The French had a word for it Antiques: 'Armoire,' 'commode' and 'chaise longue' are only a few of the terms collectors probably already know.

August 25, 1996|By Ralph Kovel and Terry Kovel | Ralph Kovel and Terry Kovel,KING FEATURES SYNDICATE

The French have complained that English words are creeping into their language. They object to signs in France offering "hamburgers" or "french fries." But there is no shortage of French words that have made their way into the English language.

"Armoire," "commode" and "chaise longue" are just a few of the French words we now use.

An armoire is a large piece of furniture much like a closet. It has doors, shelves and hanging space.

A commode is a chest of drawers.

A chaise longue is a chair with an added resting space for legs. In French, "chaise longue" means "long chair."

American antiques collectors might be surprised to learn how many French words they already know.

I bought a Royal Vienna tea set at an auction. It has the blue beehive mark and a black flag that almost covers another mark that reads, "Carlsbad Fine Porcelain, Made in Czechoslovakia." What does all that mean?

The beehive mark is actually an upside-down shield. It was first used in 1744 by the Royal Porcelain Manufactory of Vienna. The factory made Royal Vienna porcelain until 1864. Factories in many other countries have reproduced Royal Vienna using the "beehive" mark. The black flag was added by a decorating studio to cover the name of the porcelain firm. It was made in the 1920s.

My father left me an old horn powder flask with brass decorations. It was made about 1830. What's it worth?

Depending on the condition, horn powder flasks sell for about $100.

When I was growing up, I had a dollhouse. I got StromBecKer furniture for it. I still have a deco-style sofa with purple decorations, a chair that matches, a pair of end tables and a coffee table. Do these have any value?

StromBecKer Playthings starting making toys in the 1920s. The company was famous for its all-wood dollhouse furniture, which was moderately priced. Fine versions were sold in upscale stores, while an economy line sold in the five-and-dime.

The company made a deco-style living-room set in 1945. The sofa, which originally sold for $2.25, is worth $25 today. The matching club chair sold for $1.50, and today sells for $18. The matching end tables that sold for $1.50 now are worth $16 a pair.

The Kovels welcome letters and answer as many as possible through the column. Write to Kovels, The Sun, King Features Syndicate Inc., 235 E. 45th St., New York, N.Y. 10017. If you wish other information about antiques, include a self-addressed, stamped (55 cents) envelope, and the Kovels will send you a listing of helpful books and publications.

Pub Date: 8/25/96

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