A soft seat for a nap by the fire Antiques: Designed long before the introduction of central heating, the high-backed, upholstered, wing chair still has its fans.

November 03, 1996|By Ralph Kovel and Terry Kovel | Ralph Kovel and Terry Kovel,KING FEATURES SYNDICATE

In the late 1600s, wing-sided "sleeping chairs" were the last word in comfort for the well-to-do. Hard benches and wooden chair seats were customary. The idea of soft upholstery did not become commonplace until the 1700s.

The wing chair made sense. It usually was kept in the bedroom. The high back and arms kept the heat of the fireplace near the sitter and shielded the person from drafts.

Central heating made the wing chair less popular, but the design has survived, thanks to the fact that it is so comfortable.

The shape of the feet and legs and the curve of the arm changed. Copies of the old designs and different modern examples of chairs with the comfort of the high back and arms are still being made.

One 1990s chair is made of curved, stiffened felt. Instead of upholstery, it has a quilted pad that can be snapped and tied into place. The chair's occupant can avoid back drafts and wrap up in the quilt.

I have an old bottle with the words "R.V. Pierce M.D. Dr. Pierce's Favorite Prescription Buffalo, N.Y." The words are all in raised letters.

In the middle to late 18th century, Dr. R. V. Pierce sold 23 different patent medicines, including Dr. Pierce's Favorite Prescription, which contained digitalis and opium.

Another "cure" Pierce sold was called "Dr. Pierce's Golden Medical Discovery," whose main ingredient was opium. He also operated the World's Dispensary and the Invalids Hotel & Surgical Institute, both in Buffalo, N.Y.

He published "The People's Common Sense Medical Adviser." It included a hard-cover book as well as a series of booklets on various diseases and their cures.

As an engagement gift, my aunt sent me the Bob Mackie Bride Barbie. It's still in great shape. Has it increased in value?

The Bob Mackie Barbies, like all old Barbie dolls, have gone up in value. Collectors appreciate the Mackie-dressed dolls' elaborate costumes. Your doll, made in 1992, is worth about $900.

At the Japanese Exhibit of the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago, I bought a silk handkerchief. The exhibit had women demonstrating how silk was made. The handkerchief has a geometric print. In one corner it says, "1933 Japanese Silk." Can you tell me its value?

World's Fair souvenirs are popular. The most popular silk handkerchief souvenirs are those that picture scenes of the fair; they sell for $35 to $50. Without a connection to the fair printed on the handkerchief, it would sell for about $10.

The Kovels welcome letters and answer as many as possible through the column. Write to Kovels, The Baltimore Sun, King Features Syndicate Inc., 235 E. 45th St., New York, N.Y. 10017.

Pub Date: 11/03/96

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