Who (or what) is Old Stoneface?

2childrocker AT 2-20.jpg Q I would love to know some information on this chair. How old is it? What is it worth? I bought it 40 years ago for $40. It is very pleasant to look at.
– H.R., Frankfort, Ill.

A This little rocking chair is a copy of an 18th century Windsor chair and was probably produced between about 1915 and 1930. It is a nice example of Colonial Revival furniture but such chairs are fairly abundant so the value is modest, perhaps $50-$125.

3men AT 2-20.jpgQ I am wondering if you can give me any information on the three Victorian mystery men I recently acquired at an auction. They appear to be very British but have only the mark “BB,” a starflower and 0198 engraved into the pottery base. The canes the men are holding are painted metal and everyone is guessing by the holes in the other hands that they have been smoking a pipe or cigar as they stroll along. I am also guessing that the tree served as a taper holder. Others think it may have been a vase (majolica ware) because of the botanical tree theme. Each man has a different face, height and wears different color socks!
–M.W., Santa Rosa, Calif.

3amenclose AT 2-20.jpgA What a unique piece this is! I don’t know that it had any special use other than as a vase, but it certainly has an unusual design. I believe it is a form of majolica pottery and most likely produced at a German factory during the last quarter of the 19th century. I’ve never seen a piece like this featuring the dapper gentlemen and because of the rare design the value should be quite high. If it is perfect, with no chips or cracks, I suspect it might sell in the $800-$1,200 range but might bring more from the right buyer.

Q My 96-year-old mother left this to me. I have absolutely no information about it. It is light brown “marble”-type stone and weighs about 30-40 pounds. Any information would be helpful.
– F.A.B., Laguna Niguel, Calif.4stoneface AT 2-20.jpg
A I’ve never seen a “mask” carving like this but it does appear to be some sort of natural material, perhaps soapstone. This man appears to have Asian features and he may represent a Chinese man or Buddhist figure. It is very difficult to date such objects. If your mother had it for many years it could well date from the early 20th century. It is very difficult to evaluate such a unique “decorative” piece, however, I’m sure it would have a good value in the right market; a range in the low $100s is my best guess.