The 19th century was a time of innovation in wooden furniture. New inventions, such as the jigsaw, and construction methods, such as mass production, opened up previously unseen possibilities for architects and designers.
One of these designers was Stephen Hedges of New York, whose patent for a “table and chair combo” filed April 1854, can be viewed online at Google Patents. His invention appears to be a small round table, but, with half of the hinged top folded down, opens into a desk connected to a semi-circular chair. A mahogany example with leather upholstery and attributed to Hedges sold at Neal Auction in New Orleans for $1,586.
This style of convertible desk and chair is sometimes known as “Aaron Burr Desk” after the statesman and third vice-president of the United States. As often happens when a style is associated with a historical figure, it is not based on a true story. An article published in 1911 claimed that not only did Burr own a desk like this, but that it was also designed specifically for him to accommodate his small stature. This article apparently ignored the fact that Burr died almost 20 years before Hedges filed his patent!
Q: I have noticed that Waterford crystal vases, candlesticks and clocks seem to sell for very low prices on internet markets. I feel like I’m doing good business. I recently purchased a small Waterford clock for $25. But why is this happening?
A: Waterford crystal was first made in 1783 in the Irish city of Waterford. In 1986 Waterford purchased Wedgwood and formed the Waterford Wedgwood Group. It became part of WWRD Holdings in 2009. WWRD was purchased by Fiskars in 2015. Waterford and Wedgwood are now Fiskars owned brands. What you are witnessing is the normal ebb and flow of collection. Many items that sold for high prices – like bakelite jewelry 15 years ago – now sell for much less. Waterford is at rock bottom. But remember what we say about collecting: you should collect what you love. Don’t collect things to predict the future and hope to make money.
Q: I made an impulse purchase at a garage sale of a nice 6 inch plate. It has a 1/2 inch high rim. The words “Baby’s Plate” are on the orange-brown rim. The interior is pale yellow with five baby ducks running around in a green circle. I paid $15. Can you tell me a bit about the plate?
A: You purchased a Vintage Roseville Pottery Juvenile Creamery “Baby’s Plate” with five yellow chicks and a rolled rim. Roseville Juvenile creamware was introduced by Roseville Pottery around 1910. The range includes bowls, plates, cups, mugs and pitchers decorated with ducks, pigs, rabbits, dogs, cats, sun hats and more again. Roseville Juvenile pieces were often unmarked, but later examples from circa 1924 are marked with the “VR” inkpad. Juvenile was very popular and was made by the factory for over 20 years. A set of two rimmed plates like yours, plus a dinner plate, auctioned for $57 in July 2021.
Q: We have a set of four white molded fiberglass chairs with swivel pedestal bases and vinyl cushions that screw into the seat. They are marked with a large “B” and “Burke, Inc., Dallas, TX, 103.” What are they worth?
A: Burke’s chairs were inspired by mid-century modern style “Tulip Chair” designed by Eero Saarinen in 1957. Burke’s molded chairs were made with a round leg on the base of the pedestal or in the shape of a star “Helix” foot. Molded armchairs in the same style were also made. The cushions were available in several colors. Mid-century modern styles are popular. The chairs sell for around $150 to $250.
Q: My dad gave me one of his old toys, a very nice Kuramochi Packard car. Do you have any background on that?
A: Toy cars and robots were the hallmark of the Japanese tin toy industry. Before World War II, Japanese companies like CK or Kuramochi Co. produced large cars with realistic details. These were models of American cars such as Graham-Paige, Packard, Buick, Plymouth and Chrysler. Simple and efficient clockwork motors powered these toys and some even had electric lights. They made them in three sizes, from 4 to 12 inches, and they are sought after by collectors today. A pre-war Japanese Kuramochi police car with box, 11 inches long, sold in November 2019 at Bertoia auction for $1,750.