Payday Loans
payday loans
ADVERTISEMENTS
Banner
Banner

Get Free ACN Daily Headlines

LiveAuctioneers

Search Auction Central News

ADVERTISEMENTS
Banner
Banner
Bookmark and Share

Furniture Specific: Parts and pieces

PDF Print E-mail
Written by FRED TAYLOR   
Monday, 02 February 2015 17:32
This turn-of-the-century oak dining chair has had the tall back removed. CRYSTAL RIVER, Fla. – Sometimes you and I both run across a piece of furniture that has us stumped. I get a lot of mail from readers who send me photos of their furniture and ask me what the piece is, where it came from, who made it, what’s it made of, what’s it worth and other little details like that. Since I’m fortunate enough to devote a large amount of my time to research on the subject of older and antique furniture, I generally have an idea what a piece of furniture is called, how it is or was used and the general period from which it originated. Then with a few basic parameters established I am able to delve into further research on the details.

But sometimes I have to do a double take. On occasion it completely baffles me about what a piece may actually be, especially when my perception of it may be clouded by the misconception of the sender. While a kiss is always just a kiss, a chair is not always what it seems to be and cabinets are often well disguised.

Here are a few Trojan horses that have appeared in my mailbox recently. It must be the weather.

Fred – I would like to ask a question about a piece of furniture I have. I think it is an older file cabinet/dresser of some type? I was wondering if you had any info you could share on it. Price? Date? Maker? I am attaching a few pictures of the cabinet. Thanks a million, Josh H.”

The “file cabinet” is pretty much that. But it’s not quite that simple. What the reader had was actually a single pedestal from a double pedestal commercial desk that has been cut off. You can see the circular saw marks on the edge of the top. The rail on the side of the cabinet was the drawer guide for the center drawer in the original desk.

It was originally a part of a walnut desk made in the 1940s or so. It looks like this pedestal has three complete drawers. That means that the other missing pedestal probably had a file drawer that took up the last two drawer fronts. The pull-out section under the top is called a “dictation slide.” It was used by the secretary to support her note pad while she took shorthand notes from the executive behind the desk. Since it is only a part of a complete piece it has no formal value.

Here’s another …

“I would appreciate any information you can give me on a cabinet we purchased.

We have not changed anything but use it as a storage place for glasses, etc. Thanks. Sharon L.”

It appears that the reader has the shell of the king of desks, the Wooton (often misspelled as Wooten). It came in four ascending grades of quality and ornamentation, Ordinary, Standard, Extra and Superior. This one used to be the simplest, an Ordinary. William S. Wooton, the founder of Wooton Desk Co., made his patent desks in Indianapolis between 1874 and 1893 most often in the Renaissance Revival style. Complete intact examples of Wooton desks in good condition sell for several thousand dollars at auction. However, this one has been severely altered. The original cast bronze hinges have been replaced with piano hinges and all of the interior shelving and cubbyholes have been removed but the drop down writing surface is still in place. For some views of original Wootons just do a Google search on “Wooton desk.” There is a great deal of information about Wooton desks both online and in many books. One of the best in print is Styles of American Furniture 1860 - 1960 by Eileen and Richard Dubrow, published by Schiffer.

While it does make a terrific storage cabinet and the conversion may have saved the cabinet from total destruction or abandonment, the shell of the desk has no value as a Wooton desk in its current condition. As a storage cabinet it was worth whatever the reader paid for it.

Next …

“I recently was given a bedroom suite from Keystone Furniture of Williamsport, Pa. The only info I have been able to find in regard to age or value is that Keystone was founded just after the Civil War but I have found nothing specific about this set. The entire set includes headboard, footboard, two nightstands, armoire, dresser and mirror and a vanity chair. Thanks for any help and insight you may be able to provide about age and value of the set.

The form of the bed suggests an Art Deco period origin, late 1920s to mid 1930s but overall the set has traditional Colonial Revival styling from the Depression era. It is made of cherry veneer with gum as the structural secondary wood in the frame of the cabinets. At first I was confused that there was a vanity chair but there was no picture or mention of a vanity. Then I realized that the two bedside tables are the two pedestals of the vanity that have been cut apart. The original vanity was a three-mirror vanity with a tall mirror in the center and moveable batwing mirrors on the sides. The splashboards on the tables are another clue. They are shaped on one end but not on the other. The photos didn’t show the details but I suspect that if the “bedside tables” were studied closely enough I would be able to detect where the center panel joined them. The addition of the matching armoire is a very good plus for the set but the missing vanity would detract from the sale value.

