NEWS

Empire-style stools are evidence even mundane furniture can borrow ancient trends

Terry and Kim Kovel
Cowles Syndicate

Antique collectors know that styles repeat, pieces can be replicated and design periods can be revived. This stool was made in the 20th century, but its style is from the Empire period, which lasted from about 1815 to 1840 in America.

Empire style originated with the French Empire in the early 1800s and was inspired by antiquities. Napoleon Bonaparte led an invasion of Egypt in 1798. Although his troops were defeated, a scientific expedition began. Napoleon sent scholars back to Egypt to study monuments and antiquities. This was the beginning of archaeology, inspiring a fashion for antiquity.

This Empire-style stool was made in the 20th century, but it was based on a style from the early 1800s that was inspired by designs from ancient Egypt.

Decorative arts in the Empire style featured designs from ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman art and architecture. The influence of ancient art is clearly seen in this Empire-style stool, which sold for $1,250 at New Orleans Auction Galleries. It is an example of Empire style, even if it is not from the Empire period. The winged animal's head supports, paw feet, gilt rosettes and Greek key trim are all borrowed from the ancient world, but the materials, construction and maker's label identify it as modern.

Question: My parents gave away all my toys when I went to college. One toy that I can't forget about was a Fisher-Price Tick Tock clock. I finally found one recently in an antiques mall. I paid $8 for it, even though the music mechanism sounds damaged. Is this a good price?

Answer: Sorry about your parents throwing your toys out. I hear that a lot from collectors wanting some of their childhood back, even if it is through items from antiques stores. Your Fisher-Price Tick Tock Teaching Clock was very popular, introduced in the early 1960s. The most popular models, with slight visual differences, came out in 1962 and 1964. It is colorful, with stickers and a clock face with big numbers and arms. Images of night and day are revealed as the arms move. When wound up, it plays the song "Grandfather's Clock" and has a background metronome ticking sound. You got a bargain! Most of those clocks sell online for up to $60, depending on condition. They are still being made and sold.

Q: I have a collection of Pfaltzgraff Village stoneware from the 1970s and am looking to replace a few pieces. Some have the castle stamp, some have a different stamp with a small circle at the top and "USA," and others have no stamp at all. I'm trying to find the date and value of these pieces. Can you give me any information or resources that could help me find this?

Pfaltzgraff was started by members of the Pfaltzgraff family in 1811 and is the oldest pottery in the United States. Stoneware crocks, jugs, flower pots and utility jars were made at first. Different members of the family started their own potteries. Brothers Henry B. and George B. Pfaltzgraff started their company in York County, Pennsylvania, in 1889. It became the Pfaltzgraff Stoneware Company in 1894. The name became the Pfaltzgraff Pottery Co. in 1906. It was changed to Pfaltzgraff Co. in 1964. Dinnerware was first made in the 1950s. The "Village" pattern was made in the United States beginning in 1976. It was made in China beginning in 2007 and is no longer made in the U.S. Pfaltzgraff used a variety of marks, both stamped and engraved. If you want to replace missing pieces, several replacement sites are listed on "Popular Apps & Websites to Buy or Sell Collectibles, Household Goods, and More" on Kovels.com.

Q: I have a Boston Red Sox Hall of Famer Ted Williams original beer stein. He was known in baseball as "The Splendid Sprinter." All his statistics are printed on the bottom. Can you tell me how much it's worth?  

Ted Williams was one of baseball's greatest players. His image and statistics were printed on many types of collectibles, including root beer bottles. Baseball player images and logos are easily reproduced. Watch out for fakes that can look as good as the originals. A stein similar to yours with a certificate of authenticity recently sold for $20.

Q: I discovered a green glass vase with a Rosenthal mark and signed Tapio Wirkkala. I did some searching and found it is vase no. 2512, a 1963 design. It's 5 1/2 inches tall. Can you give me more information and an idea of value?

Tapio Wirkkala (1915-1985) was a Finnish designer of glassware, silver, ceramics, wooden ware, furniture, jewelry, textiles and more. He designed for several companies and opened his own studio in 1955. Wirkkala designed tableware for Rosenthal from 1956 to 1985 and glass items from 1963 to 1981. At least 18 different glass items were made. Vase 2512 was made in two sizes. Wirkkala vases have sold for just over $100 to more than $1,000. A 12 3/4-inch vase auctioned recently for about $125 and a 17 1/2-inch vase for about $325.

TIP: If you have an old carving set and the steel sharpener is stained, do not worry. It will still work, and it's safe to use with knives that touch food.  

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, (Farm Forum), King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803 or email us at collectorsgallery@kovels.com.