That strange wooden table may have value

#Middlebury #Kovels

As fashions change in clothing, so do fashions in furniture and design. Norman Rockwell was considered a commercial artist of little value for many years, but now his original paintings for magazine covers can sell for millions of dollars.

This rare table with carved top and sides was made in Minneapolis in 1905. It sold in 2016 for $24,000.

A strange table made by John Scott Bradstreet (1845-1914) recently was offered at a Cowan auction in Cincinnati. Bradstreet was a leading interior designer, decorator and tastemaker in Minneapolis for many years before he died in a car crash in 1914. The table was in the Arts and Crafts style – sort of. Bradstreet went to Japan many times, and his designs were influenced by Asian arts and bits of many other styles: English Arts and Crafts, Moorish, Gothic, the Aesthetic Movement and the works of Whistler.

The wooden center table sold in the auction was covered with shallow carvings that followed the grain. The technique, called by the Japanese name jin-di-sugi, used cypress, a soft wood that, after a long time in water or mud, develops raised lines in the grain. The wood was then scorched, brushed, carved and waxed, a process that was modernized and patented by Bradstreet. Few pieces like this are known, and many of these are in museums.

The auctioned table had side panels that flipped down to make small display shelves on each side. We looked for more information about this table and the maker, and found that it had sold in 2005 for an estimated price of $50,000 to $75,000. This time, the table brought $24,000.

Q: We were recently given a collection of hatpins. They were passed on from my fiancee’s grandmother. We believe they are from around 1921. We’d like to know more about them.

A: Women wore bonnets that tied under the chin until about 1860. Hatpins came into use when hats without ties became fashionable and the pins were needed to hold them on. Hatpins also were used to pin hairpieces on to create the puffy hairstyles popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s. When smaller hats and shorter hair became popular in the 1920s, hatpins were no longer needed. Hatpins have been made of a variety of materials, can be simple or ornate, and can be as long as 12 inches. They sell today for less than $15 to a few hundred dollars. Their value is determined by workmanship and the materials. Gold, silver or valuable jewels increase the hatpin’s value.

Tip: To clean the stem and bowl of a collectible briar pipe, dip a pipe cleaner in vodka, and push it through the stem. Use a dry pipe cleaner for any pipe but a briar pipe.

“A Diary: How to Settle a Collector’s Estate” is our week-by-week record of the settlement of an estate, from your first days gathering legal papers to the last days when you’re dividing antiques among heirs and selling everything else – even the house. Available only from Kovels for $19.95, plus $4.95 postage and handling. Order by phone at 800-303-1996; online at; or write to Kovels, P.O. Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122.

(c) 2018 King Features Synd., Inc.


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