And finally…

“I have two Stomps Burkhardt chairs but cannot find any information on them. They are slipper-type oak chairs with no backs. They have lions carved on the front legs. Can you tell me anything about them or their value. One looks like the veneer or wood is stripped off the seat. Would it pay to have it restored? I have attached a photo. Thank you, Diane.”

Stomps Burkhardt was formed in Dayton, Ohio, in 1890 when Gustave Stomps, a Prussian immigrant chair maker teamed up with one of his employees, Richard Burkhardt, a German cabinetmaker. Stomps died later that year and Burkhardt continued the business until his death early in the 20th century.

The chairs were probably made just before the turn of the century during the Golden Oak era of American furniture. Lions, winged griffins and other creatures were favorite elements of the period. The chairs originally were high-back dining chairs made of white oak. The bar across the back of the one pictured was placed there after the tall back was removed. You can tell it is a later addition because the bar is made of flat cut red oak rather than the quartercut white oak of the frame and legs. Quartercutting is a way of cutting the oak wood that produces the striking grain pattern in the chair. The seats are "molded" which means they are made of oak veneer plywood, a common use of that period. Since the chairs have already been significantly altered the only reason to reveneer the one seat is for looks.

Perhaps in some cases instead of “What is it?” the question should be “What WAS it?”

 

Send comments, questions and pictures to Fred Taylor at P.O. Box 215, Crystal River, FL 34423 or email them to him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Visit Fred's newly redesigned website at www.furnituredetective.com and check out the new downloadable "Common Sense Antiques" columns in .pdf format. His book How To Be a Furniture Detective is available for $18.95 plus $3 shipping. Send check or money order for $21.95 to Fred Taylor, P.O. Box 215, Crystal River, FL, 34423.

Fred and Gail Taylor's DVD, Identification of Older & Antique Furniture ($17 + $3 S&H) is also available at the same address. For more information call 800-387-6377 (9 a.m.-4 p.m. Eastern, M-F only), fax 352-563-2916, or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . All items are also available directly from his website.



ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE
This turn-of-the-century oak dining chair has had the tall back removed. The shell of a 19th century Wooton desk is being used for glass storage. This 'cabinet' was once the left pedestal of a double pedestal desk. The rail at the top of the pedestal supported the center drawer of the original desk. These 'bedside tables' are the pedestals from a Depression-era three-mirror vanity.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 February 2015 09:14
 

Furniture Specific: More than a marriage

PDF Print E-mail
Written by FRED TAYLOR   
Monday, 05 January 2015 17:18

At first glance this looks like a nice Queen Anne cabinet.

CRYSTAL RIVER, FLA. – A marriage can be a really good idea in some cases. With furniture, just as with people, sometimes the union of two unattached units can combine to create a new useful entity. In furniture the union can often be accomplished so seamlessly that it requires some real detective work to ferret out the existence of two or more separate units.

Such was the case with what at first glance appeared to be an 18th century Queen Anne bonnet-top chest on chest. The legs were OK, the hardware was good but probably not original. The fan carvings piqued my interest with slightly different radii and depth patterns but that was not enough to make me truly suspicious, merely alert.

 

Everything was fine until the drawers were opened. Then the cat was out of the bag. The drawer joinery in the top section was obviously done by a different hand from the one that did the bottom joinery. And the secondary woods appeared vastly different from oxidation. It was a case of the “the more you looked, the more you saw.”

 

The drawer joinery did not look consistent from top to bottom.

A closer look at the sides of the two sections revealed significantly different cuts of mahogany. Then top section had plum pudding and fiddle back side panels. The bottom section was fairly flat cut. It was an odd-looking combination in retrospect.

 

The side panels were two entirely different cuts of mahogany.

The back panels pretty well closed the deal. They were obviously from different pieces. Even the nailing pattern was different.

 

The back panels showed huge differences in oxidation and color.

Even so, the overall appearance of the piece was acceptable and most folks would have just said “What a nice cabinet.” It was case of a marriage gone good.

