Egyptian style furniture has been revived throughout history
A chair decorated with Egyptian hieroglyphics, stylized birds and sphinx heads can probably be dated from its Egyptian Revival style. But furniture designs have been through several Egyptian revivals. One started in about 1800, after Napoleon battled in Egypt. Another lasted from the 1830s to the 1850s following great archeological finds in Egypt. A third short revival, from 1895 to the early 1900s, combined Egyptian Revival with elaborate Victorian styles. Egyptian-style furniture seen most often today dates from the 1920s-30s, after the discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb. Art Deco designs joined Egyptian-inspired animals and symbols to create a totally new look. Although Egyptian Revival jewelry from that period has been going up in price, the furniture has lost favor and is selling at bargain prices. An early 1900s chair with bone inlay and a very Egyptian-looking carved wooden back shaped like an Anubi (the Egyptian jackal-headed man who was god of the dead) sold at Neal Auction Co. in New Orleans for $777. Perhaps the symbolism of the Egyptian god was not wanted by many 2014 bidders.
Q My grandmother, who was born in China, came to this country in 1953 and brought a stuffed bird-of-paradise with her. I have it stored in my cedar chest, and it is still in very good condition. Can I sell it in the United States or is this now illegal?
A Most birds-of-paradise are found in New Guinea, although a few live on nearby islands and in eastern Australia. In 1522 members of Magellan’s crew who sailed around the world brought back five bird-of-paradise “trade-skins.” They were a gift for Emperor Charles V, who ruled the Holy Roman Empire, from the Sultan of Bacan. The birds’ plumes were popular with European royalty, and by 1904 hats sporting feathers or entire birds were fashionable in the United States. Stuffed birds under glass domes were even displayed in homes of the wealthy. There are 39 species of birds-of-paradise. Some are endangered and it’s illegal to hunt or export them, but local people are allowed to catch the birds for their plumes, which evidently are used in tribal ceremonies. You should contact the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to see if it’s legal to sell your stuffed example.
Q I have three Disney drinking glasses decorated with different scenes from “Cinderella” and a few lines of text from the story. The pictures are red line drawings with a few areas filled in with pale blue or yellow. I think I got the glasses in the 1950s. Are they of any value?
A Walt Disney’s animated musical feature film, “Cinderella,” was distributed by RKO Radio Pictures in 1950. It was a popular movie and many Cinderella items have been made. Your glasses are part of a series that included at least eight different scenes. They sell today for $12 to $20 each.
Q My aunt gave me a Will Rogers and Wiley Post lamp. The bronze base has a globe with relief busts of Rogers and Post above laurel leaves on the front and their names at the base. There is a two-seater plane landing on the top of the globe. The lamp has a vintage glass shade. Who were these men? How old is the lamp?
A Will Rogers was a humorist who performed in vaudeville, on the radio and in films, and also wrote a syndicated daily newspaper column. Wiley Post was the first person to make a successful solo flight around the world. He asked Rogers to ride along on a flight while he surveyed air routes from the United States to Russia. They were killed when their plane crashed on takeoff near Point Barrow, Alaska, in August 1935. Your lamp was made to commemorate the pair shortly after their deaths. Condition is important. Prices range from $250 to $500.
Q I have three Beneagles figural bottles – a Loch Ness monster, a gray badger and a clown-headed chicken. How much are they worth?
A Beswick, an English pottery, made flasks for Beneagles Scotch Whisky. Twenty different animal shapes were made between 1965 and 1987. Your clown-headed chicken is called the “Haggis Bird.” The flasks vary in size and price. Most sell today for $10 to $30.
Q We own an old violin with this label inside: “Heinrich Th. Heberlein Jr., Markneukirchen 1898, Imitation: Joseph Guarnerius.” The back and sides are beautiful tiger maple and the instrument is in fine condition. The violin belonged to a woman who was once a member of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Can you tell us something about the violin’s history and value?
A Heinrich Thomas Heberlein Jr. (1843-1910) ran a violin-making workshop in Markneukirchen, Saxony, Germany – an area known since the 1600s for producing high-quality musical instruments. Heberlein styled many of his instruments after those of earlier makers. Yours is a copy of a violin by Joseph Guarnerius (1698-1744), a respected Italian violin maker also known as Giuseppe Guarneri. Women first joined the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in 1942, so the woman who played your violin used it in 1942 or later. Heberlein violins are well-respected instruments, but an expert musician would have to play yours to help determine its value. We have seen Heberlein violins sell for hundreds of dollars into the low thousands.
Tip: Do not dry clean vintage textiles.
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