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Kovels: Elaborately carved Anglo-Indian furniture still a bargain

Collectors in the 1950s usually wanted furniture and accessories in earlier styles, or perhaps a piece that represented the family’s background, like a German stein or English china.

But today collectors can see and buy items from all over the world on the Internet, and auctions have become more international.

Carved wooden furniture from 18th- and 19th-century China, painted chests from Scandinavia and “Black Forest” benches and tables with large, carved bears from Switzerland (although they were first sold as German) were not bought to use in many homes.

Now interior designers and collectors want something “different” to decorate modern homes. Anglo-Indian furniture that’s elaborately carved still is a bargain because it is not well-known.

The British East India Co. explored the world, and had created industries in many ports by the 1700s. There was profitable trade in both Chinese and Indian furniture made for the British market.

Samples of popular British chair styles, like Chippendale and Queen Anne, were sent to workmen in India to copy, and British tradesmen were sent to train Indian workers. The resulting furniture was a blend of cultures: British shapes and Indian woods like teak, ebony or rosewood.

An inlay of ivory or silver was used on expensive pieces. An entire piece might be carved with a lacelike frame filled with birds and flowers. There are many records of shipments of Anglo-Indian furniture, but little documented history. There even were complaints from British cabinetmakers that the quantity of imported furniture was harming their business.

Today, an average Anglo-Indian carved chair in good condition made before 1900 auctions for $150 to $300. Small center tables go for $500 or more. When you buy, be sure any damage is minor and can be repaired, because the carvings often break.

Q: My wife recently acquired a metal mechanical bank titled “Monkey Bank.” It’s 7¼ inches long. A monkey sits on one end, and an organ grinder on the other. When you put a coin in the monkey’s mouth and press the lever behind him, the monkey flies forward and “deposits” the coin into the organ held by the organ grinder. Do you know the age or value?

A: The original Monkey Bank you describe was produced by the Hubley Manufacturing Co. of Lancaster, Pa., probably in the 1920s. Originals, however, are nearly 9 inches long. Reproductions abound. Some were produced using molds made from original banks, which is why the copies are smaller than originals. An original Monkey Bank recently sold for close to $600. Copies sell for $15 to $25.

Q: I have a blue-and-white beaded purse with a metal clasp and chain. It’s needlepoint with cut steel beads. It was my grandmother’s, so it must be 60-80 years old. Does it have any value, and where can I sell it?

A: Beaded purses were popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Many were imported from Europe. Beadwork was a popular form of needlework, and directions for making beaded bags were printed in women’s magazines.

Beaded purses are still popular fashion accessories and are made by some well-known designers today. Any vintage clothing store will be interested in your beaded purse if it’s in good condition. Price depends on style, intricacy of the design and condition. Good purses sell for $150 to $250, while exceptional examples have brought about $800.

Q: I have a Heineken beer mug marked “Blue Delfts” on the bottom. I thought it ought to say “Delft.” Do I have a fake?

A: That depends on what you mean by “fake.” You don’t have an antique piece of Dutch delft pottery. They are not marked the way yours is. And while Heineken beer has been around for more than a century, blue-and-white pottery with that brand name on the front was made as giftware much more recently. Your mug might not even have been made in Holland. A mug like yours sells online for about $10.

Q: My mother gave me three nun figurines. The bottom of each figurine is marked “Dave Grossman Designs, copyright 1971, MEM.” Two of the figurines also have paper stickers that read “Made in Japan.” Can you provide any information on these figurines and their value?

A: David Grossman opened his company in Hazelwood, Mo., in 1968. The company made figurines, limited editions, music boxes, ornaments and snow globes. Some of the popular series of figurines made by Dave Grossman include Norman Rockwell, “Gone With the Wind” and “The Wizard of Oz.”

The company was one of several sued by Warner Brothers for copyright and trademark infringement because Grossman used characters from Warner Brothers movies and cartoons. The suit was settled in 2014. The value of your figurines is about $10 each.

Tip: Don’t leave vinyl tablecloths or rubber or plastic placemats on a wooden tabletop for a long time. They may react with the finish and cause damage.

For more information about antiques and collectibles and free price information, visit Kovel’s website, www.kovels.com.

Kim and Terry Kovel answer as many questions as possible through the column. By sending a letter with a question, you give full permission for use in the column or any other Kovel forum. We cannot guarantee the return of photographs, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The amount of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovels, The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.

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