 

I recently read a story about “Ikea hacking” where people acquired inexpensive pieces at Ikea and used bits and pieces to create a completely new piece (http://ikeahackers.net). Interesting idea of what to do with Ikea stuff, but then I ran across an even more extreme application of the process.

My best friend Gail and I had the opportunity to spend some time in a large antique mall. Unfortunately I can’t just cruise a mall or a shop. I quickly fall into work mode and examine most pieces with a critical and skeptical eye. I strolled through one room that had an unusual looking piece. It looked almost like a late 19th century baker’s table but it didn’t have the possum belly drawer bottoms. It had a flat top with a splashboard above two short drawers over one long drawer, all supported on four turned legs. It was tagged as a “three-drawer burled walnut worktable, late 19th century” but at 29½ inches high that didn’t pass the smell test – the test where you don’t know exactly what is wrong but it just doesn’t smell right.

 

This kitchen work table just didn’t pass the smell test.

I am fan of Empire and Late Classicism furniture so the drawers immediately attracted my attention. They appeared to have crotch-cut mahogany veneer on them, not “burled” walnut, Empire style, with round wooden knobs – which turned out to be fake plastic knobs. Once again the drawers told the story. The drawers had handmade dovetail joinery front and back. The sides and single board drawer bottoms were hand planed poplar. The bottoms were attached in the back only with square headed mid 19th century cut nails and the fronts fit snugly into the mortise in the back of the drawer front. No doubt about it. These drawers came from a mid-century chest.

 

The drawer joinery in the worktable was handmade dovetails.

 

Drawer bottom.jpg – The drawer bottom was a single-board hand-planed piece of poplar.

A look at the sides revealed more crotch mahogany veneer that may have been grained and the back was a single panel of poplar. This was the top 12 inches or so, rails, stiles, sides and back of a mid-century chest.

 

The side of the worktable could have been crotch cut mahogany veneer or it could have been grained. It was too muddy to tell.

 

 The back also was a single-board, hand-planed piece of poplar.

 

The top turned out to be a single board from a walnut table. The splashboard was made from the same stock, perhaps a leaf or another top section that had been sacrificed. It was crudely done at best.

So now I have identified the parts from at least two incomplete pieces but it still had legs that didn’t come from a walnut table and certainly didn’t come from the chest. I couldn’t tell exactly where they came from, perhaps an étagère or other tall cabinet. They were made of nondescript secondary wood, factory turned and obviously chopped from a previously longer length. That’s parts of three pieces. Then there was the ogee-shape transition panel above the drawers below the top. It looked like it had mahogany veneer on the sides but in the front it was made of quartersawn white oak. Was this part of the original chest or was this part of yet another dislocated piece?

This was worse than any possible marriage. It was way out of bounds. It was beyond a simple marriage, it was past even a ménage a trois. This had to be a ménage a quarto or better if there is such a thing. This could totter on the edge of polygamy or even an orgy.

What it obviously wasn’t was an antique kitchen worktable. It was, in plain terms, a cobble. It was simply created as a one-of-a-kind piece out of stray parts. That’s worse than Ikea hacking! Or was it? Was the Empire chest headed for the dump or the burn pile? Maybe the walnut table was going to be scrapped for stock in a shop. Perhaps the legs had been destined for firewood. In any event at least parts of at least three older pieces of furniture have survived today as a result of someone’s ingenuity. Is it a priceless antique? Heck no. Could it, or at least its pieces, tell some stories? You bet.

Send comments, questions and pictures to Fred Taylor at P.O. Box 215, Crystal River, FL 34423 or email them to him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Visit Fred's newly redesigned website at www.furnituredetective.com and check out the new downloadable "Common Sense Antiques" columns in .pdf format. His book How To Be a Furniture Detective is available for $18.95 plus $3 shipping. Send check or money order for $21.95 to Fred Taylor, P.O. Box 215, Crystal River, FL, 34423.

Fred and Gail Taylor's DVD, Identification of Older & Antique Furniture ($17 + $3 S&H) is also available at the same address. For more information call 800-387-6377 (9 a.m.-4 p.m. Eastern, M-F only), fax 352-563-2916, or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . All items are also available directly from his website.

 

Last Updated on Monday, 02 February 2015 17:32
 

Furniture Specific: The second question

PDF Print E-mail
Written by FRED TAYLOR   
Monday, 08 December 2014 15:16

The finish on this Federal period drawer is original and untouched. Is it attractive?

