Gothic furniture by Rohlfs didn’t fit the mission mold

  • Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 3:55pm
  • Life

By Terry Kovel

Arts and Crafts, or mission, furniture is described in most catalogs and books as functional and simple, with straight legs and arms.

Pieces have little decoration, just visible mortise-and-tenon joints. Light or dark oak was preferred. It was a short-lived style popular from 1900 to about 1915.

The designs were a revolt against the curved, highly decorated furniture of Victorian times. They echoed the English William Morris and John Ruskin idealized view of the single workman creating a piece of furniture in an honest, personal manner.

Morris and Ruskin liked the medieval craft guild organization, although they misinterpreted it to be one man, one object. Studies today show that for centuries a single piece of furniture might have been made by many different expert craftsmen who were carvers, turners, designers or specialists who created parts of a chair or chest.

The revival of the Arts and Crafts style in the 1980s has lasted longer than the workshops of Gustav Stickley, Roycroft and other mission makers. Charles Rohlfs, who is often listed with these makers, was a New York furniture maker who worked during the years Arts and Crafts ideas were popular, but he had his own ideas and designs.

His furniture did not fit in with the look expected then or during the 1980s revival, so until recently it was rarely offered at large auctions and shows.

Q: I would like information about a metal bank I have that’s a replica of a water heater. It has a metal plate on the front that reads, “Rex, The Cleveland Heater Co., Cleveland, Ohio.” It’s 7 3/4 inches tall and has a coin slot in the top. I have had this bank since the late 1930s or early ’40s. Is it valuable or collectible?

A: An ad for Rex water heaters that appeared in a 1959 issue of Popular Mechanics stated that the Cleveland Heater Co. had been in business for more than 50 years, so the company was probably founded in about 1908. It was sold to M.M. Hedges Manufacturing Co. of Chattanooga, Tenn., on Nov. 5, 1963.

A bank like yours sold at auction in 2010 for $453, and another sold on eBay for a very low price.

Q: I have a Post Cereal Roy Rogers “pop-out card.” It’s No. 10 in a series of 36 and pictures Roy and his dog, Bullet. What year were these printed? Does it have any value?

A: Roy Rogers was born Leonard Franklin Slye in Cincinnati in 1911. His family moved to Los Angeles in 1930 and Roy was discovered after singing in an amateur night. He began his acting career using the name Dick Weston and didn’t use the name Roy Rogers until 1938.

Republic Studios wanted him to use the name Leroy Rogers, but Roy didn’t like the name Leroy, so he chose Roy.

Post Cereals “pop-out” cards were enclosed in several varieties of Post cereals in 1952. The back of each card listed the number of the card, title and description. A single card is worth about $10 to $15. A complete set of 36 cards in great condition has sold for $800.

Q: Could there really be a company called “Carl Schneider’s Heirs”? I have a bisque figure of a young girl and my mother says that is the maker’s name. I think it must be the name of the person who gave it to Grandma.

A: It is a strange name, yet there was such a company, no doubt the heirs Carl Schneider named in his will. The name in German is Carl Schneider’s Erben. Schneider was part of Unger, Schnieder &Cie (company), a factory that made figurines, religious items and household dishes from 1861 to 1887 in Thuringia, Germany.

The company closed in 1887. The heirs’ company closed about 1972.

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.

Cookbook, “Through the Menu with Jell-O,” pictures of entrees, appetizers &salads, copyright 1927, Jell-O, Inc., 4 x 5 3/4 inches, $20.

Brass bedroom door knocker, impressed “Esmeralda,” crinoline dress, holding parasol, tree in background, marked, 1920s, 3 1/2 inches, $60.

Baby Smile’n Frown doll, vinyl, smiles when her left hand is raised, pouts when hand is lowered, plastic teardrops, blond hair, blue eyes, Mattel, 1965, 9 1/2 inches, $65.

Tom Mix Spinning Rope lasso, Ralston Cereal Straight Shooters Club premium, 1935, 88 inches, $125.

Beswick Old English Sheepdog figurine, No. 2232, glossy white and gray, black eyes, protruding pink tongue, stamped, 1970s, 11 1/2 inches, $250.

Whiting and Davis mesh bag, Chinese lantern shape, four layers, one each for mirror, powder, money and hanky, floral decoration, four royal blue rhinestones, 1920s, 4 inches, $425.

China cabinet, mahogany, double glass doors with five panes of glass, two glass shelves, Queen Anne legs, scalloped brackets, England, 1920s, 42 x 49 inches, $745.

Walt Disney toy train set, Meteor Express, tin lithograph wind-up, train platform with Walt Disney characters, Marx, box, 1949, $950.

Piano shawl, embroidered Cantonese silk, flowers, birds flying and sitting on branches, pagodas, ducks, white fringe, c. 1920, 49-inch square, $1,450.

Coca-Cola pocket mirror, celluloid, woman in black bathing suit standing by red umbrella holding bottle of Coke, 1922, 2 3/4 x 1 3/4 inches, $2,860.