Alabama folk art and quilters inspire colorful cabinet

Terry Kovel
The influence of quilting is clear in the colorful blocks that make up the doors of this steel cabinet. It sold for $1,400 at Palm Beach Modern Auctions' Modern + Contemporary Art & Design auction.

If the colorful panels on this cabinet remind you of a patchwork quilt, that's exactly what the artist wanted. Jim Rose makes furniture and art objects out of aged steel. His work is original and innovative, and his inspiration comes from centuries-old American styles like folk art and Shaker furniture. 

This "Quilt" cabinet, which sold at Palm Beach Modern Auctions for $1,400, was inspired by quilts made in Gee's Bend, Alabama. Gee's Bend is a largely isolated community on the Alabama River. Its African-American residents preserve the cultural traditions of their ancestors. Quilting originated in the bedcovers made in the early 19th century.

Gee's Bend quilts feature colorful designs made from rectangular strips or triangular pieces of fabric. Some follow traditional patterns; others have informal, abstract designs. Jim Rose created similar patterns in steel and wood for many of his works, including this cabinet. 

Question: I'd like some information about a pottery lazy Susan I bought at a charity shop. There's a small, round bowl in the center surrounded by four quarter-circle sections. The center bowl and two sections are turquoise, and the other two sections are white. They sit on a wooden lazy Susan base. The pottery is marked "Classica-Original Made in U.S.A." Can you tell me who made this and when it was made? 

Answer: Your lazy Susan was made by California Originals. The company started in 1945 in Manhattan Beach, California, and made figurines under the name Heirlooms of Tomorrow. In the 1950s, the company moved to Torrance, California, and the name was changed to California Originals. Ashtrays, cookie jars, housewares and giftware were made. Your lazy Susan was a party dish that could be filled with dip, chips and vegetables. A lazy Susan in good condition sells for about $30. 

Q: We are donating a piano to a nonprofit organization. It is labeled as follows: Crown; Geo. Bent; Chicago; Orchestral Grand. The interior plate has the serial number 32757 and there is a penciled autograph, "Hugo Frey Oct. 7, 1937." 

My wife received the piano as a gift about 1957 when she was a kindergarten teacher in a Minneapolis public school. Does the signature add any value for the receiving organization? 

A: Crown pianos were made in Chicago by George P. Bent. Based on the serial number given, your upright piano was made in 1904. The "Orchestral Grand" name was a marketing tactic due to features on the upright piano that enabled it to mimic the sounds of other instruments. Hugo Frey (1873-1952) was a trained musician and American composer known for simplifying music arrangements. His signature likely adds no additional value to the piano. 

Q: The other day, two of my snow globes broke. They each hold a special meaning, and I would like them fixed. One is a music box snow globe while the other is a simple snow globe. They both seem to need nothing more than their globes replaced. Do you know of a place that can fix a snow globe, or even someone I could speak with that might know something? 

A: If the globes are glass, they can be replaced. You can find places that repair snow globes by searching online for snow globe repair or by searching the business directory on our website, Replacement globes and "snowflakes" are available online. A toy and hobby store, a doll hospital or a store that sells craft supplies might also be a source.

Q: Does "Victorian furniture" refer to a style or the time period it was made?

A: "Victorian" is the time period from 1840 to 1900. Several different styles were popular during this period, all characterized by ornate decoration. The mid-to-late-19th century saw the development of new tools like jigsaws that allowed designers to cover wooden furniture with scrolls, curls and other carved patterns. New manufacturing techniques like mass production also emerged in this time, making pieces like this cheaper and accessible to consumers. Dark woods like rosewood and mahogany were popular.

Further embellishments came from veneers, inlay and marble tops. The Centennial Exposition in 1876 introduced Americans to Japonisme, popular from 1876 to 1885, and inspired the Colonial Revival. Many American designers created their own styles, like Eastlake, Golden Oak and rustic furniture. All of these styles can be called Victorian. Watch out for "Victorian style" in descriptions, though. "Victorian" on its own can mean the time period, but "style" indicates a later copy.

TIP: You can safely store an old quilt by putting it on an unused bed and covering it with a plain coverlet.


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. 

Toy, airplane, metal, red wings with star decals, blue body, yellow underside, propeller on front, wings fold, Kiddie Toy, Hubley, c. 1960, $25.

Doll, Hasbro, Sweet Cookie, painted face, blue eyes, open mouth, top teeth, blond wig, blue checked dress, apron, recipe book, mixer, bowls, spoons, measuring cups, 1972, 17 ½ inches, $70.

Jewelry, pin, red velvet petals, composite berry cluster, marked, Chanel, France, box, 3 ¾ x 3 ½ inches, $190.

Lamp, electric, figural, Cupid with arrow, gilt metal, round base, embroidered shade, fringe ends, glass finial, square marble plinth, mid-20th century, 30 x 15 inches, $300.

Textile, lace, symmetrical, two seated figures, flowering vine, angels and birds, rabbits alternate with flowers around border, signed, dated, Bete Peters, 1781, frame, 21 x 29 ½ inches, $440.

Glass goblet set, flutes, cranberry glass foot, four lobes, raised gilding, leafy scrolls and flowers, c. 1900, 6 ¼ inches, 12 pieces, $445.

Decoy, swan, head turned, preening position, wood, painted, white, black beak, glass eyes, signed, JP, 7 ½ x 16 inches, $500.

Sports card, basketball, LeBron James, rookie, Cleveland Cavaliers, Draft Pick, Topps, No. 221, 2003, $555.

Watch, Flore, hunting case, 14K gold, gold tone dial, Arabic numerals, seconds dial, Swiss hallmarks, 2 ¾ x 2 inches, $770.

Furniture, bookcase cabinet, Classical Gothic, cherry, burl, tiger maple, poplar, top with arched doors and side panels, molded cornice, lower case with butler's desk over two cabinet doors, inlaid bone escutcheons, 1820-40, 95 x 45 ½ x 24 inches, $1,280.