Watch out for reproduction copies of medieval armor

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Farm Forum

Medieval armor was one of the prized purchases by Americans taking the Grand Tour of Europe in Victorian days. And, clever metalsmiths made copies of the armor that were able to fool the average tourist, even some experts. When an important American art museum remodeled its gallery filled with armor donated in the 1980s, the pieces on exhibit were sent to be cleaned, refurnished and properly conserved. Many of the pieces were found to be 19th-century copies, not original armor from the 15th century.

The earliest armor was made of chainmail, a flexible covering made of linked circles. By the 16th century plate armor was made, and it stayed popular until the 18th century. Some armor was used as late as World War I. The plate armor often was heavily decorated with etched designs, but it could be pierced. Plate armor was added to the head, chest, legs and finally almost the entire body.

Authentic armor is very rare and expensive today, but occasionally an auction offers a reproduction of a suit of armor. Poulin Antiques and Auctions of Fairfield, Maine, sold a 69-inch high set with overall etching in March 2016. It was probably made in the late 1800s or early 1900s. Estimated at $1,400 to $1,800, it sold for $2,115.

Q My father-in-law had an old potbellied stove in his construction company’s workshop. The door is embossed “A Kalamazoo, Direct to You.” We’d like to know about how old it is.

A The Kalamazoo Stove Co. was in business in Kalamazoo, Michigan, from 1902 to 1952. The words “A Kalamazoo, Direct to You” were used because the manufacturer sold directly to customers. The name of the company became Kalamazoo Stove and Furnace Co. in 1937. The company made millions of stoves, mostly wood or coal-burning.

Q I’m interested in selling my Beswick figurine collection. It consists of 78 pieces, mostly horses with some Siamese cats, and a few others. If you would point me in the right direction, it would be greatly appreciated.

A Beswick started making pottery in Staffordshire, England, in 1894. The pottery became John Beswick Ltd. in 1936. Figurines of animals, especially dogs and horses, were made. The company became part of Royal Doulton Tableware, Ltd. in 1969. Production ceased in 2002 and the John Beswick name and brand was bought by Dartington Crystal in 2004. Figurines don’t sell as well as they used to. Many Beswick figurines are sold online.

Q While driving in the countryside during the late 1970s, I came across a perfect Norman Rockwell scene – a little girl with her lemonade stand and two utility workers standing there sipping their cups of lemonade. I wrote to Rockwell and described this as “a perfect Norman Rockwell” scene. He wrote back to thank me and said public interest in his work had waned. The letter is typed on his personal stationary and signed in ink. I’m downsizing and would like to know the value of this letter.

A Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) became famous for his magazine covers, illustration and advertising art. Many of his paintings were later reproduced and sold as prints. The value of an autographed letter depends on the importance of the person who signed it and the rarity of his signature. A letter that is handwritten and hand signed is worth more than a typed letter with a handwritten signature. The content of the letter also affects value. Condition and authenticity are also important. Typewritten letters signed by Norman Rockwell sell for about $100, but since his paintings are going for higher and higher prices, perhaps the autographs will go up in value. The content of the letter is very interesting.

Q I have a comic book with the title “Charlie Chaplin in the Movies” that is marked “No. 316” and “copyright 1917 by J. Keely by arrangement with Essanay Company, M.A. Donohue & Co., Chicago.” It’s in poor condition and I want to sell it to a restorer.

A A first edition of this comic book was offered for sale for $875. M.A. Donohue was the publisher of the comic book. Essanay produced films starring Charlie Chaplin beginning in 1914. Not many copies of this comic survived in excellent condition. Your copy in poor condition won’t be worth very much. You might be able to find someone interested in it at a comic book show. Restorers do restoration work and get paid for it. They don’t buy things to fix.

Tip: Keep a “mystery disaster” box. If you find a piece of veneer, an old screw or even a porcelain rosebud, put it into the box until you are able to make the necessary repairs.

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