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Collectibles-General (Antiques)/Rescued Empire Dresser


Dresser Front
Dresser Front  

Quarter Sawn Top
Quarter Sawn Top  
I recently had an opportunity to rescue a few pieces from an old (ANTIQUE)home that was inherited by my sister-in-law. This dresser was given to me, and I would really like to know it's age and any other history about the maker that you can give me.  I did attempt to figure out as much as I could and it seems to bear the remnants of an Empire Furniture Company (Huntington, WV) paper type label on the back, but I am not certain. I know it is not a very valuable piece monetarily, but I wouldn't mind a basic estimate of it's value if you have an idea. I have just begun to remove the avocado green that her grandmother lovingly painted it back in the 60's, and discovered that it is clearly a decent looking quarter sawn oak veneer. I think it is possibly from the 20's or 30's, but I just haven't been able to find enough info to be certain. Please Help!

please tell me what i could have done to be more clear and more knowledgeable in order to have better helped you.


1900-1915 is when this was made.  it is often called empire oak but is not empire period as empire period was 1820-50s.  the top is quartersawn oak veneer, as i suspect the rest will be as well.  it will look great when done.

There is little information on the company, here is some.
if you wish i can do some research but it will take some time.

Lumberman Charles Lloyd Ritter (October 6, 1865-December 22, 1945) was born in Muncy, Pennsylvania. In 1889, he came to West Virginia and entered the lumber business at Oakvale, Mercer County. Two years later he moved to Welch, where he organized the Tug River Lumber Company. Its offices later moved to Bluefield and then to Bristol, Virginia, before Ritter brought the company to Huntington in 1901.

Ritter settled permanently in Huntington, marrying Mabel McClintock, a Marshall College (now Marshall University) graduate, in 1902. He purchased many important commercial properties in the Huntington business district and invested in lumber, coal, gas, and mineral developments in West Virginia and nearby states. He was a director of the First National Bank of Huntington, president of the Ritter-Burns Lumber Company, the Ritter Hardwood Lumber Company, the C. L. Ritter Lumber Company, the Central Realty Company, the Huntington Land Company, the Rock Castle Lumber Company, the Turkey Foot Lumber Company, the Norfolk Land Company, the Empire Furniture Company, and others.

Ritter died in Huntington where he is remembered today in the name of Ritter Park, to which he donated acreage.


WEST VIRGINIA In History, Life, Literature and Industry

The Lewis Publishing Company, 1928 - Volume 4, page 62-63

       CHARLES W. WATTS, president of the Watts-Ritter Dry Goods Company

of Huntington, is a successful business man who started his career with

neither capital nor influence, merely with such abilities and talents as he

possessed, which of themselves were of no ordinary merit. He has had a

career at Huntington for thirty years, and has risen from bookkeeper to

president of one of the leading wholesale houses of that city.

       Mr. Watts was born at Webster, Ohio, in 1867, son of James M. and

Nancy (Collis) Watts, his father a native of Virginia and his mother of

Maryland. His father spent most of his active life in the iron industry at

Jackson, Ohio. He was a Democrat and a member of the Presbyterian Church.

       Charles W. Watts was the second in a family of three children. His

schooling was consigned to the advantages of his home locality, and in 1887

he was keeping books for a firm at Point Pleasant, West Virginia. In 1888

he came to Huntington, and was for two years bookkeeper for the

Barlow-Henderson Company was succeeded by Biggs, Watts & Company, and in

1906 it became the Watts-Ritter Company, wholesale dry goods, with Mr.

Watts as president. The company has thirty traveling men covering territory

in Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky, and does an immense volume

of business in dry goods, notions and holiday goods. While this is the

business to which Mr. Watts gives most of his time and energies, he has

become connected with a number of other important business organizations.

He is a director of the First National Bank of Huntington and member of the

executive committee; is president of the Blue Jay Manufacturing Company,

overall manufacturers, selling their goods all over the United States; is

vice president of the Empire Furniture Company and a director of several

other companies in Huntington.

       Mr. Watts married, in 1895, Miss Elizabeth Biggs, who was born in

Kentucky and died in 1904. In 1916 he married Ouida Caldwell, daughter of

the prominent Huntington banker and capitalist, the late James L. Caldwell.

Mrs. Watts finished her education in the Mary Baldwin Seminary at Staunton,

Virginia. She is a member of the Episcopal Church, while he is a

Presbyterian. Mr. Watts is a member of the Guyandotte Club and Guyan

Country Club.  

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robert klein


In regards to American antique, vintage and collectible furniture I can help with wood identification, styles, age, periods, historical coatings, materials, techniques, repair, restoration, refinishing, and value. I do not study mid century and later furniture nor do I deal in lamps, and other smalls. You may ask for values and I will give you current market values, I will not give you 'feel good' values. Understand that there are many factors that contribute to market value. If you want a feel good, unrealistic number, please call a local inexperienced appraiser. It is my desire to help you and in doing so I increase my knowledge as well. For that I thank you.


I have been in the antiques furniture and restoration business and in the sales of antique furniture for 40+ years and have continued my education in the trade attending workshops and seminars by various organizations, institutions, and private collectors.

Professional Refinishers Groop, Int., AIC, Antiques Dealers Association

BA Florida State University BA University of West Florida 1971

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