Harvard Windsor chair unites two icons of Colonial America

Harvard Windsor chair unites two icons of Colonial America

The Bonhams Skinner auction at which this chair sold listed it as a Harvard University Windsor chair, bringing together two icons of colonial America. Harvard University, originally called the New College, was founded in Cambridge, Mass., in 1636, making it the oldest college in the United States. This means that Harvard predates the Windsor chair in America.

The first Windsor chairs were made in England in the 17th century, and were being made in Philadelphia by the 1730s. There were many variations on the Windsor chair, especially in America.

Like most early American furniture, different regions developed their own styles. American designers were the first to add rockers and writing arms to Windsor chairs. The chair can be made in many shapes, which often have descriptive names. They can be easily distinguished by the shape of the chair’s back, like “low-back,” “fan back,” “sack back,” “comb back,” and “bow back.”

No matter the style, a Windsor chair can be recognized by its spindle back, turned legs and stretcher base. They are made with stick-and-socket construction, meaning the chairs are built by inserting the legs and the back spindles into holes in the seat. Windsor chairs and similar styles are also called “stick furniture.”

Q: I have a doll kit for a “Carolyn Doll” and the original box labeled “Your Carolyn Doll from Alice Dohmeyer, R.R. 2, Thiensville, Wis.” My grandmother ordered it, probably in the 1940s or ’50s. I suspect she was planning to make it for me. The doll has a painted china head, china hands and china feet with painted shoes. The back of the doll’s neck is signed “Dohmeyer.” The kit contains patterns and directions for making the cloth body and a pattern to make a 19th-century dress for the doll. Does it have any value?

A: Alice Dohmeyer (1914-2001) sold doll kits and also made dolls. The “china” parts included in the kit are bisque (unglazed porcelain), probably made by other companies. Some Alice Dohmeyer dolls have sold for $20 to $40. The kit would sell for less.

Q: I have a complete set of Deagan organ chimes. We always called them Triple Octave Chimes. I’d like to sell them, but I don’t know where to start.

A: Deagan Manufacturing Co. was founded by John C. Deagan. He opened a factory in Chicago in 1897 and began making musical novelties and bells. It became the world’s largest musical instrument manufacturer by 1912. Deagan held dozens of patents for musical instruments, tuning mechanisms and manufacturing processes. He was granted a patent for organ chimes, a “novelty instrument,” in 1901. They were played by striking with a mallet or shaking them. The chimes were made in sets of 15 (1 1/2 octaves) to 49 chimes (four octaves). The large sets originally sold for $650. They were used in vaudeville acts because they were easy to take apart and pack up. The company was sold in 1967. After more changes in ownership, the Deagan brand name was sold to Yamaha Corp. in 1984. Products bearing the Deagan name are still being made. Organ chimes were made until the early 1920s. Not many sets were made. Sets in good condition are hard to find today and few are offered for sale. Contact an auction house that sells musical instruments to see if they can sell them for you.

Q: I have a fairly rare, autographed baseball from the 1940s, signed by one of the most famous baseball players of all time. The authenticity of the item, signature, etc. is all documented. Do you have a good source where I can get a fair estimate of value?

A: Value depends on the fame of the player, significance of the event, rarity and condition. The highest price paid for an autographed ball was $3 million for Mark McGuire’s 70th home run ball, the record for home runs in a single season, in 1998. His home run record was surpassed by Barry Bonds in 2001. You didn’t say who autographed your ball. Babe Ruth is often considered the greatest baseball player of all time. His autographed ball, the first home run hit in an All Star game (1933), sold for $805,000 in 2006. Babe Ruth autographed balls often come up for auction and prices vary. A ball in near mint to mint condition sold last year for $7,620. One in very good condition sold for $5,651. Contact an auction house that specializes in sports memorabilia. A few auction houses only sell sports memorabilia, while others include sports memorabilia in some of their auctions. You can find some listed in Kovels.com’s Business Directory.

TIP: Examine a piece of furniture and look for unexplained holes, stains and fade marks. They may indicate a fake or repair.

Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel answer readers’ questions sent to the column. Send a letter with one question describing the size, material (glass, pottery) and what you know about the item. Include only two pictures, the object and a closeup of any marks or damage. Be sure your name and return address are included. By sending a question, you give full permission for use in any Kovel product. Names, addresses or email addresses will not be published. We do not guarantee the return of photographs, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. Questions that are answered will appear in Kovels Publications. Write to Kovels, (Name of this newspaper), King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803 or email us at collectorsgallerykovels.com.

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.
Belleek jar, three shamrocks on each side, basketweave texture, tapered beehive form, brown loop finial on lid, green Belleek backstamp with tower and harp, 4 inches, $35.
Silk scarf, images of cut and whole pineapples, black ground with white dots, wide wavy lavender border, Dolce & Gabbana, Italy, 80 by 45 inches, $115.
Advertising poster, “24 Hours of Le Mans,” 14 & 15 June 1969, photo image of sports cars and racetrack, A. Delourmel, linen backing, 24 by 15 1/2 inches, $250.
Pottery bowl, San Ildefonso, black on black, band of stylized geometric waves, metallic glaze on top, folded in rim, signed “Santana — Adam” for Santana Roybal Martinez & Adam Martinez, 3 by 4 1/2 inches, $310.
Brass cigar cutter, deer’s head, antlers, elongated neck with textured finish, 6 1/4 inches, $425.
Stoneware crock, cobalt blue bird on branch, stamped H.W. Broughton & Co., Fair-Haven, Conn., pinched neck, flared rim, two applied ear handles, 3 gallons, 13 1/2 inches, $620.
Ring, blue topaz stone, round, faceted, surrounded by two rows of diamonds, twisted sterling silver double band, marked, David Yurman, size 6 1/2, $725.
Toy, pedal car, Studebaker Golden Jet Hawk, pressed steel, original horn, Midwest Industries, circa 1957, 37 inches, $875.
Perfume bottle, cameo glass, etched butterfly and fern, red ground, tapered laydown shape, sterling silver hinged cap with RK monogram, Thomas Webb, cap marked Gorham, 8 by 1 3/4 inches, $1,500.
Chaise, continuous curve form, white upholstery, four tapered legs, Dunbar, 27 by 57 by 26 inches, $2,000.