Collector Is Curious About Carvings

By Anne McCollam

August 2, 2019 4 min read

Q: The piece of furniture in this photo is at least 78 years old. I remember it as a small child and have always found a place for it in my homes. It has no markings to indicate the manufacturer or retailer. It was originally stained brown, and I had it stripped and refinished. It is 23 inches high and 12 inches deep. Are the carvings machine- or hand-carved? Sometimes I'm sure they are hand-carved, and then I think they must be machine-carved.

Any information you can give me about this piece will be appreciated.

A: You have a late 1900s Victorian stand. The mushroom pulls, curved legs and foliate spoon carvings are representative of country Victorian furniture. It can be difficult to distinguish between hand carvings and machine carvings. Before the Industrial Revolution, furniture was handmade by cabinetmakers. A hand-carved piece would have inconsistencies and variations in the pattern as well as tool marks. Handmade furniture in small shops gave way to the age of the machine in the Victorian era. Large factories sprung up. They used new technologies that could quickly mass-produce furniture that was affordable. They used machines and tools capable of making identical patterns and designs. The term spoon carving is used because it looks as though a spoon was used to carve the pattern.

Your Victorian stand was made in the late 1800s and would probably be worth $300 to $400.

Q: I have enclosed the mark on the bottom of a porcelain pitcher that was given to me by a friend. She is a collector of antiques and told me it was a pitcher used for serving lemonade or cider. It is decorated with grapes and leaves; the handle is gold; and it is in perfect condition. It stands about 6 inches tall and is 9 inches in diameter.

What can you tell me about my pitcher?

A: The Ceramic Art Co. made your lemonade/cider pitcher. It was located in Trenton, New Jersey, from 1889 to 1906. It produced fine porcelain that was equal in quality to Irish Belleek. The Ceramic Art Co. employed talented artists who created and hand-painted their designs. At the turn of the last century, china painting was popular among women who were homemakers. They purchased blanks — undecorated pieces — and hand-painted them. Many of the amateur artists signed their names and the date. The Ceramic Art Co. became Lenox Inc. in 1906.

Your pitcher was made around 1900 and would probably be worth $75 to $175.

 Victorian stand was decorated with spoon carving.
Victorian stand was decorated with spoon carving.
 The Ceramic Art Co. was located in Trenton, New Jersey.
The Ceramic Art Co. was located in Trenton, New Jersey.

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

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