19th century chair inspired by Roman magistrate
This Mexican chair with its leather sling seat is known as a Campeche chair. The style was inspired by a Roman magistrate’s chair, which had a similar shape and sloping seat that was considered very restful. More recent Campeche chairs were made in the 19th century in Latin America, the Caribbean, Spain, the Balearic Isles and other nearby areas, and Indonesia. They are named for the Bay of Campeche in the Gulf of Mexico, or perhaps the town of Campeche in the Yucatan where they were made. From 1800 to 1825, many of these chairs, sometimes called “plantation chairs,” were shipped to New Orleans and used in Southern homes. Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison both had several Campeche chairs with tooled leather seats. By the 1830s, there were many references to the chairs in books and letters. This chair has two wooden X-shaped sides held together with horizontal rails. The sling back and seat is made of tooled leather with an Art Nouveau design that suggests a date in the late 1800s. It sold at a Neal Auction in March 2018 for $976.
Q: My sister and I have a first edition of “Paper Dolls and How to Make Them, A Book for Little Girls” by Anson D.F. Randolph. It reads “Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1856.” The book has plates of dolls and doll clothes in color and black and white. We’d like to know how to go about selling it.
A: The first paper dolls were made in France in the 1700s. The first paper dolls made in the United States were printed in 1854 and were sold in boxed sets. Your book was the first American paper doll book. This book has been offered for sale online for over $700. You can try contacting a used bookstore to see what it will offer, or you can contact one of the online booksellers that deals in old books. If you don’t have access to a computer, your local library reference department may be able to help you. We checked retail prices at bookstores for you. One wanted $750, another $695. The condition is very important when setting a price.
Q: I’m curious about the history of an old Anchor Brand wringer I have. It’s made of wood and has two large metal “screws” on top and a metal crank handle. The wringer is about 16 1/2 inches high and 26 inches wide. There is a lot of printing on it, including “Enclosed cog wheels, patented May 5th, 1896, prevents soiling of the clothes.”
A: Hand-cranked clothes wringers that could be clamped onto a wash basin or washing machine were first made in the 1840s and were in common use until automatic washers with spin cycles became popular in the 1950s. Anchor Brand was made by Lovell Manufacturing Company of Erie, Pennsylvania, probably beginning in the 1880s. The company also made mouse traps, rat traps, ball bearings, bed springs and other items. Several washing machine manufacturers used Anchor Brand wringers. The Lovell factory is no longer manufacturing. It has been remodeled and is now known as Lovell Place and includes luxury apartments.
Q: I inherited a square porcelain tray marked with a crown, the initials “P.M.,” and “Bavaria.” The tray is pale green with a portrait of a Victorian-era lady in the center. It has slightly scalloped edges and gilt handles. Can you tell me who made it?
A: Your tray was made by Porzellanfabrik Moschendorf, a porcelain factory in Hof-Mosrf, Bavaria, Germany. This mark was used from 1895 to 1937. The factory became Porzellanfabrik Otto Reinecke in 1937 and closed in 1957.
Q: I’m thinking of selling some of my Madam Alexander dolls. They are bend-knee walkers about 8 inches tall. Each doll is dressed in a costume from a different country and is in perfect condition. What are they worth?
A: The Alexander Doll Company was founded in New York City in 1923 by Beatrice Alexander Behrman (1895-1990). She trademarked the name “Madame Alexander” in 1928 and began referring to herself as Madame Alexander. She sold the company in 1988, and there were more changes in ownership. The company has been owned by Kahn Lucas since 2012. Your dolls are part of the “International Dolls” series. Bend-knee walker dolls were made from 1956 to 1964. Some dolls’ retail prices this year were $23, $40, $65 and $84. There is a club for collectors, the Madame Alexander Doll Club (madc.online). You may be able to learn more there.
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Tip: Always put plastic dishes on the top rack of the dishwasher. Test any old dishes to be sure they will not warp or melt in the dishwasher.