Question: My husband inherited some Colonial reproduction furniture owned by a relative during the 1930s. We are especially interested in a wooden child’s rocker with a seat that, when lifted up, reveals a 7-inch in diameter hole containing a ceramic bowl. The relative called it a potty chair. “Wallace Nutting” is stamped in capital letters under the chair’s seat. Your comments about the chair, its maker, age and if it has any value are appreciated. — C.M., Woodbine
Answer: The block-letter, branded mark you mention indicates your piece was made at Wallace Nutting’s New England furniture factory, located in Massachusetts from 1917 to 1941. Wallace Nutting (1861-1941) was a minister, photographer, author, woodworker, marketer and entrepreneur who collected original early American furniture and household accessories, then later reproduced them for sale in department stores.
Known during the early 1900s for his hand-colored photographs of New England landscapes and interior scenes of American Colonial homes, Nutting inspired national interest in his high-quality furniture reproductions following the publication of his book, “Furniture of the Pilgrim Century,” by Marshall Jones Co. in 1921. As a result of the book’s success, America’s Colonial Revival style of home architecture and interior decoration dominated the 1920s and 1930s.
Your rocker, described as a “Child’s Necessary Chair,” is one of Nutting’s Pilgrim Century Style Furniture items, although the bowl probably is not original. This year, an example in very good condition sold for $100.
Question: Is it possible for you to provide information about a like-new, teal blue plastic “Howdy Doody Uke” purchased with other toys at a household sale many years ago? The ukulele, marked “Kagran Corp.,” is 17 inches long and in a carrying box that shows Howdy playing the instrument. Included is an instruction book noting “Emenee” as the instrument’s maker. — W.H., Stone Harbor
Answer: Howdy Doody was the marionette star of NBC TV’s Howdy Doody show, a leading children’s program that ran for 2,343 afternoon performances from 1947 to 1960.
Created by producer E. Roger Muir and show host “Buffalo Bob” Smith, a former radio disc jockey and singing piano player, the show featuring Howdy and his puppet friends as well as clown Clarabell provided weekday entertainment for children. It also generated a huge amount of character merchandise that later became very collectible.
Copyrighted “Kagran Corp.” during the 1950s, Howdy Doody items include dolls and marionettes, cookie jars, banks, watches, costumes and masks, rocking chairs, night lights, games, mugs, lunch boxes and toys such as yours made by Emenee. The firm, a major manufacturer of musical and plastic toys, was located in Flushing, New York, from 1955 to 1968.
During the past decade, demand for Howdy Doody collectibles gradually tapered off. Recent asking prices for the Howdy Doody Uke have been in the $15 to $25 range, and a boxed example in excellent condition brought $27 this year.
Alyce Hand Benham is an antiques broker, appraiser and estate-liquidation specialist. Send questions to: Alyce Benham, Living section, The Press of Atlantic City, 1000 W. Washington Ave., Pleasantville, NJ 08232. Email: [email protected]. Letters may be used in future columns but cannot be answered individually, and photos cannot be returned.
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