CRYSTAL RIVER, Fla. – The second most frequently asked question in the antique furniture trade, after “What’s it worth?” has to be “Won’t I destroy the value by refinishing it?”

The answer to that is an unequivocal “maybe, maybe not.” This might be at odds with what you have probably heard from many of the self-styled experts found lurking on Internet bulletin boards and on local radio call-in shows whose mantra sometime appears to be “Don’t touch that original finish!” Even some of the nationally recognized genuine experts on the subject occasionally answer in the affirmative, but the answer to the second question depends a great deal on the answer to the first question. And the answer to the first question requires accurate identification and attribution of the piece at hand. You have to know what the piece is before you can answer either of the dollar sign questions.

If you are in doubt about the pedigree of a piece, ask someone who knows. Don’t ask your brother-in-law, who knows everything. Ask someone who really knows – someone who is in the trade or who has the credentials to make an accurate assessment. In some cases it may even be worth your while to get it professionally appraised. But however you do it, make sure you know what it is before making any further decisions. Once you are comfortable with the result, proceed with your debate about the finish.

The difference in value between a $2.5 million 18th century mahogany game table in pristine original condition and the identical table that was refinished 20 years ago is more than many of us will see in a lifetime. But the difference in value between a set of late Victorian chairs in original black crackle shellac with rotting upholstery and the same set that has been professionally refinished, repaired and upholstered could be far enough in the other direction to warrant your attention. An even easier case is the Depression-era dining set acquired at auction for $300 that has a scratched top, a broken pedestal and mismatched chairs. Anything done to it will improve its value.

So what makes an original finish so desirable and valuable? That largely depends on the original finish, what it is and when it was applied.

It has only been in the last few thousand years that we have applied some sort of dressing to our wooden artifacts. Before then wood just rotted away in its own timing. But wood lasts longer with some sort of protection from its mortal enemy – moisture. Preserving the wood was the primary motivation for applying oil or fat or grease to wood in the first place. An improved, pleasing appearance was a secondary, unintended consequence that later became an important part of the finishing matrix. When people began to live inside fixed structures rather than outside in tents, appearance of the wood achieved higher status. Grain patterns were enhanced and colors deepened and became richer as finishing techniques improved from smeared fat to multiple coats of rubbed linseed oil or wax.

Surface coatings such as varnish, shellac and lacquer are all ancient developments but are relatively recent additions to furniture finishing. Varnish, made of cedar oil and amber, which produced a resin, was used by ancient Egyptians in the mummification process. The Romans used a type of varnish made of natural resin dissolved in vegetable oil but the art appears to have been lost by medieval craftsmen, resurfacing only in the 19th century with the advent of the petroleum industry. According to The Encyclopedia of Furniture by Joseph Aronson, no reliable records indicate the production of modern varnish prior to 1848. Currently most modern varnish is made of linseed oil and phenolic resins, which were introduced in 1909.

Shellac is derived from an excretion of the Laccifer lacca insect, native to Thailand and India. Produced first for the effect of its dye, the use of shellac can be traced to A.D. 250. However, its use as a furniture finish did not catch on in the West until the early 1800s according to the Shellac Export Promotion Council. However, a type of “spirit varnish,” a gum dissolved in alcohol. which greatly resembled shellac, was used as early as the 17th century in Europe for “padding” finishes, according to Aronson. Shellac was the principal furniture finish until the early 20th century when nitrocellulose lacquer was introduced.

Modern lacquer has no relation to the ancient Chinese art of lacquering. The original form of lacquer was derived from the lacquer tree of the Orient and was applied in numerous thin coats to wood and other objects. Nitrocellulose lacquer is made cellulose fiber, principally cotton, dissolved in butyl acetate.

So there is nothing ancient or mysterious about most old finishes. In fact the chemistry behind even the oldest of Western finishes is fairly recent. The value of an old finish lies in its undisturbed link to the past and the appearance it has attained over its lifetime. But while many 300-year-old, carefully preserved finishes are outstandingly beautiful, those less well preserved and cared for are much, much less pleasing. And in a significantly shorter period than 300 years some finishes get to be absolutely disgusting, or at least much less attractive. Should they be preserved simply because they are original?

