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Dominic Serres, The Elder (British, French, 1722 to 1793) oil on canvas [marine] painting, An English Man-O-War Anchored in a Fortified Harbor, unsigned.You pick up strange abilities after years in the antiques business. You watch Westerns with friends and criticize the historical accuracy of the movie’s firearms choices, you learn what words like antimacassar mean, and you start to be able to identify odd things like the ships in marine paintings.

Take, for instance, the man o’ war (which can appear as man of war, man-of-war, man-o’-war or the plural men-of-war), which was a term of the British Royal Navy for a class of ship. A term used for three centuries, from the 1500s through the 1800s, it denoted an armed warship or frigate that had cannons (there were six ratings for a man o’ war based on the number of cannons, ranging from a first-rate one with as many as 124 guns down to a sixth-rate ship with only 20 or so) and relied on sails for power (as opposed to oars, which were the primary source of power on a galley).

Perhaps one of the most interesting things about the name is that it runs contrary to the English tendency to treat all ships as feminine. The theory is that the name came from the “men of war,” the well-armed men transported by the ship.

Not to be confused of course with either the racehorse Man O’ War, who was named by Eleanor Belmont in honor of his owner and her husband, August Belmont, Jr., who was in France at the time of the horse’s birth, having enlisted at 65 to serve in World War I, or the Portuguese man o’ war jellyfish, so named because it was thought to resemble the Portuguese version of the warship at full sail. See, you learn strange things in the antiques business.

A George III silver crested mustard pot, Charles Aldridge, London, 1786-87. Of pierced drum form, engraved with the crest of a tower and turrets, cobalt blue glass insert, marked beneath. The word mustard is thought to come from two words: “mustum,” a Latin word for young wine, which is called must, and “ardens,” a Latin word for hot. It was a hot condiment made by grinding mustard seeds up with must to form a paste, and still today as a condiment made from mustard seeds (whole, ground, or cracked) and mixed with a liquid like water or lemon juice to create a paste, is used around the world, from India and Bangladesh to the Americas, to Africa and Europe. It’s considered one of the most popular condiments in the world.

Mustard was cultivated in the Indus Valley more than 1500 years B.C.E., but likely first found use as a table spice with the Romans, who would have exported it, as by the 13th century, Dijon, France, had become known for mustard manufacturing, a tradition that would continue into the 18th century when Grey-Poupon’s partnership was formed and mustard manufacturing was automated. It was also popular in medieval England, where it was favored because it stored so well. Ground mustard mixed with flour and cinnamon and/or horseradish was lightly moistened and rolled into balls that were dried. They had enormous advantage because they would not spoil or lose their flavor if stored in a cool, dark place and could then be ground up again for use as a seasoning at the table.

By the 16th century, earthenware mustard pots began to appear on tables, where the ground mustard could be mixed on the plate to an individual’s tastes, and they began to accompany cruets of vinegar, wine, and/or oil, which were commonly mixed with the ground mustard. By the late 1700s, castor sets with silver or glass bottles adorned tables, sometimes simple sets with just salt and pepper shakers but often larger and more elaborate sets with containers for vinegar and oil as well as sugar shakers and mustard pots. By the 19th century, mustard pots were rarely found separate from a larger cruet set that decorated fashionable dining tables and sideboards. The trend would begin to decline rapidly in the 20th century however, particularly after French’s introduction of their yellow mustard at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis.

In terms of value, it depends greatly on the material and the age. Silver mustard pots made by a well-regarded silversmith will have strong value, of course, as will standalone jars or pots, particularly if they are early and in good condition. Cruet sets have been a tougher sell in recent years because they are rarely used now and many people are unfamiliar with them, while the individual pots often do better because they can be repurposed in some way.

Furniture: A Louisiana carved cherrywood campeche rocking chair, early 19th century, distinctive architectural half-round crest, continuous back and seat with leather [sling] upholstery and nailhead trim, serpentine arms and supports over curule rocker base, pegged and tenoned construction. The Campeche chair (also sometimes spelled “Campeachy” based on period spellings) is a lounge chair, also sometimes referred to as a plantation chair or a Spanish chair. In Britain, they’re often referred to as an X-frame chair, because of the form, comprised of two X-shaped sides, with one leg of the X making the curve of the back and the other making the rail for the seat, which is a leather sling that forms the seat and back. Campeche refers to the Campeche region of the Yucatan Peninsula, where the form originated. (The chairs were made throughout Mexico and the Caribbean and the Campeche region was known for mahogany, from which the chairs were traditionally made. They are not, as sometimes described, from Campeche wood.)

The chairs were popular at almost any point along Spanish trade routes, but they also found their way further north. They were very popular in New Orleans, where they arrived in regular shipments, and were also manufactured. The majority of American Campeche chairs are believed to have been made in Louisiana, but Thomas Jefferson was given one as a gift and had at least two at Monticello, where John Hemings, the enslaved son of Sally Hemings, copied them in his shop, while James Madison also had a Campeche. And demand slowly spread with a few emigres, with Campeche chairs showing up in catalogues and price books in Philadelphia and later in London.

