On a roll in the workplace Antiques: Roll-top desks became popular in offices around the turn of the century.

September 14, 1997|By Ralph Kovel and Terry Kovel | Ralph Kovel and Terry Kovel,KING FEATURES SYNDICATE

The roll-top desk has been an office favorite since the turn of the century. An office worker could close his desk by rolling down its top, a piece of canvas faced with strips of rounded wood.

The canvas was set into the top much like a window shade. It could be opened or closed on the wooden side tracks. The simplest form is called a "C-roll."

Early roll-top desks were large and heavy and made of black walnut, cherry or mahogany. By 1900, most of them were made of oak. It was not until the 1970s that roll-top desks became popular for home use.

My stuffed, printed-cloth "Tabby Cat" is 11 inches high. It is gray and brown.

On the bottom piece of fabric making the paws are the printed words "Pat. July 5, 92 and Oct. 21, 92."

What do you know about this fabric?

Your stuffed toy was made from fabric manufactured by the Arnold Print Works in North Adams, Mass. The prints were made from 1876 to 1925.

The company made numerous fabrics that could be cut and stitched to make toys, including several types of dogs; a monkey; a hen and chicken; cats in several colors and sizes; a rooster; a rabbit; an owl; and the full set of the famous Palmer Cox Brownies. The company also made more traditional dolls.

The uncut fabric for one of the toys is worth about $150. A well-made stuffed toy in good condition brings $75.

I overheard a shopkeeper talking about a lady's spit cup. What is it?

A spit cup was part of every lady's toilette set in the late 1800s. The woman used it after brushing her teeth. She would rinse her mouth and spit into the cup. A spit cup has a handle, and an opening below the rim for emptying. Some versions sell for $150.

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.

Pub Date: 9/14/97

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