Antique mixing tables were used to mix drinks

Terry And Kim Kovel
Kovel’s Antiques And Collecting

“Antique mixing table” is what the auction catalog said. Meant to mix what? How did you use it? When was it made? Where did it belong in the house? An online search was no help. Today the name “mixing table” refers to the electronic consoles that are used to create music recordings. A search of several large modern dictionaries, books on period furniture and more online searching got pictures but no explanation. But there was a clue. The auction’s piece was probably made by Anthony Quervelle (1789-1856). He was a popular furniture maker who worked in Philadelphia about 1815. He specialized in carved wooden, usually mahogany, pieces in the Classical style.

The mixing table was used in a Southern dining room to mix drinks. There were special shelves to store bottles. Its marble, not mahogany, top was less likely to be stained if a drink was spilled. The top of the table was 40 inches from the floor, the perfect serving height. To add to the room’s decoration, mixing tables were made with decorative scrolls and panels. A Neal Auction in New Orleans sold a mixing table attributed to Quervelle for $3,200. Several other similar tables sold in the past few years for a comparable price.

Q Do the markings “China” or “Made in China” help in determining the age?

A The words printed on the bottom of ceramics help date the piece. The country of origin was required to be marked on ceramics imported into the United States after the McKinley Tariff Act was passed in 1891. The words “Made in” were usually used after 1915. England required “Made in” and the name of the country of origin on imported ware beginning in 1887.

Q I have a collection of picture postcards by Raphael Tuck & Sons published before 1914. Do they have some value or are they just ordinary postcards?

A Raphael Tuck (1821-1900) and his wife opened a shop in London selling pictures and frames in 1866. He soon began selling lithograph prints made in Germany. The company began making postcards in 1894. Early postcards had the address on one side and the picture and message on the other side. Divided-back cards, larger cards with bigger pictures on one side and the message and address on the other, were allowed in England in 1902 and in the United States in 1907. After World War I broke out in 1914, cards for the North American market were printed in England and the Netherlands instead of Germany. Prices of postcards depend on the artist, manufacturer and subject. Famous people, advertising, disasters, World’s Fairs and expositions, patriotic themes, and holidays, especially Halloween and Christmas, add value. If you want to sell your postcards, go to a postcard show to see what Tuck postcards are selling. Mention your collection to collectors and dealers at the show, but expect to get about 50% of what they will sell them for. Don’t let buyers pick out the best cards and leave you with those that are less desirable and harder to sell if you want to sell your entire collection. Ordinary postcards sell by the box at flea markets and house sales. Most postcards are worth under a dollar. Raphael Tuck cards are old and popular with collectors.

Q I have a set of dishes: Greenwood, Old Ivory, Syracuse China. There are eight place settings that include dinner plates, soup bowls, salad plates, bread plates, cups and saucers. There is also a meat platter, serving dish and gravy boat. There are 51 pieces in all. They are pristine, no chips. Is the set valuable or should I offer it to my granddaughters?

A Syracuse China is a trademark used by Onondaga Pottery of Syracuse, New York, beginning about 1893. The company changed its name to Syracuse China Corporation in 1966. Syracuse China closed in 2009. Greenwood pattern dinnerware was made from 1949 to 1967. You can find asking prices for individual pieces of Syracuse Greenwood dinnerware online. Sets of dishes are hard to sell and difficult to pack and ship. Offer them to your granddaughters as part of your family heirlooms. Dinner plates sell at retail for $10.

Q How much is a deck of playing cards from Air Force One worth? The cards have a facsimile signature of President Lyndon B. Johnson.

A In 1933 Franklin D. Roosevelt became the first president to travel in an airplane. His successor, President Harry Truman, was the first to give decks of playing cards to VIPs and guests who flew on the presidential plane. The presidential plane was not called Air Force One until 1953. The tradition of giving playing cards continued, except under President Carter, who thought the giveaway was a waste of taxpayer’s money. The first playing cards to include the president’s signature were those given by Johnson in the 1960s. Unopened decks, still in their cellophane wrap, are worth more than decks that have been opened and used. Prices for memorabilia from some presidents are more than those from others. Recent prices for President Johnson’s Air Force One playing cards include a boxed set of two unopened decks for $125 and a boxed set with two decks that have been opened for $50.

TIP: Sap bleeds from the knots in old wood and it stains the paint. This discoloration is one way to determine if paint is old.