As a general rule a less than attractive finish on an item will result in a lower value than a comparable item with a pleasing finish. The exception to this very general rule is the certifiable treasure, the piece of antiquity whose value is derived from its rarity and its very existence rather than its role as functional art, the duty normally ascribed to pieces of furniture. The truth is there just aren’t that many treasures made by our recognized master cabinetmakers from which to choose. Most of these craftsmen were a one-man band or at the very best had a few apprentices. Their output was not that great. Even in the early 19th century with the advent of factories and very large shops in multistory buildings, output was nothing like the late 19th century or the 20th century. So these items are indeed rare and deserve all the preservation we can afford them.

But the same attention is not necessarily lavished on mass-production items, even if they are a hundred years old – or more. Most items produced after the Civil War were made on a production line in a factory setting and there just isn’t that cachet of personal craftsmanship and direct connection to the distant past that we attach to older, rarer pieces. Of course there are the exceptions including some of the works of Gustav Stickley and Louis Majorelle but these are rare.

The whole subject boils down to the condition of the existing finish on the piece in question after we are sure it is not a national treasure. Several issues must then be dealt with.

Is the existing finish doing its original job? Remember that the first function of a finish is to protect the wood from moisture. If the finish is not intact enough to provide that protection then it must be augmented by conservation techniques, which may include additional finish or be replaced with another finish. This is required for the long-term preservation of the piece. If the finish is intact and is protecting the wood from the world, then all other questions become those of aesthetics and economics.

Will the piece look better if the finish is adjusted in some radical manner like resurfacing or refinishing? That is entirely up to the owner of piece. If they find the old, crackled shellac or varnish attractive, so be it. If not there, are the other options.

And at long last the real question. Will refinishing destroy the value of the piece? Assuming that all precautions have been observed and all the facts have been correctly assembled and duly noted and further assuming that the refinishing or resurfacing will be done in a competent professional manner, the answer is a resounding “probably not.” In fact the value will most likely be enhanced. A beautiful, honestly restored, fully functioning piece of furniture will always be more attractive, more desirable and more valuable than its run-down, grubby-looking cousin except in rare circumstances.

 

Send comments, questions and pictures to Fred Taylor at P.O. Box 215, Crystal River, FL 34423 or email them to him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Visit Fred's newly redesigned website at www.furnituredetective.com and check out the new downloadable "Common Sense Antiques" columns in .pdf format. His book How To Be a Furniture Detective is available for $18.95 plus $3 shipping. Send check or money order for $21.95 to Fred Taylor, P.O. Box 215, Crystal River, FL, 34423.

Fred and Gail Taylor's DVD, Identification of Older & Antique Furniture ($17 + $3 S&H) is also available at the same address. For more information call 800-387-6377 (9 a.m.-4 p.m. Eastern, M-F only), fax 352-563-2916, or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . All items are also available directly from his website.



ADDITIONAL IMAGES OF NOTE

The finish on this Federal period drawer is original and untouched. Is it attractive?

The finish on this Empire sideboard is almost the same age as that on the Federal drawer and is original but it has been 'polished.' Is it more attractive than the drawer?

Last Updated on Monday, 05 January 2015 17:18
 

Furniture Specific: The first question

PDF Print E-mail
Written by FRED TAYLOR   
Wednesday, 05 November 2014 17:11
A West Indies carved mahogany and caned rocking chair, 19th century. Reference: Conners, Michael. 'Caribbean Elegance,' 2002. p. 46, fig. 34. A pair of these rockers sold at auction in New Orleans last year for $4,305. Image courtesy of Neal Auction Co.

CRYSTAL RIVER, Fla. – In the past I wrote a column concerning the second most frequently asked question about older and antique furniture. That question has to do with retaining, enhancing or destroying the value of a piece if it is repaired, refinished etc. The column conveniently sidestepped the first question, the one that everyone REALLY wants to know: What’s it worth?

Sometimes it seems a shame that in most cases today the overriding emphasis placed on an antique is the market value. Too often antiques are regarded as just trade goods. There was a time when antiques were prized for their historical value – their link to the past and what that past stood for. This was the underlying motivation for the Colonial Revival – at least in the beginning. Antiques also have been highly prized for their workmanship or artistry – you know the old saw “A thing of beauty is ….”

