Antiques Answer Man
Antiques Answer Man, Wayne Cameron--award-winning columnist-- answers your questions about antiques and fine art in the following articles. Feel free to read through them! They will be updated regularly. We would appreciate your feedback.
Treen Treasures.... Think exotic woods. Think any number of objects and treen ware may come to mind. Always intriguing, these objects carved or constructed from solid exotic woods range from simple forms like bowls to intricately carved trinket boxes or snuff mulls. Petite objects may consist of common exotic woods like mahogany and walnut to the more rare lignum vitae, fruit, pear or apple, rosewood, arbutus, limewood, satinwood and lacewood, to name a few. These unique objects usually exhibit fine finishing and great color that dutifully emerges when the wood has had a chance to age for a century or two. Tea caddies or canisters, likely the most valuable of all treen ware, often feature fruit woods of the 18th and early 19th centuries. More valuable examples can often be shaped in the form or an apple or pear that split in half on a hinge to reveal a tin or zinc-lined interior for the preservation of tea. The caddies usually had a lock as tea remained a costly commodity at that time. In good condition with good age and patination, they can easily fetch upwards of $7,000 to $10,000 CDN today. Recently, at a Sotheby’s auction in England, a pair of larger tea caddies made of lacewood from the plane tree in the late 1700s with some intricate inlay brought well over $15,000 CDN. Carolers at Christmas time in England customarily went about from house to house with empty wassail bowls to be filled by grateful inhabitants with everything from candy to pudding or the typical wassail broth to warm the bones on a cold night. Some bowls included a carved spoon, but most were simply turned with a raised base to be held or to sit proudly on a table. Most often six to eight inches tall, they were made of lignum vitae or some other dense hardwood that could hold about a cup of wassail or other goodies. Often only used on special occasions, many examples have remained in sturdy condition today even from the early to mid 1600s. As such, they can currently demand high prices. These early examples and even ones from the 1700s can bring $6,000 to $7,000 CDN at auction. Snuff boxes made from similar materials and from the early to mid 1700s can also fetch many thousands of dollars, again depending on condition and the quality of carving. Not long ago, I came across a pair of knife caddies or urns from 1850 to1860 made of walnut and classified as treen ware that sold at auction, again in England, for close to $20,000 CDN. As a collector of treen ware, you can still find great little period examples for only $200 to $300 CDN, with better quality examples in the $500 to $600 CDN range. So, when next you scan the shelves of your local antiques store, look for quality objects made from exotic woods, in unusual shapes and, of course, with rich color or patina. Think treen ware. -30-