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Published March 19, 2010, 12:00 AM

Tete-a-tete sofa created in 1800s for conversation

A “tete-a-tete” is a private conversation between two people. The word is French and means “head to head” or “private conversation.”

By: By Terry Kovel, INFORUM

A “tete-a-tete” is a private conversation between two people. The word is French and means “head to head” or “private conversation.”

In the late 1800s, furniture designers created a sofa by that name. Two seats were joined together in an S-shape so the seated people faced each other. The pair could lean a bit and have a confidential conversation. Later a third seat was added to make a round tete-a-tete sofa for three people. It was often placed in the center of a large room, perhaps a hotel lobby. Upholstery was as extravagant as possible, with tufting and fringe.

Modern versions of these sofas are made today with simple fabrics in modern, often abstract, patterns. In February the Carlsen Gallery in Freehold, N.Y., sold this three-person tete-a-tete for $1,035.


Q: I have an 8-inch vase marked “Rosemeade.” Is it old?

A: Rosemeade Pottery was in business in Wahpeton, N.D., from 1940 to 1961. It was owned by Laura A. Taylor and her husband, R.I. Hughes. Art pottery and commercial wares were made. The company was also known as the Wahpeton Pottery Co. Rosemeade vases usually sell for under $100.


Q: My Waterbury calendar clock has white marks on the paper face. It looks like Wite-Out, but I believe it might be caused by a solvent used to clean the clock. What can I do about the white spots? The clock dial is enclosed in an eight-sided case with a short drop for the pendulum. Can you tell me when this clock was made?

A: Paper clock dials should not be cleaned because the result usually is worse than the original problem. You can buy a reproduction dial for your clock by searching on the Internet or trying some of the sources listed in the directory on our Web site, Kovels.com. Waterbury Clock Co. was founded in Waterbury, Conn., in 1857. Waterbury “drop octagon” (also called “schoolhouse”) calendar clocks were popular from about 1880 until the 1920s. Waterbury bought Ingersoll in 1922 and became Ingersoll-Waterbury Co., so your clock was made sometime before 1922. Drop octagon calendar clocks were offered in the Waterbury 1893 catalog for $5 to $7. Value today for a clock with a perfect dial is about $400.


Q: I saw a bronze bust at a yard sale a couple of years ago that looked just like my Uncle Norm, so I bought it for a couple of dollars. I use the bust (“Uncle Norm”) to hold my bedroom door open. It’s very heavy and is signed “A. Rodin” on the back. Under the head it says, “Alexis Rudier Fon Paris.” What is it worth?

A: Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) was a well-known French sculptor. Many of his bronze sculptures were cast by Alexis Rudier, who had a foundry in Paris. A French forger, Guy Hain, used many of the original molds from Rudier to reproduce works by Rodin and other sculptors. These were marked with Rudier’s name without his consent. Hain sold the bronzes as originals to unsuspecting art dealers. Hain was arrested in 1992 and sentenced to four years in jail. After his release he again made bronzes marked with Rudier’s name. He was arrested in 2002 and sentenced to five more years. Hain made thousands of copies of works by Rodin and other sculptors. Yours probably is one of the copies.


Q: I have a set of bronze flatware place settings for eight that a friend gave me when she moved into an apartment. Her husband bought her the set during World War II. It’s in the original box with the name and address of the company, Siam Bronze Factory, Bangkok, Siam.

A: Bronze tableware has been made in Bangkok for many years. It became popular in the United States after American GIs brought it back after the war ended in 1945. The name of the country was changed from Siam to Thailand in 1949. The company that made your flatware is still in business in Bangkok and is now called Siam Bronze and Thai Products Co. The company makes flatware, plates, bowls and accessories in bronze and stainless steel. Sets of bronze flatware and barware often show up for sale on the Internet. They usually sell for under $50.


Q: I have a sculpture of the goddess Minerva by Oswald Schimmelpfennig. Who’s he?

A: Oswald Schimmelpfennig (1872-c. 1944) was a freelance artist and sculptor who did work for Gladenbeck, a foundry in Berlin, Germany. He worked from the 1890s until at least 1933. Schimmelpfennig made statues of carved marble as well as bronze. Many of his works were political.


Q: I would like to know if Avon products are still collectible. I have an Avon bottle shaped like a golf cart carrying two sets of golf bags and clubs. It still contains Wild Country After Shave and is in its original box. Is it worth anything?

A: Avon made the golf cart container for Wild Country After Shave in 1972 and 1973. The containers usually sell for $10 to $15.


Tip

Rearrange lamps, figurines, vases and other knickknacks on tabletops. If you don’t, the exposed wood will be lighter than the covered sections under the ornaments.


For more information about antiques and collectibles and free price information, visit Kovel’s Web site, www.kovels.com

Kovel answers as many questions as possible through the column. By sending a letter with a question, you give full permission for use in the column or any Kovel forum. We cannot guarantee the return of any photograph, but if a stamped envelope is included, we will try. The volume of mail makes personal answers or appraisals impossible. Write to Kovel, The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.

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