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Collectibles-General (Antiques)/Vintage "American Furniture Company" Items

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Hello:

I have a bedroom set (highboy dresser, two twin headboards, one nightstand, one desk and a full-size dresser), as well as a dining room sideboard that all have "American Furniture Company" burned into (sorry, I forgot the "technical" term) the left vertical side of the top drawer of each piece.

I inherited the pieces from my Grandparents, who likely purchased the pieces new in the New York area somewhere. I believe that my Grandparents likely bought them sometime from 1910-1930, but I am far from certain -- which is why I am e-mailing you!

From what I understand based on my research on the Company, the pieces I have must have been made between 1904 and 1949.  However, some sources seem to "imply" that the pieces with the burned-in marks were likely made before 1916.

All of the pieces are quite different in finish than almost all of the pieces I located pictures of on-line.  All of the pieces have a burl wood veneer on all exposed portions of them (although some of the drawer fronts on the buffet look like they are either really dirty, or that the burl wood is painted and not actual veneer - I would never clean the pieces in any fashion at all without professional advice, so I cannot be certain on this last point.  You may know based on the Company's regular practices, however.

The pieces have a single line of acanthus leaves carved into the front edges and middle of them, with carves swirly blocks at the top of each drawer center.  The top side edge of the pieces has a sort of "blocky" egg and dart molded edge incised into it.  It almost looks Hawaiian or Asian?  Are the burl wood veneer sets rare?

Also, the desk bottom is made up of turned sections with rounded areas of various sizes up to 5" or so running down each leg and across each bracing bar.  We do not have any matching desk chairs.

I was wondering if you could provide any information to me on the more precise history of these pieces, specifically when they were made and who would have been selling the pieces in either NYC or its northern suburbs around the time that I think my grandparents bought it (or when you tell me when they actually did buy it).  Perhaps you could tell me which of the Company's catalogs -- a lot of which seem to appear on-line -- these pieces might be in.

I would never directly ask for an appraisal in this sort of free educational / historical context, wherein I admire your willingness to dedicate your time to responding to the questions of interested persons like me.  But, I can "always hope" that you might "let me in" on if they are worth what I have been seeing on line generally, or more due to the rarity of the burl wood, etc. I see pieces on-line for $500-$1,600.

Please ignore the last paragraph if it offends you.  I really do actually want to know about the history more than the value -- these are "family pieces" and likely will not be going anywhere but to my daughter's house anytime sooner or later!

Thank you,
Michael S.
Yorktown Heights, NY

Answer
I will help with anything i can.  if you will use the followup function and post pictures of the items then i can help with value, wood, and age.  I can tell you an approximate age but I cannot give you history of the particular item.  please understand that furniture form and style followed some fairly loose guidelines just as the form of the automobile did,  however, many manufacturers, about 5000 in the 1900-1920 era made the same styles and forms.  Who would have been selling the items in the past would be any and every furniture store and believe me, there were thousands and thousands.  The more populaces the area the more stores and the only way to know is the find a store label in addition to a manufacturers label.  also to branding,  whoever said that branding (burned in) somehow dated things is just silly.  but, the actual brand/label of a company can be used to help date a piece since companies changed the style of the labels from time to time.

awaiting your pictures

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robert klein

Expertise

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. robertsantiques@cox.net 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.

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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.

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

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BA Florida State University BA University of West Florida 1971

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