Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Outdoor Furniture Made of Steel; "Modern" Line Created in 1930s Had Special Features for Comfort

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Outdoor Furniture Made of Steel; "Modern" Line Created in 1930s Had Special Features for Comfort

Article excerpt


The front porch is coming back. In the early 1900s, houses were built with a front porch so the family could sit and talk to the neighbors walking by. Today, restored old houses and new houses in small community settings are again featuring a front porch. The porch needs special furniture, perhaps a swing or glider and other chairs, all made of weather-resistant material. The Howell Manufacturing Co. of St. Charles, Ill., hired a German designer in the 1930s to create a modern line of outdoor furniture.

The chairs were steel and had a spring to make a comfortable seat. There were chairs, loungers, gliders, rockers and tables. The gliders had upholstered seats and backs or fitted cushions. The other chairs were colored with a baked-on enamel. About 10 years ago, several dealers began to go through old sections of big American cities buying the old metal furniture still being used on front porches. They offered the furniture at flea markets or stripped the old paint and powder-coated the pieces, giving them a permanent finish. One very popular style, the pinwheel spring steel chair, is said to have originated in 19th-century France. A pair of these chairs in very good condition auctioned recently for $575. You might be able to find some at a local sale in a neighborhood old enough to have houses with front porches.

Q: I have been searching for someone to tell me who made my lamb cookie jar. The only mark on the 13-inch jar is "USA." The lamb, sitting on his hindquarters, is beige with pink accents on his cheeks and ears. The lid is his hat, which is yellow and shaped like an upside-down flower. There's a brown collar around his neck and his hooves are black. The jar belonged to my mother, who bought it in North Carolina in the late 1950s or early 1960s. Can you help?

Your cookie jar was made by American Bisque Co. of Williamstown, W.Va. Unfortunately for collectors, the company marked most of its jars the way yours is marked. American Bisque was founded in 1919 to make doll heads. It appears to have started making cookie jars in the late 1930s. Until the factory closed in 1983, it made more cookie jars than any American company other than, perhaps, McCoy. Your jar, if in excellent condition, could sell for about $150.

Q: My pressed-wood mantel clock must be about 150 years old. The clock's name, printed on the back, is "Donita."

Your Donita clock dates from the 1880s. It was made by the E.N. Welch Manufacturing Co. of Bristol, Conn. The company was founded in 1864 by Elisha N. Welch (1809-1887) and became the largest and most successful clock company in the country. The Donita model was also sold as a wall clock. Either model sells today for about $200. Welch's company became the Sessions Clock Co. in 1903.

Q: I have my grandmother's 18-by-9-inch hammered silver tray. …

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