Q My aunt has a beautiful bedroom set that she would like to sell. The insignia in the top drawer states “Empire Case Goods, Jamestown, New York.” We believe it to be around 50 – 60 years old, and it has not been used in the last 20 years. She keeps each piece covered in furniture quilts. I was quite amazed how beautiful the finish has remained all these years. It is in fabulous condition.
I have tried researching myself, but I don’t seem to get very far. I would just like her to have some background and an idea of what it may be worth, so that she can sell it confidently. Thank you in advance.
A Empire Case Goods Co. was a maker of mid grade bedroom sets in the early 20th century but they also were very big in the radio cabinet business and the hotel furniture business. The Company was founded in Jamestown in 1912 and burned to the ground in 1935 so your aunt’s set is older than you think.
There is a two page spread about Empire Case Goods in “American Manufactured Furniture” by Don Fredgant, Schiffer Books. It is essentially a company ad aimed at the trade from a 1929 publication with information about construction, materials etc. I will be happy to send you a photocopy along with the price guide of the pictured items in the ad.
Your photos are excellent and the bedroom set appears to be a very good quality from the early 1930s. The style of course is Chippendale and the face veneer on the cabinets is crotch cut mahogany. The detail on the carvings is good.
The best way for your aunt to sell this set is to consign it to a reputable local auction house. She will get a “wholesale” price but she will not expose herself to having strangers in the house at odd times and the sale will be done fairly quickly and she will receive her money almost instantly.
Do some research on auctioneers in your area. My guess is that at a good sale the set will bring in the neighborhood of $1,000 minus commission and costs.
However, this is just a “guesstimate” and local conditions will have a very strong influence on the price. That’s why you need local, professional help from an auctioneer.
Q I hope you could help me. I have been searching for an hour for a definition of “paper” wicker. I saw an article you wrote about cane and wicker and it was the first I have ever seen to speak of “paper” wicker.
Last week I purchased two wicker side chairs from a 70 year old gentleman. He said the chairs had been in his family before he was born. They are, he said, faux “paper” wicker. They are very dainty, with a chair back that narrows towards the top.
I really like them and would like to clean them. How do I do this and can I do anything about the areas where the dark brown has worn away? Could you help, please? Thank you in advance,
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A “Paper wicker,” also known as “faux” wicker, refers to the product described in the article you read. It is brown craft paper twisted around a wire core. In 1917 Marshall Lloyd invented a loom that could weave this manufactured product over a hardwood frame and produce wicker-looking furniture by machine that was essentially the same as the 19th century hand woven furniture made from reeds and palms.
The Lloyd Loom Company was acquired by Heywood-Wakefield shortly after the loom was invented. This put H-W in the forefront of commercial wicker production for the next 40 years.
From your description I assume your chairs are painted dark brown. Just touch them up with some matching enamel paint. You can clean the chairs carefully with water, a mild detergent and a soft brush.
Be careful with the water though because the wicker underneath the paint is made of paper. Thanks for writing.
Q I bought a table from a yard sale and thought it might be valuable. It is very old looking, only 9 inches high, 24 inches long, 17 inches wide. The bottom says “Ethan Allen Early American Furniture by Baumritter.” I paid $3. Thanks.
— Name Withheld
A Baumritter, founded in 1932, was the precursor company of Ethan Allen. The name “Ethan Allen” was attached to a line of “Colonial” or “Early American” furniture produced by the company from 1936 to 1969 when the company changed its name to Ethan Allen and the Baumritter label disappeared.
Without a photo or a better description that’s about all I can tell you except that that’s a very low table at 9 inches high. Has it been cut?
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