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Condition everything when buying wicker

Treasures & Trends

Question: I recently began collecting older wicker. I notice that there are various weaves and even different types of wicker. I have two questions for you: Do you consider wicker a good investment and what should I be aware of when investing in wicker? – George, Green Valley

Answer: Let me begin your answer with a brief history lesson. Wicker was imported from the Orient during the early years of the 19th century. It was first manufactured in the United States just before the Civil War. By the late Victorian-era, wicker had found its way into the front parlors and public rooms of homes throughout our country. The elaborate, closely woven designs are mostly from this early period. The simple designs that followed are representative of the first two decades of the last century, and Art Deco pieces marked the 1920s and ’30s. Wicker may be made from various things including bamboo cane, rattan, reed and even artificial fibers.

When buying a piece of wicker, examine it carefully. Has it been used on an outdoor patio and baked in the intense heat of southern Arizona? Is the weave intact or has it started to break and unravel? Is the piece durable and can it be used for its intended purpose. In other words, is a wicker chair a good deal if it is so fragile you can’t sit on it? Probably not.

As with most collectibles, condition is everything when buying wicker. Although the age of a piece can sometimes be a factor, be aware that many of the Victorian weaves and designs are now being mass produced. A good source that might be helpful is Antique Wicker, a shop which has bought and sold vintage wicker for more than three decades. The contact information is: P.O. Box 69, Bernard, ME 04612, info@antiquewicker.com, www.antiquewicker.com and 207-244-3983. Check out this company’s Web site for a glimpse at exceptional pieces that are available for sale.

In addition to his work for the Tucson Citizen, Larry Cox writes book reviews and a weekly collectibles column that are syndicated by King Features and distributed throughout the United States and Canada. E-mail: contactlarrycox@aol.com.

The following did not appear in our print edition.

Question: I lived in Washington, D.C., where I collected White House souvenirs throughout the 1970s and ’80s. I have ashtrays, mugs, cufflinks, six editions of the White House Cookbook and even tea towels. I would like to contact others who share this hobby. – Tom, Tucson

Answer: H. Joseph Levine is the owner of Presidential Coin & Antique Co., 6550-I Little River Turnpike, Alexandria, VA 22312. Levine is especially interested in Presidential jewelry, Christmas cards, pens, White House glass, china and paper items. He might be able to advise you.

Question: My mom recently gave me a partial set of flatware in the Classic Rose pattern by Reed and Barton. Where can I find its missing pieces? – Theresa, Tucson

Answer: Your pattern was introduced in 1954 by Reed & Barton which, incidentally, produced more than 100 patterns. To find missing pieces of flatware in a retired pattern, contact Silver Queen, 1350 West Bay Drive, Largo, FL 33770 and 800-262-3134. To identify patterns, I recommend “Warman’s Sterling Silver Flatware: Value & Identification Guide” by Mark F. Moran (Krause, $24.99).

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