Today, Campeche chairs can bring anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $70,000 or more at auction. While as always condition and style are important, the two key factors are age, as the form experienced a Victorian-era revival so newer chairs are of course less valuable, and provenance. Because the chairs were all along the Spanish trade route and were usually made of mahogany, rather than American woods like walnut (some are found in cherry and walnut and thus clearly American), provenance is key for collectors wanting to ensure they have an American-made Campeche chair.

Now in its fifth year, the Midwest Antiques Forum will again be held at the historic Golden Lamb Inn in Lebanon, Ohio, April 24-26. There is a full slate of speakers on a variety of antiques-related topics, as well as optional tours of historic homes and A Tradition of Progress: Ohio Decorative Arts 1860-1945 at the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio, of which p4A is a proud sponsor.

Friday’s optional travel program includes a tour of A Tradition of Progress by guest curator Andrew Richmond, followed by a tour of The Georgian, the historic home operated by the Fairfield Heritage Association, and a lunch-time presentation on collecting and researching regional antiques. The road trip will conclude with tours of Mt. Oval, a Palladian-style home in Circleville, and the Corbin-Bolin House, a Greek Revival home in Lebanon.

Saturday and Sunday are days packed with learning through informative lectures. Noted presenters include retired curator of the State Historical Museum of Iowa Michael Smith, who will discuss the Raab family of potters, Garth’s auctioneer Andrew Richmond, who will highlight European-styled furniture made in 19th-century Indiana, and Cowan’s Auctions specialist Jennifer Howe, who will talk about her extensive research on the art carved furniture of Cincinnati. Other presenters include spatterware collector and scholar Tyler Thompson, folk art collector John Kolar, and traditional saddler and leatherworker James Leach. And the dinner presentation will once again be p4A senior Editor Hollie Davis’s antiques market analysis.

Rooms are available at the Golden Lamb, and can be reserved by contacting Kent Anderson (937.426.7573). Historic Lebanon offers a variety of dining options, as well as numerous antique shops. For more information, visit http://www.midwestantiquesforum.com.

My household is usually a busy place. We live in a one-room schoolhouse with too many cats and too many books, and, when that wasn’t challenge enough, we added two small children. I work from home, so my work keeps things busy – including my husband, Andrew Richmond, who has an exhibition opening this Saturday, which Prices 4 Antiques is pleased to sponsor.

When A Tradition of Progress: Ohio Decorative Arts 1860-1945 opens February 7 at the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio in Lancaster, my house will be a slightly calmer place after eighteen months (which is a very short time in the museum world to create an exhibition). That time has involved hundreds of hours of combing institutional and private collections looking for objects, researching and writing about those objects, and even transporting those objects to the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio in Lancaster. In all, there are just over 150 objects—from paint-decorated blanket chests to Rookwood Pottery, and from silver tea sets to a Bakelite and magnesium vacuum cleaner.

And our extended “company family” pitched in too! Among the more than fifty lenders are Kent, our general manager, David and Sharen Neuhardt (David’s one of our board members), Don and Edythe Aukerman (Don’s a former board member), and Wes Cowan (one of our early advisors and head of Cowan’s Auctions, one of our contributors). Garth’s Auctions, Andrew’s employer and another contributor to the database, is also a sponsor. Objects came from throughout Ohio and from as far away as Arkansas and tell the story of Ohio’s coming of age through four themes: Continuing Traditions (objects made in the traditional handcraft manner); The Gilded Age (opulence and those objects that aspired to it); Art & Craft (including the booming art pottery industry); and Becoming Modern (Art Deco and industrial design). Walking through the four galleries of the 1830s classical home that is the Decorative Arts Center, visitors will see a whirlwind of paint, carved wood, brightly colored glazes, glimmering glass, and the shine of chrome and aluminum, as well as works by important Ohio names such as Jacob Werrey, Mitchell and Rammelsberg, Heisey Glass, and Viktor Schreckengost. After Equal in Goodness: Ohio Decorative Arts 1788 to 1860, Andrew’s first exhibition at DACO, which crammed more than 220 objects into the galleries, he has once again challenged DACO’s installation team and they have come through with a stunning display, if I do say so myself, that feels comfortably full, but amazingly not crowded.

The show runs from February 7 through May 17, 2015 and is expected to be seen by nearly 10,000 visitors, so if you’re passing through Ohio, do be sure to be one of them! There is also an exhibition catalog that we spent many late-night hours writing, illustrated with beautiful photographs, and introductory essays that I co-authored. Andrew will also be giving tro lectures during the show’s run and you can find more information about them , the show itself, and DACO here: http://www.decartsohio.org/exhibitions.html. Or, even better, we’d love to have you join us for the Midwest Antiques Forum, April 24-26, as Andrew will also be giving a tour to attendees on Friday as part of an optional day of activities. You can find updates about that here as well as on the Forum’s website: http://www.midwestantiquesforum.com

A Tradition of Progress: Ohio Decorative Arts 1860-1945 was generously supported by not just the Prices 4 Antiques family, but also the Ohio Arts Council, the Wendel Family Fund of the Fairfield County Foundation, the Ohio Historical Decorative Arts Association, and Garth’s Auctions.

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