Ask Antique Trader: Washstand found under mattress worth $250

Q Recently, we bought a 19th-century farmhouse. While we were remodeling, we discovered this odd wood stand in the basement. It is in surprisingly good condition, considering it was hidden under a pile of wood and an old mattress. It does have a few age cracks and traces of blue paint. However, what puzzles us is why there is a cutout hole in the top. What was the purpose of this piece of furniture? How old is it and what could it be worth?
— Name withheld

A You appear to have an early 19th century Sheraton-style washstand. The cutout originally held a washbasin. Until the advent of indoor plumbing, most bedrooms had such washstands. Usually the washbasin came with a matching pitcher and other china accessories. In the early 19th century, a room set aside for just bathing was a luxury enjoyed only by the wealthy. Some washstands were lavishly carved of mahogany and featured veneering and inlays. A fine example could sell at auction for $1,000 or more, if attributed to a well-known craftsman. Your country style, however, was strictly functional and plain. The wood is usually pine and maple. Your country style washstand could fetch $250 to $350 at an auction.

This beautiful, hand-painted glass box belonged to my late mother, who had inherited it from her mother. Mom kept it filled with small pieces of jewelry on a glass tray on her dressing table. Who made it and when? Does it have more than sentimental value?
— Name withheld

You have a wonderful example of Victorian art glass made in the late 19th century. It probably once had a paper label. Although many American companies made similar items, yours is typical of pieces made by the C.F. Monroe Co. of Meriden, Conn. It is known by its trade name “Wave-Crest.” Other pieces made by the company are named “Kelva” and “Nakara.” Many were signed, and others had paper labels or were not signed. Your jewelry box could sell at auction for $500 to $700.

Q This large print marked “Currier & Ives” is titled “The Trotting Mare Goldsmith Maid.” It also has the name “J. Cameron.” There are some brown spots. It was in my grandmother’s trunk. It appears to have the original mat and frame. It measures 29 1/2 inches high by 35 1/2 inches wide and is hand colored. What could it sell for at auction?
—  C.D.,  Dallas, Texas

A Your hand colored lithograph, even with “foxing,” could fetch as much as $1,000 at auction.    

Anne Gilbert is a nationally syndicated columnist, author of eight antiques and collectibles books, and is well known for her lectures to business and professional groups. She is a member of the Newspaper Features Council and Society of Illustrators. She can be reached via e-mail at


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