But, alas, in today’s environment when someone inherits great-great-grandma’s chair, more often than not the first thing they do is write to someone like me to ask what it’s worth. Not how it was made or what it was made from. Not how to care for it or how to use it. Not how to research its history or appreciate its heritage. Just “How many dollars is it worth and what do I do to get the best price for it?” Whatever.

While idle curiosity or simple greed seems to motivate most inquiries about value there are more legitimate and justifiable reasons for needing to determine the value of an antique. Those reasons frequently have to do with acquiring and maintaining proper levels of insurance, establishing a value for claims purposes or for use in tax preparation or defense.

So how do you find out what something is worth? The ultimate answer appears only after you sell it and the check clears the bank. THAT is what that piece was worth on THAT day, in THAT place to THAT buyer. Anything else is just guesswork. Granted some guesses will be better than others but until the actual sale they are still just guesses.

There are people who represent themselves as professional guessers. They are called appraisers and most have some degree of knowledge greater than the average bear about given subjects and have a pool of resources from which to gather facts to support their guesses.

One place to find appraisers is on the vicarious television shows that offer on-the-spot price information. Granted these appraisers often have a lifetime of experience and do have reference material at their beckoning. However, they often tend to quote prices based on the part of the country or the market with which they are most familiar and that may not always play well in Poughkeepsie. What a chair sells for in New York or Boston may be a far cry from what it brings at auction in LA (Lower Alabama). So celebrity or event appraisals should be taken with a grain of salt and enjoyed for the entertainment value they provide.

When you get serious about wanting to know what something is worth you must then decide what kind of appraisal you need. “What’s it worth?” is not enough for a good appraiser to go on. They need to know for what purpose the appraisal will be used. There are two basic types of appraisals, the “fair market value,” also known as a “selling” appraisal and a “replacement value” appraisal.

A fair market value appraisal is the amount you would expect to realize from the sale of an item to a reputable dealer in the field or what you could reasonably expect to receive, before seller costs and premiums, through an auction service that deals in that particular type of item. For example, you wouldn’t expect to do well selling 20th century art pottery at a service that specializes in Federal furniture. The market is more specific than that. This fair market value approach is the one used by the IRS in assigning value to items donated to charitable causes and is often used in establishing the value of an estate. This is essentially a “wholesale” appraisal. Unless specifically otherwise noted, most insurance companies will also use this type of valuation method in settling claims.

The “otherwise noted” reference is to the other kind of appraisal known as the replacement value method. A value assigned by this type of appraisal is what you would expect to pay for the item if you purchased it on a retail basis from a dealer or gallery in an arm’s length transaction. This is also the amount for which you would insure a specific piece, the replacement cost.

The most important thing to know about these two kinds of appraisals is the fact that they will produce markedly different values for the same item at the same time in the same place. A fair market value appraisal value will generally be 40 to 60 percent below a replacement cost value. When you read that a major dealer has purchased a period American antique at Sotheby’s for $1million, you may rest assured that when you visit their showroom in New York or Philadelphia, the current retail price will greatly exceed the auction price (wholesale). Fair market is what they paid at auction. Replacement is what you will pay them for it (retail).

So how do you obtain an appraisal, either fair market or replacement? As it turns out, appraisals are like so many other things – you get what you pay for.

You can get a free or nominal cost verbal “appraisal” at many antiques shows or fairs. They are generally worth what they cost if you are just curious. You can also visit a dealer and ask what the item is worth. But there may be a conflict here because the dealer may want to buy your piece and pay less than fair market value for it. Not always but it does happen.

There is a new electronic version of the appraisal being done on the Internet. Many of these sites are legitimate and will in fact give you a fairly decent “educated guess” of the market value of your property for a reasonable fee, $10 to $50 generally. But be aware that each individual appraiser for these services is limited by your description of the article and by your skill or lack thereof as a photographer. They will never be able to physically see or touch your item. While many of the online appraisers are certified by one or more of the major associations, their cut of the already fairly low fee is so small that they probably can’t devote too much time to researching your particular item and to writing a comprehensive valuation. Like the verbal version, this type of valuation is more for curiosity’s sake than for legal or insurance purposes.

There are several main accrediting bodies for personal property appraisers in the U.S. including the Appraisers Association of America, the International Society of Appraisers, American Society of Appraisers and National Appraisal Consultants. Each has a website and a searchable database of certified members listed by area of specialization. These people are prepared to work for you in person with no other agenda and will often provide a written statement that they are a disinterested third party.

