Some antiques are so odd, they cannot easily be identified.
Medical and dental tools are among the most difficult to name. A strange-looking scarifier was used to "bleed" a patient in the days when it was thought that too much blood made you sick. A small brass rod with a rotating curved hook on the top was used to pull teeth.
Even furniture can be a mystery. Ever see a gout stool or a birthing chair? Or a dentist's chair that was made to be portable?
The wooden portable chair resembled an everyday folding chair, but the legs were much longer, there were iron rods and a crank that adjusted the seat, and a small headrest was stuck up at the top. Just fold up the legs, headrest and back, and carry away a manageable rectangular package.
Because it is weird-looking and unusable today, the chair would not sell for a high price to anyone but a collector of dental antiques.
Q: My teenage daughter and her friends volunteered to raise money for a local charity. They held a garage sale and asked for donations. I pulled one of the items out of the sale because I thought it was worth more than the girls could get. It's a pottery bowl painted blue with green leaves and bright-red painted berries. Some of the berries are raised. The stamped green mark on the bottom is square with a crown and the words "Bursley Ware, England" inside. I'd like to know what it's worth so I can sell it and give the money to the charity.
A: You were smart to pull the bowl from the sale. The bowl is a piece of art pottery made by Charlotte Rhead (1885-1947) between 1920 and 1926. She worked at various Staffordshire potteries and is best-known for "tube-line" raised decorations that she made by squeezing wet clay from a small, hand-held rubber bag. Bursley Ltd. was formed in 1920 to produce art wares at the Crown Pottery in Burslem, England. Today Bursley art wares sell for $100 and up. Price depends on quality, size and condition.
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