Antiques / By Terry and Kim Kovel - The Buffalo News

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Antiques / By Terry and Kim Kovel

An heirloom bronze elephant with ivory tusks, great-grandmother’s piano with ivory keys, a vintage ivory chess set or an antique silver teapot with a small ivory inset in the handle may be “endangered” by proposed laws that could soon be in place.

Buying, selling or importing ivory from recently killed African elephants has been illegal for about 25 years. But an executive order issued by President Obama would extend the ban to all antique ivory harvested from elephants that died before 1914. There would be a law forbidding sales, even gifts to museums, of any ivory, including antique pieces. This affects antiques dealers and collectors, knife makers and collectors, Inuit craftsmen, owners of mahjong and chess sets, and manufacturers of musical instruments.

Those in favor of strong endangered species laws want to also insist that all confiscated antique carved ivory art be destroyed – not even given to a museum. For detailed information, find the White House fact sheet here..


Q: My bedroom suite has a chest of drawers and dresser made of light wood. They are marked “Birchcraft by Baumritter.” Does the suite have value other than as used furniture?

A: Baumritter Corp. was founded by Theodore Baumritter and his brother-in-law, Nathan Ancell, in New York City in 1932. Baumritter and Ancell bought a furniture company in Beecher Falls, Vt., in 1936. The company introduced a 28-piece line of “Ethan Allen” furniture in 1939. The company became Ethan Allen Industries in 1972. Furniture with a modern look is bought by those wanting a ’50s look and sells for a little more than other used.


Q: I bought a heavy glass vase at auction several years ago. It’s 14½ inches tall and 7 inches wide. The signature on the back is “Legras.” The vase is decorated with trees around a lake. The orange-colored sky and reflection in the lake look like it is sunset or sunrise. When light shines through the glass, it looks like the sun is shining through the trees. Can you tell me anything about the maker and the vase’s value?

A: Auguste Legras founded his glassworks at St. Denis, France, in 1864. Legras is known for its cameo glass and enamel-decorated glass in Art Nouveau designs. The company merged with Pantin in 1920. Legras vases sell for a few hundred to over a thousand dollars. A vase with a similar scene sold at auction for $355 earlier this year.

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