Treasures

Are these candlesticks old or new?

 
 
Prisms similar to the ones on these candlesticks can be seen on pieces made yesterday, but are these antique?
Prisms similar to the ones on these candlesticks can be seen on pieces made yesterday, but are these antique?
HANDOUT / MCT

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Q: These candlesticks are marked on one foot with a number in a rectangle and a # symbol. The dangles are glass and are attached to the candlesticks with thin wires. There are four sections to the candlesticks connected with a long screw down the interior, which is hollow. They look cast and weigh about 3 pounds each. They were a moving gift from a friend who liked to go antiquing. We have moved several times since; should I keep them moving with us? Thanks for any information you can pass my way.

D.C., Honolulu

A: Last week, we discussed the art of researching and identifying an antique and suggested that the Internet can be frustrating and unreliable and suggested that when all else fails, books and trained librarians may be the answer. In this case, however, no book will guide you and the Internet may be the only way to go — not for info on when these candlesticks were made or where, but how much they might be worth today.

Our knowing about these candlesticks is based on the fact that we are “geezers” — old folks who actually remember when these were new. Joe recalls a very similar pair of these on his aunt’s dining room table.

They were new in the 1960s (other similar pieces were also new in the 1970s) and they were widely retailed in department and furniture stores as well as gift shops and interior design stores. They came in a variety of sizes — many with matching centerpieces and/or fruit bowls — and they all had this Continental European rococo style with the same drop prisms.

The older and “better” examples have glass prisms, later pieces have acrylic prisms of the same shape. How do you tell the difference? Well, there is a difference in weight and density — and the glass examples tend to be a bit cooler in the hand.

To sum up, we feel that this pair of gilded base metal candlesticks was probably made in the 1960s or a tad later. In collecting, items from the mid-century are hot right now and items from the 1960s are part of this collecting trend. Does this apply to these candlesticks? Sadly, no.

What collectors want right now is “mid-century” modern, and from the ’60s they want the “mod” and “psychedelic” pieces that are so characteristic of the time period. These candlesticks are imitative of an 18th century French style called “rococo,” which is characterized by depictions of rocks, shells, fruit, flowers, “C” scrolls, ribbons, acanthus leaves and curved lines.

This pair of candlesticks has “C” scrolls, leaves and flower representations, and the candle cups are supposed to represent stylized flower buds. But because they pay tribute to the 18th century, they are not of much interest to collectors who are looking for mid-century modern because they are just not to their taste.

Usually, we see the place of origin for candlesticks such as these listed as Italy, but we are not entirely sure of this. They may be American because they are not marked with the country of origin (of course, they could have had an easily removed paper label saying “Made In Italy”).

For insurance purposes (retail) this pair of candlesticks should be valued in the $60 to $85 range.

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Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson have written a number of books on antiques. Do you have an item you’d like to know more about? Contact them at Joe Rosson, P.O. Box 27419, Knoxville, TN. If you’d like your question to be considered for their column, please include a high-resolution, in-focus photo of the subject.

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