Ask Antique Trader: Primitive New England scrub boards worth $250

Aesthetic Period glass plate  Aesthetic Period glass plate

Q I bought this 10-inch plate in an auction recently and am wondering just what it is and what it might be worth. With so many different patterns on one plate it looks like a “salesman’s sample” demonstrating the various patterns you could have on a plate. Any help you can give me would be appreciated. – C.L.B., via email

A It’s easy to see why you’d think your glass plate would be made only to show off various patterns. But to the late 19th century Aesthetic Movement artisans who created it, the plate was just another day’s work. This plate is from a series of specialty plates made in England. It is an excellent example of the seemingly schizophrenic Aesthetic style of mashing up various patterns, motifs and textures. This one has a lot going on with Japanese, Greek, Chinese influence. Since the Aesthetic Movement occurred in the middle of the Industrial Revolution, there’s no shortage of ceramics. However, glass items are a different story. Your plate is easily worth $125 in the right shop.

[See more about the art of the Aesthetic Movement.]

Primitive scrub boards  Primitive New England scrub boards.

Q These pictures are of two separate wooden devices. One is larger, and more heavy duty (perhaps for a man – or for tougher work) the other smaller and “lighter weight (perhaps for a woman or child – or more delicate work). They came from a shed or barn in New Hampshire, which was built by a man who was a member of either the first or second initial Congress from N.H. It is the property of a lady who purchased the home from descendants of the original builder. I think they are for scrubbing clothes or maybe tanning leather or …

Any ideas of use, name, history, value or how she can sell them would be deeply appreciated.

The lady is 92 years old and was one of the few women who flew WWII Army airplanes in the U.S. and to England, thus freeing male pilots for combat. Thank you. – S.B., via email

A Your guess was correct. You found two scrub boards, which were probably made in the late 1700s based on the handle design, wear and the amount of insect damage. These boards were carved from a single section of wood. It’s believed the form originated in Scandinavia several centuries ago. The ridges allowed dirty clothes to be lathered up and the long boards could also be used to stir pans of water or to beat blankets or quilts.

These were used until the “great American invention,” the fluted zinc wash board, was patented in 1833 by Stephen Rust of Manlius, N.Y.

Each is in great condition and are worth about $100 to $125 to a collector of New England primitives. Send our regards to the owner; maybe she should sell them and buy some notebooks to write all about her adventures as a lady pilot in WWII!

Antique Trader Editor Eric  Bradley  Eric Bradley


Eric Bradley is editor of Antique Trader magazine, author of the Antique Trader Antiques & Collectibles 2012 Price Guide, 28th edition (816 pages, available at 800-258-0929 or and the former producer of the Atlantique City Antiques & Collectibles Show.


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