Animal horns have been used to make furniture for centuries. Chairs, chandeliers and storage racks made in the 15th century exist in some museums.
But the popularity of antlers and horns for chairs came about in the 19th century. At first they were made for hunting lodges and castles for nobility, but almost all of the furniture is now known only through pictures and reports.
In 1851, chairs, chests of drawers and even a sofa made of horns were exhibited at the London World Exhibition.
The Tobey Furniture Co. of Chicago displayed the first American horn furniture at the 1876 Exposition. The idea lost favor by 1920. Around 1990, the horn chairs were rediscovered by Western collectors.
The most famous horn-furniture maker in the U.S., and also the most expensive today, is Wenzel Friedrich of San Antonio who started in 1880. All of the furniture is made from cattle horns, available from the slaughter houses. The horns require little care. Some owners like to oil the parts, but most prefer to just dust and wipe with a damp cloth. Chairs are rarely marked and often misattributed, because the makers often copied each other. A Victorian upholstered oak armchair with four cow horns as the arms and back sold in Asheville, N.C. at a Brunk auction a few years ago for $1,400. Chairs by identified makers sell for much more. The National Texas Longhorn Museum pictures many chairs and describes the unique shapes used by the makers.
Q: I have a bust of Madonna holding baby Jesus, which is marked “Goldscheider” over a large letter “G,” with “U.S.A.” underneath the letter. Below that, it has the copyright symbol and “American Goldscheider Corp.” What’s it worth?
A: Frederick Goldscheider started a porcelain factory in Vienna in 1885. When Germany annexed Austria in 1938, the factory was taken over by the Nazi regime. Frederick’s son, Walter, immigrated to the United States in 1940 and founded Goldscheider-U.S.A. in Trenton, New Jersey. The company became Goldscheider-Everlast Corp. in 1941. From 1947 to 1953, it was Goldcrest Ceramics Corp. The Goldscheider factory in Vienna was returned to the family in 1950. The business in America, now called Goldscheider of Vienna, is a wholesaler of religious statuary, including Madonnas that are imported from Italy. Your bust probably was made in 1940, before the company changed its name. Value depends on the size. Medium-size busts of Madonna sell for about $125.
Q: My chrome bowl is marked with the words “Krome Kraft, Farber Bros. New York, N.Y.” and three symbols in an arch. When was it made?
A: You have a piece made by Farber Brothers, who started working in New York about 1915. They made silver-plated, nickel-plated, brass, copper or pewter pieces. Chromium-plated wares were first made in the 1920s. They were popular because of the modern designs and the dishes did not need polishing. The mark on your bowl indicates that it was not made with a china or glass insert that was used with a patented holder. The company went out of business in 1965.
Q: I have an iron shoe last that is 93⁄4 inches long and 31⁄4 inches wide at the ball of the foot. It weighs 81⁄2 lbs. It has an orange color and some little pieces have crumbled and fallen off. It’s been sitting on the floor next to my fireplace for 30 years. How old is it? Does it have any value?
A: Shoemakers or cobblers made shoes by forming leather around a wooden or iron last shaped like a foot. Usually a pair of lasts would be used, one for each foot. Shoes began to be mass-produced in the early 1900s and polythylene plastic shoe lasts were made. The orange color and crumbling pieces are caused by rust. It may be beyond repair, but you can try removing the rust. There are commercial products you can use, or you can try soaking it in white vinegar for 2 hours and then using a stiff wire brush to remove the rust. Then it can be painted with a rust-preventative paint.
Q: I bought a figurine of a young barefoot boy sitting and sleeping against a tree, with a yard hoe and his dog by his side. Printed on the bottom is “NR-208, Sep. 6, 1919” and “(c) 1979 S.E.P.” Can you tell me anything about it and what its value is?
A: Your figurine is called “Lazybones” and is a miniature reproduction of a reproduction. It was made by Dave Grossman Designs Inc., a company that sold limited-edition figurines, snow globes, ornaments and other memorabilia based on movie, television and book characters from the 1970s to the 1990s. The company introduced the “Norman Rockwell, The Saturday Evening Post Cover Collection” for the magazine in 1973. The bigger porcelain Lazybones figurine, NR-08 from 1973, pictured Rockwell’s cover illustration from Sept. 6, 1919. Your two- by three-inch figurine is a miniature version of that one, made in 1979. Hence the markings on your figurine. Collector figurines and plates made in limited numbers were a huge collecting niche in the 1970s and ’80s. It was a new idea that became a fad and most of the pieces are now worth less than half their original “issue” prices. Many would sell for just a few dollars, if they can be sold at all.
Tip: If the shine has worn off a spot on an old Formica tabletop, try using auto-body rubbing compound on the spot.
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.
Dresser box, green celluloid, textured marble look, marked, Amerith, 1930s, 5 x 3 1/2 inches, $20.
Humidor, carved hardstone and brass, phoenix and lotus, hinged lid, scroll feet, c. 1910, 2 x 12 inches, $80.
Kitchen scale, American Family Scale Co, Grand Union Tea co., black metal with silver stencils, 1800s, 6 x 10 inches, $100.
Fountain pen, Namiki, 14K gold, black enamel with multicolor flowers, marked, Japan, 5 x 1/2 inches, $110.
Cameo glass, vase, serpent, garden of eden, green, amber and plum, frosted, bulbous foot, 17 inches, $160.
Roof tile, figure, squirrel holding pinecone, tin glazed, art pottery, c. 1925, 16 x 14 inches, $365.
Butler’s table, brass, bamboo design with x-shaped legs, glass tray top with handles, folding, 30 x 31 inches, $425.
Sterling-silver bowl, hammered design, applied copper berries, spider and dragonfly, c. 1890, 9 x 3 inches, $3,895.
Bronze sculpture, nude girl holding tamborine, posed on one foot, onyx base, c. 1925, 9 inches, $4,975.
Snuffbox, white with molded flowers, woman and pug pictured on interior lid, porcelain and gilt, c. 1765, 3 inches, $5,875.