Many of the clever toys and accessories for children are just updated versions of very old things. The pacifier, now made of soft plastic, is an inexpensive idea that came from the silver and coral pacifier and teether of the 18th century. Dolls date back to the cavemen. Highchairs were in use in the 19th century, but they would have failed the safety tests of today. Antique cribs usually have bars that are too far apart and paint that contains lead, making them so unsafe you can’t sell them to be used by children. But some antique cradles are bought to hold dolls, and sharp tin toys are kept high on a shelf as decorations. In February, an early wooden baby tender was sold by Cowan’s Auctions in Cincinnati. The 15 spindles are shaped like those used on Windsor chairs. It was originally painted red, then later painted with a grain finish. There is a built-in seat and tray so the child could walk, sit or play in the baby tender. The unusual piece sold for $780 and will be displayed but not used by a 21st century baby.
Q: I own a matching set of chest of drawers and vanity with an adjustable mirror made by the Keystone Furniture Co. of Williamsport, Pa. They are Queen Ann style and are made of oak, black walnut and maple. Both need refinishing but are in nice condition otherwise. The chest was painted in the past, and I removed most of the finish from all but three drawers. How much is this set worth “as is”?
A: George Luppert (1835-1914) emigrated from Germany in 1853 and established Keystone Furniture Co. in Williamsport in 1887. It closed in 1906. Furniture made around the turn of the 20th century sells for used furniture prices. Since you’ve already started restoring the finish on the chest, you should finish the job. It will look better and may be sold for a higher price. American 18th century furniture can lose as much as 80 percent of its value if it has been refinished, but European furniture that has been refinished or even restored does not lose much value as long as the work was well done.
Q: I inherited a set of Bavarian china. It’s white with gold trim and is marked “Hutschenreuther, Selb,” “Pasco” and “The Brighton.” My favorite piece is a 13-inch round platter. Can you tell me its worth?
A: Your platter was made by Hutschenreuther, a company founded in Hohenburg, Bavaria, in 1814. A factory in Selb, Germany, was established in 1857. “Pasco” is the mark of Paul A. Straub & Co. of New York City, an importer in business from 1915 to 1970. “The Brighton” is the name of the pattern, which was made from 1965 to 1987. Hutschenreuther became part of the Rosenthal division of the Waterford Wedgwood Group in 2000. Rosenthal was bought by Sambonet Paderno Industries, headquartered in Orfengo, Navara, Italy, in 2009. Your platter is a chop plate made 50 years ago. It sells for $140 today.