Q&A on Collecting
Mid 19th-century folding chair
offered convenience, portability
Q: This is a photo of an antique folding chair that I refinished for a friend of mine. It came out quite well. When opened out, it is 28 inches tall and about 16 inches wide. I think the wood is walnut, but I'm not sure. The refinisher used a golden oak stain. I think the chair was made between 1880 and 1890. Am I right? I hope you can help me find out its age and value.
A: Victorian folding chairs made their debut around 1860, and in 1873, there were patents issued to several styles. These chairs were convenient and portable. They were usually made of walnut or other hardwoods, and some makers enhanced them with a painted grained wood finish. The simple and unadorned curved top rail suggests you have an early chair. By the 1870s, they were decorated with spindles and finials. As a rule, the seat was made of carpet, and they were known as carpet chairs. Similar folding chairs were used by the military and called campaign or camp chairs. Their style was less pleasing, but functional. Based on your photo, the wood looks lighter than walnut and may be maple. Your chair was made around 1865 to 1870 and would probably be worth $225 to $325.
Q: I have a complete set of a children's china tea service that has been passed down in the family for generations. Enclosed is the mark on the back of each dish. There are 16 pieces in the set, and they are in perfect condition. The dishes are decorated with transfer print scenes of Sun Bonnet Babies and trimmed in gold. The babies are performing household chores that include washing clothes, hanging them outside on a clothesline to dry and ironing. I would like to know more about their history.
A: Dishes featuring the busy Sun Bonnet Babies are very popular with collectors. The figures are charming and radiate cheerful enthusiasm that is irresistible. The mark you enclosed was used by Warner-Keffer China Company. They were founded in 1908 and made semi-porcelain in East Liverpool, Ohio. The babies' faces were covered with puffy bonnets, and several potteries in the United States and Europe decorated their ware with the happy images. By 1912, Warner-Keffer China Company was out of business. Your circa 1908 tea set would probably be worth $175 to $275.
Address questions to Anne McCollam, P. O. Box 247, Notre Dame, IN 46556. Items of a general interest will be answered in this column. Because of the volume of inquiries, she cannot answer individual letters.