Belter furniture now prized for its quality

  • Tue Jul 24th, 2012 8:55pm
  • Life

Collectors prize furniture that is created by a famous maker, but antique furniture is often not identified with a label.

Experts can “attribute” a piece to a maker by comparing it to other known furniture that has a label or a history of ownership.

John Henry Belter was one of the most famous American furniture makers working in the late 1800s. He invented a way to glue six to eight thin layers of rosewood (with the grain going in different directions) into a large strong piece that could be curved. It was a type of plywood that he patented in 1858.

Belter was born in Germany in 1804, came to New York in 1833, and made furniture for the wealthy from 1844 until he died in 1863.

He favored the Rococo Revival style with curved legs, arms and tops of backs.

Few pieces were marked, but the laminated rosewood, the carvings of heads of poets and the founding fathers, and even the style of the grapevines can be identified.

In the 1950s his furniture was considered garish and in poor taste. But by the 1960s collectors started to realize his furniture is very well made and his designs are the best of the late Victorian period. It became an expensive collector favorite.

At a recent auction, a 40-inch-wide table, made about 1850 attributed to Belter, sold for $27,060. It featured carved heads like those on other labeled Belter tables.

Q: I have two figurines with “Gold 2Y, Mark Hampton Co. Inc. Marridge Bldg. 1909-1910, New York City, Regfitt HC Fisher” printed on bottom. “Mutt” and “Jeff” are engraved into the bases. Any information you can give will be greatly appreciated.

A: “Mutt and Jeff” was a long-running newspaper comic strip, created in 1907 by Bud Fisher, about two mismatched gamblers. One was very tall, and the other was very short. The Mutt figurine is 9 1/4 inches tall, Jeff is 5 1/2 inches.

“Mutt and Jeff” is generally accepted to be the first daily comic strip. A pair of Mark Hampton Co. “Mutt and Jeff” figurines in excellent condition recently sold at auction for $40.

Write to Terry Kovel, (The Herald), King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.

&Copy; 2012, Cowles Syndicate Inc.

On the block

Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.

Toy stroller, cast iron, spoke wheels, original paint, Hubley, early 1900s, 4 1/2 x 4 x 2 inches, $115.

Limoges salad plate, yellow daffodils, lavender scrolled border, gold trim, A. Lanternier, green stamped mark, 1891-1914, 8 inches, $125.

Yogi Bear cookie jar, American Bisque, Hanna-Barbera, 1961, 13 1/2 inches, $295.

Hummel Chapel Time clock, No. 442, girl at chapel door, battery-operated, limited edition, 1986, 11 1/2 inches, $395.

Egyptienne Luxury Cigarettes sign, cardboard, young woman wearing pink bonnet and dress, blue background with packs of cigarettes, self-framed, 1890s, 21 x 17 inches, $775.

Super Sue Ice Cream advertising clock, double bubble, smiling upside-down single-dip ice-cream cone, lighting, 1950s, 16 x 16 inches, $795.

Patchwork quilt, Bear’s Paw pattern, white-on-white hand quilting, diagonal alternating blocks of calico colored bear’s paws, scrolling vine border, 1860s-70s, 76 x 80 inches, $935.