Tandem bicycling was Olympic sport in mid-1900s

Tim Kovel and Kerry Kovel
Cowles Syndicate
Advertising posters often had fanciful illustrations to attract attention. This one with tandem bicyclists sold for $6,600 at Poster Auctions International.

This 1894 poster could have been made for an Olympic event in the early 1900s or well into the 20th century. Tandem bicycling was a Summer Olympics event in 1908 and then again from 1920 to 1972.

Two-rider teams raced for 2,000 meters on tandem bicycles. In 1908, 34 riders from seven countries took part. France won the gold medal. In 1972, the last year before it was dropped, the event included 28 riders from 14 nations. Tandem bicycle races are still part of the Paralympics. 

This antique bicycle advertising poster sold for $6,600 at Poster Auctions International. It pictures a pair of riders on a tandem bike racing from Earth toward the stars. The prophetic poster was created by Ferdinand Lunel (1857-1933), known best for his humorous drawings.

Question: I have a Victorian cast-iron parlor stove that belonged to my grandparents. It's impressed "S.H. Ransom & Co., Albany." It has four short legs and is decorated with ornate raised designs. The top decorative piece is broken. Can you give me any information about this stove, the maker and possible value? Is there anyone who restores cast-iron stoves? 

Answer: Albany, N.Y., was the heart of the stove industry in the United States from about 1820 to 1870. At one time, there were about 350 stove manufacturers in Albany and nearby Troy, N.Y. Samuel H. Ransom and John F. Rathbone established a foundry in Albany in 1840. They parted ways in 1844, and S.H. Ransom & Co. was started in 1845.

The company made wood, oil, coal and gas stoves. It also made cookware. The company was in business until at least 1887. Style, rarity and condition determine price. An S.H. Ransom & Co. cast-iron parlor stove patented in 1847 and elaborately embossed with pictures of royalty on the front and warriors on the sides, in perfect condition, was offered for sale for $2,450. Other S.H. Ransom & Co. parlor stoves have sold for $375 to $400. A source for information and repair of old stoves is Good Times Stove Co. (goodtimestove.com). Other sources can be found in Kovels.com.

Q: Would there be any interest in a five-piece cherrywood furniture ensemble consisting of a loveseat, platform rocker, armchair and two straight chairs? It's been in the family since the 1890s. The wood framing is beautiful. Does it have any value? 

A: Furniture in good condition will sell. Pieces by a famous maker sell for the highest prices. Look for a maker's mark or label on the underside of the furniture. If you find a maker's name, search online to see what the furniture sells for. Large, heavy pieces in styles that aren't popular are harder to sell. They usually do better in a house sale, which attracts multiple buyers. You can contact a local antiques dealer to see if they can sell your furniture. If they aren't interested and you have to sell it yourself, consider donating it to a charity instead. They will usually pick it up, and you can take a tax deduction for the value of the furniture.

Q: My mom lives in Colorado and has some furniture that she believes may be worth money, and she would like to have the pieces appraised. I'm helping her, but I'm not sure what to look for when looking for an appraiser. Can you provide me with some guidance? 

A: First decide what kind of appraisal you need. If you want a written appraisal, with details about the age, maker and condition included, you can contact one of the major appraisal organizations: American Society of Appraisers (isa.appraisers.org), Appraisers Association of America (appraisersassociation.org) or International Society of Appraisers (www.isa-appraisers.org). They list qualified appraisers by area and specialty. You can also browse or search for appraisal services on Kovels.com.

Tell the appraiser you want to know the market value of the furniture. Appraisals for insurance purposes or for estate taxes usually require further documentation, and the value might be different. Be sure to ask what the charges are before hiring someone. If you just want an idea of what the furniture will sell for, a verbal appraisal by an antiques dealer in your area might be enough. Choose someone who is not a potential buyer. If the furniture includes pieces that will sell for $1,000 or more, contact an auction house to sell them. They will probably get the highest prices.

TIP: Make your furniture friendly. Chairs should be about 42 to 120 inches apart in a room meant for conversation, like a living room or den. Too close and personal space is threatened; farther away and it's bad for hearing or eye contact.

Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer readers' questions sent to the column. Send a letter with one question describing the size, material (glass, pottery) and what you know about the item. Include only two pictures, the object and a closeup of any marks or damage. Be sure your name and return address are included. By sending a question, you give full permission for use in any Kovel product. Names, addresses or email addresses will not be published. We do not guarantee the return of photographs, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. Questions that are answered will appear in Kovels Publications. Write to Kovels, (Name of this newspaper), King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803 or email us at collectorsgallery@kovels.com.