Grotto fantasy furniture was 'the cat's meow'
Published: Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, November 7, 2013 at 12:08 p.m.
Q: I would like to get some information about the chair in the attached photo. I rescued this many years ago from my grandmother's apartment. But when I saw something very similar to it in Matisse's home in Nice, I was intrigued.
— R.H., Internet
A: You have a side chair in the Grotto Furniture category, also referred to as fantasy furniture. Sea forms, stylized dolphins, seahorses, rock forms in grottos, etc., were carved and then gessoed and gilt as fantasy furniture. It was popular during the last quarter of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century. Avant-garde artists of the time and the social well-to-do all had furniture similar to your chair in their home. It was the cat's meow, as they say. It was produced in Venice and France in fairly large quantities during the 1890s. Potential dollar value is in the $1,000 range, perhaps more on a lucky day.
Q: An electrified candelabra of my mother's was broken by the moving company when I returned recently from Ann Arbor, Mich., to Williston. It is made of pot metal, has cut-glass danglies, and places for five bulbs. It is broken in three places, and my guess is that it would be very difficult to weld back together being as how it is made of pot metal. I do not know when or where my mother got it, perhaps in the 1950s or 1960s in Charlotte, N.C. I have attached a photo, which does not show the long cut-glass danglies. Do you know anyone in the Gainesville area who does this kind of welding? Or could you estimate the value for me to report it to the moving company's insurance?
— S.H., Internet
A: The pot-metal candelabrum was made in the 20th century, and was probably new when your mother bought it. The style is taken from the Rococo era of the 18th century. The four dolphin motif base legs give it an extra decorative look. There is no specific collector interest. It would be in the used-goods category. In excellent condition, potential dollar value is less than $50.
To reset the broken pieces JB Weld is an excellent product and can be used to repair pot-metal objects. The crystal teardrop prisms can be replaced as well.
Q: I believe that the object shown once belonged to my father, but where it came from originally, I have no idea. My mother had no idea where it came from. It measures 7¾ inches by 5 inches. It is all wood except for the rubber on the rollers, which due to age has hardened. I found it in 1975 in the attic in my parents' home in Pennsylvania. I would appreciate it if you could tell me what it is and if it has any value. I am having an estate sale, so I would like the information.
— L.F., Internet
A: The item is a massage roller. There is no specific collector interest. Dollar value is in the garage-sale category, i.e., cheap.
John Sikorski is an Ocala antiques dealer. He hosts a call-in radio show, "Sikorski's Attic,'' on WUFT-FM (89.1 FM). It can be heard each Saturday from noon to 1 p.m. Send your questions to Sikorski's Attic, c/o The Gainesville Sun, 2700 SW 13th St., Gainesville, FL 32608-2015; or email email@example.com.
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