Good Painted Cottage Furniture Is Hard to Find

By Anne McCollam

December 23, 2016 4 min read

Q: This is a photo of an antique dry sink that has been in our family for years. It has the original yellow paint, which shows some wear, and is decorated with hand-painted flowers. The height is 32 inches. The width is 29 inches. And the depth is 18 inches. The top is hinged on the back, and it lifts up to open.

What can you tell me about the history, vintage and value of my dry sink?

A: Some antique collectors would call your dry sink a hinged commode. It is an example of Victorian cottage furniture that was made between 1850 and 1880. Cottage furniture, also known as country furniture, was much simpler in design and more utilitarian than the typically ornate furniture made during the Victorian era.

Pieces were often painted or grained and decorated with hand-painted flowers. Bracket feet with balanced cyma curves bases, mushroom-shaped pulls and simple turned legs characterize cottage furniture. Most pieces were made of ash, pine, poplar and maple, and most commodes were part of a set. The simplicity of yours appeals to collectors today. Unfortunately, many pieces of painted furniture have been stripped by zealous collectors who don't realize the value and beauty of painted pieces. So a good painted commode is hard to find.

Your commode was made around the year 1870 and might have a value in the range of $225 to $375.

Q: I have an antique purple Carnival glass water set that was given to my great-grandmother in the early 1900s. This mark is on each piece. The set consists of a large pitcher and matching tumblers. Each piece has a thumbprint base and is decorated with grapes, leaves and branches in relief. The pattern is "grape and cable."

We treasure this set and would like to learn more about it. What can you tell us?

A: The mark was used by Northwood and Co. The firm was founded by Harry Northwood and Thomas Dugan in 1902. It was located in Wheeling, West Virginia, and became known as one of the premier glassware makers in the United States. Northwood and Co. made carnival glass from 1908 to 1915. By 1925, the once-innovative glass factory had hit hard financial times and was forced to close. The grape and cable pattern was produced in water sets, berry bowls, hatpin holders, spooners, dresser sets and pin trays.

The color of your set is amethyst. It was made around 1908 and would probably be worth $275 to $300.

 Victorian cottage furniture was made between 1850 and 1880.
Victorian cottage furniture was made between 1850 and 1880.
 Northwood and Co. was founded in 1902
Northwood and Co. was founded in 1902

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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