Share this article

print logo

Antiques / by Terry Kovel

Sometimes an unusual piece of furniture is offered for sale, and many collectors fight over it.

A "Dr. Byrne's Medical Examination Chair" was offered by Skinner Auctioneers of Boston. The odd chair was clearly labeled with its name and the maker, S. Betz & Co. of Chicago. The red-painted steel chair also was marked on the footrests with the maker's name and the words "Model 1901 Prof. A.H. Ferguson." The chair has levers to adjust the back, footrest and height, and it can be flattened to use as a table with stirrups. It is about 56 inches high.
Nineteenth-century medical chairs are not often sold. This one brought $475. Would you buy a 1930 permanent-wave machine with a chair hood and dangling cords? Would you put a 1940s washing machine in your living room near a wall of polished steel school lockers? Few pieces of furniture representing technology have survived, but all of the ones we mentioned have sold at recent auctions.


Q: My child-size green lusterware tea set is decorated with white and pink flower blossoms. The set includes four cups and 3-1/4-inch-diameter saucers, a 3-1/2-inch teapot, and a sugar and creamer. Some of the pieces are marked "Made in Japan." There's not a chip anywhere. Age and value?

A: Many lusterware children's tea sets were made in Japan during the 1930s. Your set was probably made then, or perhaps as early as the late 1920s. Your set is a small one, without plates. It would sell for about $35 to $50.


Q: I have an original Woodstock poster in mint condition. What is it worth?

A: The famous Woodstock Music and Art Fair was held near White Lake in 1969. The best-known Woodstock poster was designed by Arnold Skolnick and came in two sizes, 18 by 24 inches and 32 by 24 inches. It was printed on either heavy cardstock or very thin paper, and features a white dove perched on the neck of a guitar on a red background. The true "original" poster was designed by David Edward Byrd and shows a nude woman surrounded by cupids and flowers. When the location of the festival was changed, Byrd was on vacation and unreachable, so Skolnick was commissioned to create the new poster. Woodstock memorabilia is popular with collectors. An original Byrd poster in excellent condition recently auctioned for $468. The Skolnick version in near-mint condition sold for $1,156. But beware. Many reproductions exist.


Store card albums flat. This prevents your baseball cards or old valentines from damage. Check the album periodically to make sure the pages are not sticking together.