Sometimes it is difficult to understand antique furniture

Terry And Kim Kovel
Kovel’s Antiques And Collecting

Sometimes it is difficult to understand antique furniture that has outlived its usefulness, like a linen press or a Hoosier cabinet. People younger than 50 years old probably wouldn’t recognize a telephone stand, an ice box or a milk chute. Even more confusing is a round table that was called a wine tasting table in the 1960s, but was probably never used when tasting wine. The table has a round or oval top with a hinge mechanism underneath that can be released to tilt the top to a screen position. There are circular depressions carved in the top to “keep the wine bottle secure,” according to an old dictionary. But the depressions are two or three times the size of a wine bottle’s base. Now, the tilt-top table with depressions is known to be a breakfast, supper, tea or dessert table that held plates, cups, saucers and food for a meal. People ate alone then, not at a family breakfast table. The top was 1 to 5 feet in diameter. A 19th-century George III-style table with recessed sections was auctioned recently at New Orleans Auction Gallery. It was 3 feet in diameter and had nine recessed circles. Listed as a tripod table (three-part leg) with a floriform top, it was estimated at $1,200 to $1,800.

Q Any information you can give me on my Hires Root Beer sign would be greatly appreciated. It pictures a child with a package of Hires Root Beer drink extract.

A Charles E. Hires didn’t invent the beverage called “root beer,” but he did make it famous. Hires Root Beer was introduced at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. It was originally sold as a powder that was mixed with carbonated water. By 1893, it was also sold in pre-mixed bottles. Hires was advertised as “good for all,” giving “New Life to Old Folks, Pleasure to the Parents and Health to the Children,” and their advertising trade cards pictured young and healthy kids. Your sign is a die-cut three-dimensional cardboard sign from the early 1890s to about 1900. It pictures a baby girl with a white, pinny-style bib attached to her pink dress with blue bows. The baby’s left leg is hinged to allow it to move backward so the baby can appear to be crawling. The head is slotted at the neck so it can move back and forth. Display signs like this were often given to merchants if they purchased a certain quantity of product. An estimate for your sign is $600 to $700.

Q One of the drawer pulls to my wife’s Clark’s O.N.T. spool cabinet is missing. I’m trying to locate one like it. The backplates are embossed “O.N.T.” Can you help?

A Some online sites offer similar replacement drawer pulls. Although they aren’t marked “O.N.T.,” the style is very similar, and they might be an acceptable substitute. Some sites that sell similar drawer pulls are and, and there are other sites that sell all sorts of used hardware for antiques.

Q I have a porcelain figurine of two horses and I’m wondering what it’s worth. It’s marked with a lion over the initials “L.H.S” and “Hutschenreuther, Selb, Germany, Kunstabteilung.” Below that it’s impressed “K. Tutter.” What can you tell me about it?

A The initials “L.H.S.” stand for Lorenz Hutschenreuther, Selb. He established the Hutschenreuther factory in Selb, Germany, in 1857. “Kunstabteilung” is the German word for “Art Department.” The impressed mark is for Karl Tutter, who started as a modeler at Hutschenreuther in 1922 and eventually became the art director. This Hutschenreuther mark was used from 1955 to 1968. Tutter retired in 1956, so your horse figurine must have been made in 1955 or ‘56.

Q I have a four-eyed drunken sailor bottle opener that I first saw about 1960. It was screwed to the wall of my grandparent’s garage. It’s made of cast iron but there’s no paint left on it. It’s a face with a bald head, four eyes, a handlebar mustache and an open mouth with protruding teeth that are the bottle opener. I can’t find one exactly like it.

A This novelty bottle opener has been made for years and newer ones are easy to find. Some claim to be made in the original British molds from about 1900. Many copies have been made since then and they are still being made. New ones sell for $15-$20. Old ones are about $25 with good paint. It isn’t possible to estimate the value of your bottle opener since you said it’s not like the common version, but it wouldn’t be worth much since the paint is worn off.

TIP: The spine on a book should always be flush with the edge of the shelf.

Names of antiques change as their original use is forgotten. This table used to be called a wine-tasting table, but today we know it was a small table used to serve breakfast or tea. It is worth about $1,500.