Q: I’m intrigued by your column, where I’ve learned that items around the house may be more valuable than we thought. This box has been in the family for more than 60 years. Any info?
A: The reader adds that his wooden box is 13 inches long by 6 inches wide and 3.5 inches deep. The hinged top is intact.
Seen in photos, the box is a wooden packing or shipping crate, probably pine, dating from the early 1900s.
Fitting into the very popular collecting category of country store-antique advertising, it is special within the genre.
First, the box is in super-excellent condition. Add to that the quantity and high quality of embossed lettering on every surface but the very back and bottom. Very appealing. Even the underside of the top has old-fashioned black lettering reading “Eiffel Tower Concentrated Lemonade” with “10 Pints for 10 cts.,” “So Simple a Child Can Prepare It” and “20 Glasses for 10 Cents.” Another panel reads, “Wholesome, Refreshing, Delicious.” The only markings that could top that would be paper labels done in color lithography.
Vintage boxes and crates are collector favorites because they create instant nostalgia and are great décor accent pieces.
We’re not into raving, but this is a superb example of its type and one that any collector would go for.
When we looked, eBay had more than 1,000 active sales for wooden advertising boxes and almost 3,000 completed sale listings. Checking sale results on www.worthpoint.com, we saw prices for better boxes ranging around $100.
This box tops any we found online. Given the right online exposure, I’ll bet it would top $100. All it takes is reaching the right buyer.
Q: What can you tell me about this beautiful bookshelf? It was given to a relative living in El Dorado, Kan., around 1875-1900.
A: The reader adds that measurements are approximately 92 inches high by 55 inches wide by 13 inches deep. There are no markings, and no one in the family knows anything about the origins of the piece.
Seen in images, the mystery furniture is a large library bookcase in breakfront form. The tall upper part has two facing glass doors that lock. Behind the doors, there are five enclosed shelves. The shorter bottom section is a cupboard with two solid doors. We cannot see if the bottom includes shelves.
The wood appears to be light burl walnut in excellent condition; it’s hard to be sure from the images.
This is a handsome, imposing piece that was probably custom- or shop-made in the early to mid-19th century. Glass panels set into the arched door forms look original and have the waviness and imperfections of early handmade glass. Original glass is a definite plus.
Despite its size, the overall effect of this case is surprisingly light. That’s no doubt due to the light wood and artistically simple bentwood inserts decorating the tops of the door glass. Simply put, our reader has an attractive, well-preserved and desirable piece of furniture.
One caveat is that large pieces are a tough sell today, simply because of their size. Homes are smaller now.
To see what we mean, key library bookcases on www.liveauctioneers.com to view sale results for similar sizes. Note that auction prices for recent sales range from $1,300 to $8,000. Success hinges on finding someone with the space for such a large piece. And then there’s the hassle of moving it.
I suggest you contact an experienced furniture appraiser who can handle the piece to assess quality and advise on current value. Be smart; the case is worth it. Plus, if and when it comes to selling or determining insurance replacement value, the appraisal will be useful.