October 16, 2021

Antiques & Collecting: Tilt-top table has many names

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 with a floriform top, it was estimated at $1,200 to $1,800.

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.

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 to $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.

Current Prices

Child's chair, wood, painted, bellflowers, red ground, yellow & black trim, shaped crest & splat, Penn., c. 1885, 19 1/4 inches, $70.

Satsuma vase, gilt, chrysanthemums, orange, green, white highlights, high shoulder, short neck, 8 1/2 inches, $160.

Cloisonne teapot, cobalt blue, flowers, vases, teacups, potted tree, hexagonal, bail handle, 8 1/2 inches, $260.

Sampler, verse, "Lord of the lower world," leaves, butterflies, Adam, Eve, 20 1/2 inches, $420.

Tip: Don't put a decorative runner or vase on your wooden table if it is in sunlight. Eventually the finish will fade around the ornaments and leave a shadow of the items on the wood.

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