If you never lived in Ohio you've probably never heard of Mitchell & Rammelsberg furniture.
It was the largest furniture manufacturer of its time located in the Midwest, but not in Grand Rapids, where most of the furniture was made. (Lots of lumber and goods are transported from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River and then to the ocean and overseas.)
The company started in either 1836 or 1847 in Cincinnati. It made top-quality Victorian furniture with hand carving and steam-driven woodworking machines making the parts. It became Robert Mitchell Furniture Co. in 1881 and didn't close until 1940.
Pieces often were marked "M&R," or the inside of a drawer might be stamped "Mitchell & Rammelsberg." Only a few pieces of a bedroom set were marked, so many pieces today are identified by the design and quality of the work.
The company worked in many styles, from Classical to Egyptian Revival. It also made dining sets, desks, sofas, hall trees, occasional tables and other pieces. Buyers pay the most for mahogany and the least for walnut, but the design, carvings and trim also influence the price.
A mahogany bedroom suite with bed, table, chairs and dressers sells for thousands of dollars today, but they are scarce.
Vernon Kilns dishes
Q: My mother worked at Vernon Kilns in the early 1950s. My sister and I have inherited the Vernon 1860 dishes, including several serving platters, covered and uncovered bowls, a soup tureen, coffeepot, creamer, sugar bowl, and salt and pepper shakers. Does anyone collect this? How can we contact an interested party?
A: Vernon Kilns made dinnerware in Vernon, Calif., from 1931 to 1953. When the company closed, Metlox bought the molds and continued to make some patterns. Vernon 1860 dinnerware was made from 1944 to 1954. It's usually listed online as part of Metlox Pottery's Poppytrail line. Plates sell online for under $20, depending on size. Serving pieces sell for higher prices. A Vernon 1860 serving platter was listed at $85 and a tureen at $240. If you want to sell the dishes, contact a site that offers Vernon 1860 for sale. They will buy it, but at about 30 percent of the retail price.
<PARAGRAPH style="Text_Body_NoIndent">Q: Since Franciscan China began in California, why do my Simplicity pattern dishes say "Japan" on the back? These were from my grandmother in the 1950s or '60s.
A: Franciscan dinnerware was introduced in 1940 by Gladding, McBean and Co., a California company that made sewer pipes, floor tiles and other architectural products. Competition from dinnerware made by foreign manufacturers in the late 1950s caused the company to shift some production to Japan in 1959. Simplicity is one of five patterns in the Porcelain line introduced in 1961 and made in Japan. Later, after changes in ownership, Franciscan dinnerware was made in England, China and Thailand. Production stopped in 2015.
Write to: The Kovels, c/o King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019. The website is kovels.com.
Prices are from shows nationwide.
Occupied Japan toy, dancing couple, windup, celluloid, pink, blue, original box, 5 inches, $50.
Basalt bust, Shakespeare, collar, buttons, convex base, impressed Shakespeare, marked, 12 by 8 inches, $150.
Verlys vase, Thistle, opalescent glass, flared archways, three-piece mold, signed, 10 by 7 1/4 inches, $240.
Amberina castor jar, coin spot, enamel bird, flowers, branches, dog finial, Webster silver-plated frame, 9 1/4 inches, $370.
Rockingham figurine, sheep, recumbent, base, circa 1825, 4 by 5 1/4 inches, $405.
Capo-Di-Monte ewer, Neptune, mermaids, tropical fish, schooling fish, seaweed, dolphin, 16 1/2 inches, $510.
Letter opener, dragon, belt hook, jade, engraved silver blade, 8 1/4 inches, $1,000.
Ruskin vase, purple, white, green, 6 1/2 by 4 1/2 inches, $1,690.