Ask Antique Trader: Gargoyle hitching post finials are unusual


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Late Victorian parlor furniture

Q This pitcher was given to me by a German friend in 1959 while stationed in Berlin. I have researched to no avail and unable to find anything about it. Can you help?
— Mr. Francis Mazilkowski, Merced, Calif.

A Your Hound-Handle Majolica Pitcher has such a faint mark it was almost impossible to track. Potters, Jean-Pierre Mouzin and Theophile Lecat in Belgium started their company 1849-1890 when Majolica was at the height of popularity. Thereafter many companies sprang up, over-producing and most pieces were never marked.

Majolica is 19th century earthenware with brilliant colored lead glazes. This type of pottery is porous and the thick glassy coating seals the ceramic bodies. Many unusual and fantastic forms of serving dishes were used on Victorian tables. The bowl did not present the food, the food presented the bowl. Lavish sizes, shapes and uses brought a new meaning of food presentation. Naturalistic themes were used in designs of this high-relief pottery, including ‘The Hunt’. If in perfect condition the approximate value is $550. The base under-surface of Victorian Majolica is entirely glazed.

Q Enclosed are pictures of my three furniture piece set. I was told it was made around 1775-1784. I am interested in the history & value.
— Don Edwards, Port Richey, Fla.

A This late Victorian parlor-set is not quite as old as you were told. The architectural design of the Eastlake style was extremely fashionable after 1868. This is when Charles Lock Eastlake, a British designer and writer, used the printing of “Hints on Household Taste,” to propagate simplicity in furniture. Americans welcomed this un-fussed modern look.

Eastlake insisted on solid construction and cheaper price, but the industrial era of mass production made this – easy to produce style – drop in quality. The use of inlay, mixed woods, tiles, and excellent craftsmanship were lost. It became known as The East-laked manner, manufactured with new techniques and even the incised carvings, (marginal-notches) were made by machines. The Midwest, especially Chicago, led the nation in production in 1890.

You did mention the original upholstery was tufted on the single-board, frame back. This helps date your set, circa 1875. The walnut frame has minimal veneer decoration, spool-turnings and out-turned arms with cushioned elbow rests. Front castors allowed pieces to be repositioned for conversational settings. Parlor sets have come in and out of fashion through the 20th century. Yours appears to be in excellent condition. Approximate value is $1,500.

Q I do not know if this pair of statues are for hitching-posts. I found them in a recessed attic of an old log house 30 years ago. Can you tell me more?
— James Nelson, Latrobe, Pa.

A We are going to treat this pair like hitching-post finials, mainly because we cannot personally inspect them and they do have a clove-hitch tether ring. With an 18 1/2-inch height and 5-inch diameter modem-base, they could have been architectural elements of a building, stone gate, iron fence or numerous other highly visible areas. With each Griffin weighing 12 pounds, they certainly are not your typical horse-head finials ordered from the stable-hardware catalog. At your County Courthouse or town library you might find photos of the building or property associated with this pair. That would make them of regional interest.

Ornamental Griffin sculptures or statuary usually are stationed on both sides of entry-gates to act as symbolic guardians of treasure. Examples include museums, art galleries, government buildings, churches, libraries, parks and also have Heraldic significance. Purposely conspicuous, they certainly would have made a statement at the “parking spaces of early 19th century.” The underside shows hollow-mold construction and rust residue before the repainting. Grotesque by some (probably that is why they were hidden away), and admired by others, proves love is in the eye of the beholder.

Approximate value is $800.

Barbara J. Eash, a member of The Certified Appraisers Guild of America, likes to say, “Antiques are memories that you can touch with your hand.” While living in Tennessee Eash coordinated the annual NBC Channel 3 appraisal fair and was known as the Chattanooga Antiques Lady. She has managed two antique shops, and has appraised for TV shows, clinics and in court. Now living in Wisconsin, she chairs Milwaukee Public Television’s annual appraisal fair. Her two office locations are in antiques shops in Waukesha and New Berlin, Wis.


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Late Victorian parlor furniture
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Majolica pitcher
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Gargoyle hitching post finials

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