Which Came First, Governor Winthrop or Chippendale?

By Anne McCollam

February 2, 2018 4 min read

Q: The mahogany secretary seen in this photo is a bit over 7 feet tall and 40 inches wide, and the bookcase is 9 inches deep. The mahogany finish is very good; the glass panes are all original; all the secondary woods are mahogany; and the hardware is intact. When the secretary is opened, there are pigeon holes, drawers and secret compartments. It includes the original key for the bookcase. I can't find any maker mark. The family that owned it lived in Schenectady, New York.

Could you tell me its value is, the age and any information on its history?

A: You have a Colonial Revival Chippendale secretary that was made around 1920. The broken pediment top with removable finial, the slant front, the serpentine drawers and claw and ball feet are representative of Colonial Revival furniture. It is often called a Governor Winthrop secretary. Both Maddox Table Co. in Jamestown, New York, and Winthrop Furniture Co. in Boston, Massachusetts, made similar secretaries in the early 1900s. Gov. John Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay colony lived from 1588 to 1649. Winthrop Furniture Co. made Colonial Revival secretaries and was inspired by the name. It introduced a secretary in 1924 as its Governor Winthrop model. Gov. Winthrop never had one. The Chippendale period of design and slant-front secretaries began in the mid-1700s and lasted until almost 1780. Although misleading, in the era of Colonial Revival furniture it was profitable to use the name of a famous colonist.

Your secretary was made in the early 1900s and would probably be worth $300 to $400. Similar ones can be seen offered for much higher on the internet. That doesn't necessarily mean they are selling at that level.

Q: This mark is on the back of four dinner plates that I have. Each plate is decorated with red flowers and green leaves. Their background is white, and they are in mint condition.

What can you tell me about the maker, vintage and value of my plates?

A: Villeroy & Boch made your plates. Johann Franz Boch founded his dinnerware factory in 1748 in Mettlach, Germany. The first factory was in a Benedictine abbey in Mettlach. In 1836, he merged with Nicholas Villeroy. Over the years, they added more factories in several cities. They produced dinnerware, steins, beverage sets, punch bowls, beakers, plaques and drinking cups. Villeroy & Boch is still in business.

The mark you provided, the image of the Roman god Mercury wearing a winged hat and holding snakes entwining staffs, was used from 1874 to 1909.

Your plates were made around 1900, and the set of four would probably be worth $100 to $150.

 "Govenor Winthrop" secretary name is misleading.
"Govenor Winthrop" secretary name is misleading.
 Boch's first factory was in a Benedictine abbey.
Boch's first factory was in a Benedictine abbey.

Address your questions to Anne McCollam, P. O. Box 247, Notre Dame, IN 46556. Items of a general interest will be answered in this column. Due to the volume of inquiries, she cannot answer individual letters. To find out more about Anne McCollam and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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