Bargains found in unusual antique furniture styles

Terry Kovel
Look for unusual styles of furniture to get a bargain. The heavy, old timbers and craftsmanship of an antique is why it is still in good condition and can take hard use. This table is in the Elizabethan style, 400 years old, and still going strong.

Everything has a name, but in the antiques world, many things have more than one name. This table was offered for sale as a "guard room table." That is a made-up name for a table that looks like it might have been used by guards for eating, drinking and gambling in a castle a few hundred years ago. It is a table in the Elizabethan style (1553-1603, named for Queen Elizabeth I).

Tables from that era are made of wood, usually walnut or oak. They are large, about 30 by 83 inches, and heavy with thick, strong legs, often heavily carved. Today, they are usually used in a large paneled room in a men's club or hotel. Some of the tables, like this one, have iron trestles used for strength between the end pairs of legs.

They sell for surprisingly low prices for furniture that looks like it was made at least 400 years ago. They list for $800 to $4,000, depending on condition and proportions. This table was estimated at $700 to $1,000. 

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Q. I have a figurine that looks exactly like the Hummel figurine of St. Jude, but it's white. I can only find ones that are colored. Do I have a fake or a real one? 

A: Hummel figurines are based on drawings by Sister Maria Innocentia Hummel, a nun in Germany. The figurines were first produced in 1935 by W. Goebel Porcelain Factory of Oeslau (now Rodental),  Germany. They were extremely popular after WWII, and hundreds of figurines were made and collected. They made other figurines, but only those that are the children drawn by Sister Maria can be called Hummels. There have been changes in company name and ownership, but Hummel figurines are still being produced in Rodental, now by Hummel Manufaktur. The Hummel figure of St. Jude has him holding a staff in one hand and a holy relic in the other. This is a common image that has been made by other manufacturers. If your figurine is real, it will have a Hummel mark on the bottom. If it's not marked, it's a fake. All Hummels are now very low priced, and religious figures are not popular. Your figure is probably Goebel but not Hummel. It is worth about $50.

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Q. I found an old wardrobe steamer trunk in an attic and can't find any information on it. It has its key, four pull-out drawers, hangers and the pull-out closet rod as well as the original hardware. It was sold by Stewart & Co. in Baltimore. The tags on it say it belonged to a doctor. I'd like a value to see if it's worth restoring. 

A. Wardrobe trunks are large upright trunks fitted with hangers, drawers and storage areas for shoes and other items so a traveler could take all the clothes needed for a long trip by steamship or train. They aren't popular with collectors today because they are too big and heavy to store or display easily. They are hard to sell unless by a famous maker. Stewart & Co. department store opened about 1900, so your trunk is from the turn of the century. If there is no maker's name, it is an ordinary trunk, probably not worth restoring unless you want to use it. Even restored, it would probably sell for less than $100. A famous name-brand trunk sells for as much as $10,000 (Vuitton) or $1,500 (Bottega Veneta).

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Q. I own an Arnart set of six saucers and five teacups with a courting scene on them. I found an identical set online made by Royal Vienna. Why and how did two different manufacturers make identical items? Is my Arnart set comparable in desirability, quality and price to the Royal Vienna set? Is it better to sell as a set of five each and sell the extra place separately, or to sell all six plates and five cups together?

A. Arnart Creations, later called Arnart Imports Inc., was an importer in business in New York from 1953 to 2001. Most items were imported from Japan, although some came from England and Germany, and later most were made in Taiwan. Arnart was one of many companies that used a "beehive" mark similar to the mark used by the Imperial and Royal Porcelain Manufactory of Vienna. Collectors sometimes call porcelain by that company "Royal Vienna," but the company did not mark its porcelain with those words. The beehive is actually an upside-down shield, part of the royal family crest. The words "Royal Vienna" were used by several factories to denote the style. Arnart cups and saucers sell for about $40-$50 for a set of five. Your best bet is to sell the five sets of cups and saucers and then try to sell the single saucer separately or give it as a bonus.

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Q. I just found an old beer can that is decorated with Japanese and English words. It has "Sari Saurus Draft Beer" and a round logo in the center and some Asian writing in smaller words at the bottom of the front of the can. When do you think this might have been made?

A. Canadian beer was made and shipped to the Far East in the 1990s. There were many American brands and special brands with names that sounded Japanese. The Canadian beer wasn't shipped after the early 2000s. These cans are very rare because they all were made for export, but there may be some in the Far East where there are few beer can collectors.

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TIP: Clean metal with a back-and-forth motion, not a circular motion. Use a soft, clean, lint-free cloth and turn it often to avoid reusing a soiled part.

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Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions. 

Van Briggle vase, Lorelei, woman, hair flows over rim, white matte glaze, 11 x 5 inches, $190.

Tortoise shell jewelry box, beveled glass insert, ivory bun feet, c.1900, 2 x 6 inches, $265.

Kettle-on-stand, copper, embossed, cast, spirit burner, handle, turned, ebony, geometric design, WMK Co., 13 x 7 inches, $320.

Window, leaded, stained, Gothic, blue columns, brown arched window, purple panels, cabochon, 72 x 28 inches, $480.

Wedgwood plaque, jasperware, Medusa, blue, gold frame, round, c. 1780, 6 inches, $600.

Strausbourg group, spring, man, bagpipes, woman, seated, basket, flowers, tree, leaves, grass, c. 1750, 9 inches, $920.

Icon, Virgin of Tikhvin, child, silver filigree, enamel, flowers, leaves, Russia, c. 1896, 9 x 7 inches, $1,280.

Newcomb College Pottery vase, moon, moss, blue, Anna Frances Simpson, c. 1922, 5 x 3 1/2 inches, $1,920.

Roseville vase, Falline, molded pea pods, red, green blue, horizontal ribbing, handles, 9 1/4 x 8 inches, $1,410.

Sideboard, George III, mahogany, satinwood, inlay, bow front, casters, 6 drawers, 2 doors, 35 x 107 inches, $3,000.

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There is hidden value in contemporary pottery. You can find it at shops and garage sales for low prices because the marks are unknown. Kovels special report "Kovels' Identification Guide to Contemporary American Pottery: 1960s to Present" includes more than 180 marks and 60 featured artists. Each artist's biography includes a mark, a pictured piece and this year's price. Learn about Robert Arneson, Jack Eugene Earl, Henry Takemoto and others. Recognize the newest pottery when you see it at a flea market or garage sale. Available only from Kovels for $19.95 plus $4.95 postage and handling. Order by phone at 800-303-1996; online at; or mail to Kovels, P.O. Box 22900, Beachwood, OH 44122.