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Published May 18, 2012, 12:00 AM

Kovels Antiques: Chairs made of horns have unique charm

Furniture has been made from carved and joined pieces of wood for centuries, but in every century there are a few designers who are intrigued by the forms of nature and use them to create furniture.

By: By Terry Kovel, INFORUM

Furniture has been made from carved and joined pieces of wood for centuries, but in every century there are a few designers who are intrigued by the forms of nature and use them to create furniture.

Chairs made of curved horns are one of these furniture forms. During the 19th century, horn chairs were made in many countries, perhaps because curved cow horns or strangely shaped antlers reminded some furniture makers of the curved and carved furniture popular during Victorian times.

In the United States, most of these chairs were made in the Western states. It was possible to buy quantities of Texas longhorn horns at slaughterhouses in meat-packing cities. The horns were joined together to make a back, arms, legs and part of the upholstered seat. It took at least 12 horns to assemble a simple chair and almost 30 for a complicated chair. The horns had to be polished by hand. In other locations, furniture makers used antlers from local antelope, moose or elk.

The chairs made in the West were large, Victorian in style and composed of many horns. Horn chairs from Europe, particularly Germany, were made to resemble traditional 19th-century chairs and included light-colored antlers with protruding points. Seats were upholstered with leather. All horn chairs are now described as “in the rustic taste.” There are a few firms making horn chairs today.

Q: I have several pieces of “old Lenox” china. Some are marked with a blue Lenox

“L-in-wreath” logo, others with a brown or green logo. Did the company use marks of different colors during different years?

A: Walter Scott Lenox took control of the Ceramic Art Co. of Trenton, N.J., in the mid-1890s and changed the company’s name to Lenox Inc. in 1906. That’s the year Lenox started using the L-in-wreath mark. Between 1906 and 1930, Lenox usually used a green wreath mark. But during the same time period, unfortunately, it also used wreath marks that were blue, red, black or gold. The gold wreath became Lenox’s standard mark in the early 1950s.

Q: We paid $2 for an 8-inch Wagner skillet at an auction. The molded words on the bottom are not like the wording on our other Wagner cookware. Our other Wagner pieces are marked “Wagner Ware, Sidney.” This one, in a different style of lettering, reads “Wagner’s 1891 Original Cast Iron Cookware.” Under that, there’s a list of “Seasoning Instructions.” What can you tell us?

A: Your skillet was made in the early 1990s by General Housewares Corp. of Terre Haute, Ind., to promote Wagner’s 100th anniversary. Wagner Manufacturing Co. was founded in Sidney, Ohio, in 1891. Wagner became a division of the Randall Co. of Cincinnati in the early 1950s, and in 1959 Randall was acquired by Textron Inc. of Providence, R.I. Ten years later, Textron sold Wagner to General Housewares, which sold the Wagner factory in 1997. The factory closed in 1999, just a few years after making anniversary wares like your skillet. If you paid only $2 for it, you did all right. We have seen Wagner anniversary skillets selling for $10 to $20.

Q: I still have the first and second Kovels’ “Complete Antique Price List.” Do they have any collectible value?

A: We would love to say “yes.” Our first two annual price guides were published in 1968 and 1969, and we think they’re classics. But while they provide a fascinating look at the antiques and collectibles marketplace of 40 years ago, used copies aren’t selling for more than about $8 apiece.

Q: I own close to 900 vinyl jazz records from the 1950s through the 1980s. Where can I sell them? The artists include Stan Kenton, Stan Getz, Count Basie, Phil Woods, Charlie Parker, Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond. Many of the records have never been released on CD.

A: Vinyl records are tricky to sell. Most sell for very little. But some records, including some jazz records, sell for a lot. Do some research before you try selling. Visit a vintage record shop in your area and talk to the owner or knowledgeable salespeople. You also can consult collectors via the International Association of Jazz Record Collectors, JAJRC.org, which publishes a journal for collectors. Another publication for record collectors is Goldmine (GoldmineMag.org). Do some comparison shopping online, then contact stores and collectors in your area or online.

Q: At a local estate sale, I paid $45 for a small floor-model reed organ called a “harmonium.” The brand name on the key cover is “Imperiale” and the back is marked “Made in Japan.” I am having the instrument restored. Can you help me figure out maker, age and value?

A: Harmoniums were invented in the 19th century. One version of the instrument was patented in 1840. From the late 1800s into the 1930s, they often were purchased for home use or for small churches. The Imperiale brand dates from a later decade of the 20th century, perhaps as late as the 1960s. The brand was made by the Marco Polo Japan Corp.


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

Kovel answers 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 Kovel forum. We cannot guarantee the return of any photograph, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The volume of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovel, The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.

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