December 1, 2023

In the 1980s, a friend’s mother decided to redecorate with unfamiliar modern-style furniture. She bought a small wooden table that was painted red and designed by Jeff Lederman, an Ohio artist. The table had won a prize for design in an Illinois state contest.

Lederman was a busy artist who changed interests and occupations many times. He designed logos for companies in the 1970s and furniture in the 1980s. For a while, he put his art aside for a new career saving wildlife. He painted pictures again from 2014 to 2018 and started making digital art in 2020.

Q: My grandmother had an old sampler hanging on her wall. I looked at it every time we visited. I don’t know what happened to it, but I was thinking of buying an authentic old sampler for my remodeled farm-style kitchen. Are old ones worth the price?

A: Samplers have been made for hundreds of years. They reached the height of their popularity during the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe. The best American samplers date from 1790 to 1840. Condition is key to value. If they are cut, restitched, stained or torn, they are not as valuable. A framed original early sampler, dated 1814, recently sold for $600. Many cost less.

Q: I own a 1954 Herman Miller rosewood lounge chair with black leather and original labels. It is all original, but the leather is cracking and opened in a few spots. Would it look better reupholstered? Will new upholstery destroy the pedigree and value? What should I do?

A: Your chair and ottoman were designed by Charles and Ray Eames and manufactured by the Herman Miller Company. The Eames lounge chair and ottoman were introduced by Herman Miller in 1956 and are still in production. A new chair and ottoman retail for around $7,000. You can purchase vintage pieces at auctions for $2,000 to $5,000 depending on condition. As long as the frame and wood are in good condition, reupholstering with Herman Miller materials will not hurt its value. However, it will cost around $2,000 to do so.

Q: I am a Realtor and am fortunate enough to go into older homes with many architectural elements still intact. I’ve become fascinated by the elaborate antique doorknobs I see. I bought one for $25 in an architectural salvage store last week. It appears to be brass. Do you think I got a good deal?

A: Doorknob collecting can be a lot of fun. In the early 19th century, people still opened doors with their thumbs. Their doors were fitted with wrought-iron thumb latches. Some of the earliest brass doorknobs in the U.S. started appearing around that same time. They were fixed to surface-mounted locks. Brass, bronze, pottery and glass hardware were popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the 1950s to 1970s, urban renewal programs caused many aging Victorian houses to be destroyed, with the loss of artistic hardware. The destruction spurred the creation of the Antique Doorknob Collectors of America. Detailed information can be found at their website, Knobs can be found in secondhand shops, at demolished building sites, flea markets, malls, online shops and auctions. It looks like what you paid is a fair price.

Q: I have a framed print titled “The Town of Lanark,” published by Smith, Elder & Co. in 1825. It reads “drawn on the spot by I. Clark.” It pictures factories by a river, hills and the town in the distance. How can I find its value?

A: John Heaviside Clark (1771-1836), the artist and engraver of this print, was born in Scotland and was a famous landscape painter. The letter “I” was often used for “J” in the 1800s. “The Town of Lanark” is one of 36 aquatints done in a series called “Views in Scotland,” which pictured towns in Scotland during the Industrial Revolution. The cotton mills in Lanark were powered by water from the nearby river. The owner, inspired by Utopian ideals, tried to set up a model industrial community. Clark’s engravings were evidently intended to be published in book form but were published separately from 1824 to 1828, and there is no known copy of the complete book. If you have an original print, not a recent reproduction, it could be worth more than $1,000. You should take it to a museum or rare print dealer to see if they can authenticate it.

TIP: Bright sunlight will damage antiques by fading colors or drying wood. There are several brands of film that can be applied to your windows to cut UV rays, heat and glare.

Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel are syndicated columnists.


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