Useful bedroom table known by many names Antiques: Set next to the bed to hold a lamp, it was usually made of attractively grained woods.

March 22, 1998|By Ralph Kovel and Terry Kovel | Ralph Kovel and Terry Kovel,KING FEATURES SYNDICATE

Is it a dressing table, a lamp stand, a sewing stand or a bedside stand?

All those names are used to describe the useful small table with drawers popular in the late 18th and 19th centuries. Such tables have a rectangular top about 16 to 22 inches to a side. A table could have one, two or three drawers. The legs were made in the prevailing style, from thin-reeded Sheraton to heavy-square Empire.

Today many people have a night stand next to their bed to hold such items as a lamp, books, clock, handkerchief and perhaps a telephone. In earlier times, the table was needed primarily to hold a lamp or a hand-held candle or night light that had led the way up dark stairs.

Most of the antique stands were made of attractively grained woods, often maple, satinwood, cherry, birch or mahogany crotch-wood.

My 94-year-old cousin has two Steiff teddy bears, one brown and one yellow. Their eyes are embroidered. When did Steiff use embroidered eyes on bears?

Steiff never used embroidered eyes. The German toy company, founded in 1877, made its first teddy bears in 1903. Its early bears had black shoe-button eyes. By 1910, Steiff was beginning to use black or black-and-brown glass eyes.

Your cousin's bears might have been made by another company, or the original Steiff eyes might have been replaced with embroidered eyes.

I found a 1-gallon stoneware jug that's labeled "Radium Water from the Mendenhall Hotel Baths, Claremore, Okla., Cures Rheumatism, Stomach Trouble, Eczema and Other Ailments." Was radium really in the water?

No. Radium -- isolated by the Curies in 1898 -- was not in the artesian mineral waters discovered in Claremore in 1903. But a few years later, traces of radon, the radioactive gas produced from the breakdown of radium, were discovered in European hot springs that were thought to cure physical ailments. Claremore's entrepreneurs and civic leaders marketed their spring waters as "Radium Water," and sold it in glass bottles and stoneware jugs.

Some wily turn-of-the-century quacks did put small amounts of radium in their "medicines," and patients who took too much developed anemia and even bone cancer.

The dangers of radium were known by the 1930s.

I have pictures of some turn-of-the-century bathing beauties printed on 8-by-10 paper. In the upper corner of each is the name "Turkish Trophies." Beneath each picture is a title, such as "Newport Gal" or "Ocean Grove Girl."

You have some cigarette premiums. Turkish Trophies was a brand of cigarettes produced by the American Tobacco Co.

The bathing beauties were painted by artist Hamilton King in 1902. King produced several series of "girls" for the tobacco company, including a set of 12 sketches, a set of 12 bathing girls, a set of 25 girls in period gowns and a set of 25 flag girls. In 1913, he produced another set of 25 girls.

I have part of an old cast-iron garden fountain. There's a pedestal held up by a sculpture of large cranes and a bowl on top fitted with a center pipe. Cast on the base are the words "J. W. Fiske, 21 & 23 Barclay St., N.Y."

Joseph Winn Fiske opened a factory in Massachusetts in 1858. He made hardware, plant and umbrella stands, fountains, garden statuary and weather vanes. In 1864, Fiske moved his office and showroom to New York City, where the business continued until moving to Paterson, N.J., in 1956.

Your fountain base and bowl probably date from the late 1860s or 1870s, during which time the swoop-necked crane was a popular design.

Unfortunately, you are missing the basin that is set in the ground to hold water. You also are missing the water pump line that goes through the central pipe to make the water spout.

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: 3/22/98

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