. 1880, 17 x 14 inches, $495
• Apple peeler-corer, cast iron, hand crank and gears, table mountable, marked Rival No. 2, Pat. date June 25, 1889, 15 x 27 inches, $600
• Punch bowl, pink and purple grapes with gold trim, teal enamel pedestal foot, Tressemann & Vogt, France, c. 1900, 7 x 16 inches, $975
Terry and Kim Kovel, authorities on collectibles, write for King Features Syndicate. Visit www.kovels.com.