But be prepared to pay for their research. A thorough written appraisal of personal property will contain such items as the type of valuation method used, identification of the market for which the item is valued, a general market analysis of similar items or categories with possible projections of the direction of that market, an accurate physical description of the object including measurements and photos where applicable, sales results of similar items in that market, provenance if available and a firm statement of value based on the research. There are other items that may be included for your particular need based on what you and the appraiser agree upon.

In short, what you get from a licensed, accredited, knowledgeable appraiser is their best professional estimate of the value of your item. That signed written estimate is backed up by their experience, education and research and in most cases is acceptable for insurance and legal purposes. That’s where you go if you REALLY want to know what its worth.


Send comments, questions and pictures to Fred Taylor at P.O. Box 215, Crystal River, FL 34423 or email them to him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Visit Fred's newly redesigned website at www.furnituredetective.com and check out the new downloadable "Common Sense Antiques" columns in .pdf format. His book How To Be a Furniture Detective is available for $18.95 plus $3 shipping. Send check or money order for $21.95 to Fred Taylor, P.O. Box 215, Crystal River, FL, 34423.

Fred and Gail Taylor's DVD, Identification of Older & Antique Furniture ($17 + $3 S&H) is also available at the same address. For more information call 800-387-6377 (9 a.m.-4 p.m. Eastern, M-F only), fax 352-563-2916, or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . All items are also available directly from his website.



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE
A West Indies carved mahogany and caned rocking chair, 19th century. Reference: Conners, Michael. 'Caribbean Elegance,' 2002. p. 46, fig. 34. A pair of these rockers sold at auction in New Orleans last year for $4,305. Image courtesy of Neal Auction Co.
Last Updated on Monday, 08 December 2014 15:24
 

Furniture Specific: Using your head, not your back

PDF Print E-mail
Written by FRED TAYLOR   
Thursday, 04 September 2014 14:11

Besides your brain, here are few of the tools to help you have a successful move.

CRYSTAL RIVEER, Fla. – Unless you are one of those folks who lives in a sterile condo furnished with every anonymous artifact your decorator thinks you should have, the prospect of moving can be one of the most traumatic occurrences of your life. The sterile set just calls a mover and goes to South Beach for the season. The rest of us have to struggle with sorting out the flotsam and jetsam of our ordinary, disorganized lives.

The last time I moved it was from a house where my best friend Gail and I had lived for the better part of 30 years. We began our lives together there, we raised our children there and at long last it was time to go. But what about all that “stuff” we had accumulated? Not to mention all the stuff our children refused to take with them when they went to college and later into the real world.

Naturally we did it the hard way – mostly by ourselves over a period of nine months (come to think of it that sounds awfully familiar). After an interminable series of yard sales, each resulting in a trip to a local charity with the DNS load (Did Not Sell in auction terminology), we were left with the hard core of our prized, semi-prized and “just can’t leave” possessions. This remaining haul we sorted into two categories, the articles that we could leave to the mover and his euphemistically called “helper” and the really good things we wanted to move ourselves, including most of our antique furniture. Having been in the furniture restoration business for more than 20 years we were pretty good at loading and unloading trucks.

One thing you may or may not have noticed, if you have ever paid attention to real professional moving people, the folks who haul concert grands up the side of a building and can handle an egg with more finesse than a mother hen, is that these people do not employ large amounts of brute strength. Of course a certain amount of muscle is a basic requirement but that’s not what gets the piano up the wall. Brainpower does that.

So start by doing some mental exercise. Survey the pieces you need to move. Study how the pieces are assembled. Make sure you understand how the top is attached to the frame of the dining table. Take a look at the bottom rail of the chest. Is it sturdy enough to carry the weight of the chest? Note what appear to be any weaknesses in the design or construction of a piece. Are the legs at risk? Poorly blocked or loose already? Are the arms fragile or the bed rickety? Is the finish strong enough to withstand handling and packing or does it need special attention. When you understand the work to be done you are ready to proceed.

