Common items usually have values that are just that. Common.
But once in a while, common items can have surprising values. They can even be things that all of us have in our homes, but probably in a different form.
Today we respond to readers’ questions about a stove and a chair.
Q. We found an old chair at a yard sale. Have you ever seen one like this? What might you be able to tell us about it? — Jerry and Pat in Kennewick
A. Chairs are a bit like dust. There’s quite a large quantity and they seem to be everywhere. And most have modest value. At estate sales and even antique shows, it takes a special example to break $50.
If a chair is old, unusual in form or in a particular style considered “collectible” at the moment — think Mid-Century Modern blond furniture — the value can go up.
This 47-inch-tall chair looks very much like a piece of furniture from the William and Mary style period, 1690-1730.
While it looks that old, this is an American chair made during a 19th century “revival” period of that type of furniture. It probably dates to between 1850 and 1900.
The original William and Mary furniture was designed for comfort and often had shaped backs that were either caned or upholstered.
This chair is a copy of a “Boston Chair,” and features an upholstered seat and a narrow, upholstered center backsplat.
Unusual in form and desirable in today’s market, Jerry and Pat’s chair is a $200 item. An original William and Mary chair, made in England about 1700, could sell for as much as $500 to $750.
Q. I am sending a picture of an old, small cookstove we acquired in 1946. The person we got it from said she had the stove about 20 years, so that would put it manufactured in the 1920s. Engraved on the front is: “The Range Eternal, Engman Matthews, South Bend Indiana.” We have always thought it is an exact replica of the larger cookstoves of that time. Our stove is about 3 feet high by 16 inches wide. I would appreciate any information you may know about it and its value as an antique — Barb in Pasco
A. At the turn of the 20th century, South Bend, Ind., was the hotbed of American cast iron stove manufacturing. A number of companies were taking advantage of a trained work force and extensive railway connections for nationwide shipping.
The giant was the Malleable Steel Range Manufacturing Company, established in 1898. The firm’s founders brought in young Harry Engman as a partner. Engman was from St. Louis, where his family was in stove manufacturing.
Within a few years, Malleable had 200 employees producing more than 25,000 coal- and wood-burning cookstoves a year.
In 1917, one of the founders, Jacob Wolverton, bought out his partners and expanded the firm’s lines to hotel and restaurant stoves, steam tables and other commercial equipment.
Engman turned his partnership buyout into the Engman Mathews Range Company of South Bend. They made quality products, but did not survive the 1920s.
For years, collectors debated whether these small stoves were salesman’s samples or children’s toys. Recent research offers overwhelming evidence that they are samples.
As such, they are quite collectible. In very good to excellent condition, a basic metal and nickel-plated example such as this will sell at auction in the $500 to $750 range.
Fancier models — and sample versions were key to a sale, as a family could invest quite a bit of money in a stove — were available in cobalt blue as well as red, robin’s egg blue and white, all with ornate plating.
Those top-of-the-line salesman’s samples sell for $2,500 to $4,000.
Terry K. Maurer, Tri–Cities personal property appraiser, is a senior member of the Certified Appraisers Guild of America. For possible use in a future column, send questions on your antiques and col- lectibles to What’s It Worth? by email to tchwhatsit firstname.lastname@example.org.