It can take time to learn the names of the various periods of furniture.
For example, study a Queen Anne chair. It has many curves: a curved back, a rounded seat front, a curved crest rail and curved stiles at the sides of the back. The legs curve from the knee to the foot.
Queen Anne chairs have been popular for the past 200 years, and many copies have been made. The chairs are often narrower than those from other periods, so they are often used at dining room tables.
Few people can afford a quality 1750 American Queen Anne chair, but there are many 1820s, 1880s and 1930s copies that can be found.
Try to find chairs that are as much like the 18th century examples as possible. The curves should be graceful, and in the proportions that were used in the past. The back should be high but should not tip back very far. The feet should be well-formed, perhaps carved to look like animal's feet.
The more accurate the copy, the more likely the chair will retain its value.
When paying top dollar for a reproduction chair, be sure the construction is sturdy and there have been no major repairs.
Dishes by Ashworth
Q: My set of 50 dishes belonged to my great-grandmother, who was married in 1860. The dishes are white with a brown design picturing a waterfront scene with a sailing ship. The backs are marked with a ship and the words "American Marine, G.L.A. & Bro." Who made the dishes? Dealers have told me they have seen the dishes before in blue but not in brown.
A: Your dishes were made by George L. Ashworth & Bro. of Hanley, England, shortly after your great-grandmother was married.
Many dinnerware patterns made in England were decorated with American designs and exported to the United States. The American Marine pattern was made in brown, red or blue.
A valuable coffee mill
Q: My mother owns a 40-inch-high coffee mill that was on a counter in her family's store in upstate New York. On the sides of the two iron wheels are the words "Swift Mill Lane Brothers, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., patented Feb. 1875." There's a painting of a covered wagon on the red-painted iron hopper. What is the coffee mill worth?
A: In 1945, Beriah Swift of Millbrook, N.Y., patented a coffee mill and built a factory to make the mills. William and John Lane joined the business about 1880, and the company moved to Poughkeepsie.
Lane Bros. -- Swift Co. patented and manufactured several mills, including yours, between 1845 and 1920.
If the painting on your mill is in excellent condition, your mill is worth at least $1,500.