Kyle on Antiques: Very nice wicker was very nice gift

antique wicker furnitureQ Around 1980, my 17-year-old son and a friend, knowing my love of wicker and old things, surprised me with this furniture, which they flat-boated up the Wabash River. The pieces were in a river summer cottage that had been abandoned sometime in the late 1950s, when land access was no longer available.

A metal tag on each item reads, “Merikord American Chair Company, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, The World’s Best Wicker Furniture.” The upholstery has faded to the silvery colors shown, but the cushion sides indicate they were originally a red and navy pattern. In addition to a round table, there is also a kidney-shaped table.

I have tried without success to find out more about the wicker and the company. The upholstery is very beautiful, frayed and worn as it is, and I hesitate to reupholster if doing so will devalue the pieces.

Here’s hoping you can help me. My son Mark and I would both like to know more about one of the loveliest gifts he has ever given me.
–S.J., Delphi, Ind.

antique wicker furnitureA I hope your photographs will reproduce here since you have a very nice set of early wicker furniture. I wasn’t able to locate any specific information on the Merikord American Chair Company but I do know Wisconsin was a major center of furniture manufacture in the late 19th and early 20th century.

From the relatively simple design of these pieces I would date them from the 1910-1930 period. The dark paint could well be original. Today people generally sell old wicker painted white but most pieces were originally painted a dark shade of green or brown. Your upholstery may also be original and it reminds me of the some of the Arts & Crafts fabric patterns developed by William Morris of England. Probably the easiest thing to do would be to reupholster right over the old fabric. That way it could be preserved and protected.
Although I don’t see as much old wicker furniture being sold today as I did some 20 or 30 years ago, I still feel your large set could easily be valued in the $1,500-$2,000 range.

libby jar bank UPDATE:
The April 9 column had a question about an antique glass car bottle 20 inches long. I am a glass bank collector. This car was made my Libby glass in the late 1960s and early ’70s. I have the car in its original box. It is about 5½ gallons and has a decorative screw-on lid. It is a class D glass bank with a value of $75-$100. Shirley Middleton

antique bedroom furnitureQ I am hoping you can give me some information on this bedroom furniture. My parents bought it for me in about 1946 from a gentleman in Cresco, Iowa. It had belonged to his daughter, and the set was old even then. My dad cut the sleigh bed down and the foot is now the headboard. It’s very plain with no trim. Also, through the years, the mirror stand for chest of drawers has disappeared. In addition to pieces in the pictures, and the bed, there is also a straight chair. I am just curious about this set, its history, age, value or any information you can give me. I have looked in books and antique stores through the years but have never seen anything that looks like it.
–N.R., Houston, Texas

A From your photos I would date your bedroom set to the early 20th century, about 1910-1920. It appears that the dressing table and tall chest may be faced with either curly or bird’s-eye maple, a detail popular around 1910. Dressing tables also became more common as part of bedroom sets about that era.

Although the bed headboard has been cut down, that probably doesn’t detract too much from the market value since some modern homes can’t fit in a high-backed antique bed. Even my grandfather did the same thing to a Golden Oak bed he and my grandmother received in the 1920s. The missing mirror frame may affect the value a bit but at least you have a mirror to go with it. As is, I’d say that your set could be valued in the $1,000-$1,500 range.

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