October 19, 2021

Antiques & Collecting: Step stool helped climb into bed

Did you know someone invented a self-making bed? It requires special covers and sheets, but with the push of a button, they curl up into the “made” position. Quite an improvement from the first known bed, 77,000 years ago, when the whole family slept on one thick pile of plants.

The ancient Egyptians had a raised wooden bed with cushions and sheets. By Roman times, there were low metal beds with feather or straw mattresses.

But by the 15th century, beds were important. They were on a frame with four posters high off the floor, so they could use heavy drapes to enclose the bed to keep out cold air and bugs.

Beds were so high that a step stool was needed to climb on top. The mattress was a bag of hay, which probably explains why going to bed was called “hitting the hay.”

Bedrooms also became more important. They were used for meetings. And not only family, but also servants, slept in the room, some under the bed on a mat.

The idea of privacy came by the 18th century, when the bed had a metal frame and a cotton-stuffed mattress and only one or two people slept in it.

The 19th century saw more changes. The posts were lowered, so a step stool wasn’t needed. The footboard was smaller, and the smaller frame held metal box springs. The 1960s introduced the foam mattress and once again, the bed was easier to get into.

The antique chair step stool can still be found at auctions. These Federal bird’s-eye maple steps, made in New England, were estimated at $2,000 to $3,000 at a Stair Galleries sale.

I grabbed a huge silver-colored pineapple at the opening of a house sale. I discovered that the top opens, and it is lined with white plastic. It is marked M.M. Firenze. I think it’s an ice bucket. I paid $25. Did I get a bargain?

Yes. You bought an Italian ice bucket made in the late 1960s by Fonderia d’Arte. The company made silver colored barware with gold colored trim designed by Mauro Manetti. Examples of this popular aluminum ice bucket have sold in recent years for $400 to $1,000.

Current Prices

Coca-Cola, toy delivery truck, Volkswagen, tin lithograph, logo, yellow & red, plastic bottles in cases, friction, marked, Made in Western Germany, 5 x 9 inches, $600.

Jewelry, pin, jadeite plaque, oval, carved openwork flowers & birds, 14K gold, seed pearl sides, green & black enamel detail, art deco, Cartier, 1 x 1 1/4 inches, $1,353.

Doll, Girl with 2 Faces, smiling & screaming, papier-mâché, mohair wig, wood & composition body, pull strings, says “Mama” and “Papa,” Bebe Jumeau, 18 inches, $4,920.

Tip: To get more light in a room and make the room look larger, mount a mirror opposite a window.

Terry and Kim Kovel

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