July 25, 2021

Antiques & Collecting: Drop-leaf desk

All American furniture was handmade before the 1800s, and old furniture was saved until it was too battered to use. The United States was a young country, and the first collector of note was an eccentric man in the 1800s who saved furniture and objects made or used in the 1600s and after.

By the late 1700s, the rich were decorating in styles that copied English styles, but with pieces made in America. Wealthy collectors bought antiques if they did not have any from the family. By the 1900s, less expensive copies were made by a few companies.

The 1940s were the start of the demand for exact copies of museum pieces. Only an expert could notice the difference and recognize modern tool marks. Many homes were decorated in Chippendale or other old styles.

Baker Furniture started in 1903 as Cook, Baker & Co. The name was changed to Baker Furniture Factories Inc. in 1927. It changed owners seven times, but still used the Baker name as it does today.

The company made different styles as decorating tastes changed. The earliest lines were Golden Oak and Mission. By 1923, Baker was making reproductions of Duncan Phyfe. Then it added other 18th-century wooden pieces.

In 1925, Baker started “The Twentieth Century Shop,” using rosewood and olive burl, eventually using pieces by midcentury designers like Donald Deskey and, in 1951, Danish Modern by Finn Juhl. Baker continued to make reproductions for Colonial Williamsburg and other historic sites labeled with their names.

Today some early reproductions sell for about the same price as an average antique piece. This Biedermeier “secretaire a abattant” has a “Baker” label. It sold for $1,063 at a Neal auction in 2019.

What is goofus glass?

Goofus glass is a type of pressed or mold-blown glass made from about 1900 to 1920 by several American factories. It was the first “carnival glass,” an inexpensive glass given away at carnivals, movie theaters, gas stations and other businesses. The glass was cold painted in bright colors and originally sold under names like “Egyptian Art,” “Golden Oriental” and other exotic names.

The colors weren’t fired on, and they flaked off after repeated washing. Because of this, people began calling it by less flattering names. There are several stories about how it got the name “Goofus glass,” but no one knows for sure where the name came from.

Current Prices

Redware jar, manganese glaze, cylindrical, pinched neck, wide flared mouth, stamped “D. Cope” on base, 8 1/2 inches, $83.

Sterling silver sugar tongs, bright cut leaves, monogram, James Kendall, Wilmington, Delaware, 1790-1800, 6 inches, pair, $295.

Buck Rogers pin, blue, Buster Crabbe, space helmet, rocket ship, back paper, 1939, 1 1/4 inches, $650.

Poster, travel, Cuba, Braniff International Airways, stylized man playing bongos, lithograph, 1950s, 26 x 20 inches, $840.

Tip: Never try to play a disc on your music box that was not made for that box. The machine will be damaged and the disc ruined.

Terry and Kim Kovel

For more collecting news, tips and resources, visit www.Kovels.com. © 2021 King Features Synd., Inc.