Next, acknowledge that most moving jobs are two-person tasks. Few articles can be safely moved by one person. And that requires a level of understanding and trust between two movers that few people rarely accomplish in other parts of their lives. You must know your partner’s strengths and weaknesses. You also must both agree on what “up a little” means and how far is “just a tad.” You need to know who is nimble enough to walk backwards and who can do stairs without looking. And if you say “go the right” is that your right or their right? Communication is the key. Lay out your intended plan to your accomplice. Walk the route out to the truck or out of the truck into the house. Visualize yourself carrying the piece down the hall, around the corner, up the stairs and through the door. Make sure your partner has the same vision. Count the number of steps up a stairway. That way when you actually carry something up you can count the steps out loud and everyone knows the current position.

Then check the route. Make sure it is free of obstacles and most of all make sure the piece will actually fit through the door at the top of the stairs. It’s easier than backing back down the stairs fully loaded. That’s what they make tape measures for. Make sure each person involved in the move has one.

There are a few major basic rules about moving furniture. The first is that the most obvious way to carry something usually is not the right way. That is true for virtually all armchairs, especially upholstered wing chairs and overstuffed club chairs. The temptation is to grab the arms and take off but that seldom produces satisfactory results because the arms of chairs are made to resist downward pressure, not upward pressure, even those on upholstered chairs. Carry large chairs from the bottom if at all possible or at least by the seat frame if you have height or visibility restrictions.

A corollary to the “no arm” rule is the “attached element” rule. Nothing should ever be grabbed or carried by anything added to a piece as a decorative element. That includes finials, gallery rails, crowns, splashboards, applied molding or carving, hardware or even handles, as tempting as that may be.

Another corollary is the “grocery cart” rule. Some furniture has wheels on it but don’t be fooled by that. Usually those wheels are just a stylistic element used to lift the piece off the floor so it doesn’t get mopped or vacuumed. And like most grocery carts, those wheels really aren’t made to roll the piece around on. That’s a good way to break the leg from a nice old table, chest or bed. In spite of the presence of wheels, just pick the piece up. But watch for wheels that may drop out of loose sockets as you pick it up. That’s a good way to lose a wheel, useless as it is.

The most prominent category of antique furniture is case goods. Before you start to move a chest of drawers or a desk, take a minute and step back. What exactly are you moving? In most cases you are moving a box, the case. It may have drawers or doors or a combination of both but it basically is a box. So move a box, not a desk or a chest. Start by removing the drawers but be sure to number them in order, even if they are different sizes. I know, I know, but humor me – Murphy has not repealed his law. Don’t forget the interior drawers of a desk or bachelor’s chest. Then remove and label any loose objects like shelves, shelf supports and drawer dividers that may want to go AWOL or break free and damage the interior. Finally secure doors and drop fronts by locking them if possible. If they can’t be locked don’t tape them shut. Tape has a tendency to pull finish and leave nasty residue. Wrap a good packing blanket around the piece and secure it in place with a rope or elastic strap to keep doors from swinging open.

If the cabinet has glass panels or glass doors of course you need to be extra careful, not just for the piece but for yourself. Old glass can be very brittle and temperamental – and very sharp when it shatters. If possible stuff the inside of the cabinet with blankets and pads to support the old glass so it doesn’t vibrate too much on its trip, especially if the piece is being transported on its back.

Finally bear in mind that you actually have two objectives in moving a piece of furniture – one is to safely move the piece from here to there and the other is for you to arrive in an undamaged condition also. In fact the latter has a higher priority in my opinion. Use all of the standard precautions about lifting with your legs and not your back, etc. but the most important thing you can do is use your head.

Send comments, questions and pictures to Fred Taylor at P.O. Box 215, Crystal River, FL 34423 or email them to him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Visit Fred's newly redesigned website at www.furnituredetective.com and check out the new downloadable "Common Sense Antiques" columns in .pdf format. His book How To Be a Furniture Detective is available for $18.95 plus $3 shipping. Send check or money order for $21.95 to Fred Taylor, P.O. Box 215, Crystal River, FL, 34423.

Fred and Gail Taylor's DVD, Identification of Older & Antique Furniture ($17 + $3 S&H) is also available at the same address. For more information call 800-387-6377 (9 a.m.-4 p.m. Eastern, M-F only), fax 352-563-2916, or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . All items are also available directly from his website.



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE

 Besides your brain, here are few of the tools to help you have a successful move.

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 September 2014 14:36
 
<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next > End >>

Page 1 of 13
ADVERTISEMENTS

Banner Banner