Q & A with Harry Rinker: 1960s S. Salvadori Metal End Table Lamp

This lamp, with a basket of metal flowers and foliage, has a tag that reads: “Made in Italy / S. Salvadori / Firenze.” It has a conversation decorator value of between $65 and $85 to a person who views it with some admiration.

QUESTION: I own a gilded/painted table lamp which I rescued from a basement in Conshohocken, Pa. It has a stepped pedestal base. The standard features a basket of metal flowers and foliage, some in gilt and others painted. A tag reads: “Made in Italy / S. Salvadori / Firenze.” I love the lamp. What can you tell me about its history and value?

– KW, Reading, Pa.

ANSWER: Your lamp dates from the late 1950s or early 1960s. It appears to be an end table lamp, thus probably once part of a pair.

I checked Kathryn B. Hiesinger and George H. Marcus’ “Landmarks of Twentieth-Century Design: An Illustrated Handbook” (New York: Abbeville Press: 1993). S. Salvadori was not included. Although I was unable to find a history for S. Salvadori, either as a designer or firm, in Florence, I did find Internet listings for additional examples of his work.

A Paris dealer lists a 1960s dining set that includes a glass-top table with six chairs. The chairs have detailed backs in the design of a sheaf of wheat and slim legs with “X” stretchers. The set has a classic Italian gilt gold finish. While no price is given (it is available upon request), it is clear the seller views the table and chair set as high-style 1960s Modern and is thinking “big bucks.”

WorthPoint contains a listing for a Salvadori metal candleholder that sold on eBay on April 6, 2013, for $22.50. The candleholder measures 7 ¼ inches tall. The seller described the finish as colored “lacquer.”

There are very few table lamp collectors. Older table lamps are bought for decorative purposes or because they are cheaper than new. In the case of your lamp, its decorator value is twofold—conversational and period. The lamp is impossible to ignore. There is no question it will evoke comment from those who see it. It also “speaks decade.” It could only have been made in the late 1950s or early 1960s.

Can the lamp be considered part of the post-Second World War Modernist movement is the critical question. My initial reaction it is more kitsch than Modern. If I am correct, the lamp has a conversation decorator value of between $65 and $85 to a person who views it with the same admiration as you.

If S. Salvadori is a recognized Italian Modernist designer, value increases two- to three-fold. European Modernist dealers haunt the American antiques and collectibles market looking for pieces known to them but not recognized as important by American sellers.


QUESTION: I have a lamp with an Art Nouveau, bronzed finish, six-sided, tapered metal base and a reverse-painted lamp shade with a rustic outdoor lake scene featuring an Indian tepee and a campfire on land and a canoe in the water. The background color of the lamp shade is a lime green. The base is a heavy metal with a greenish patina. There is no maker’s mark on the base or shade. My father gave the lamp to my mother in 1918. In 1930, a wind blew open our front door. A gust of cold wind blew across the room and cracked the back of the glass shade. It was repaired with a brass brad. I would appreciate any information you can provide.

– JB, Canoga Park, Calif.

ANSWER: In the early decades of the 20th century, dozens of companies made table lamps featuring reverse-painted glass shades. Handel and Pairpoint are two examples. The key to identifying who made your lamp is its base. Lamp manufacturers used a limited number of bases. Variety was created by adding different shades to the same base.

The Art Nouveau base and Indian theme of the reserve painting suggest a manufacturing date between 1900 and 1910. Wall prints from that era featured a wide variety of Native American “noble savage” images.

While the damage to the shade can be hidden when the lamp is displayed, it still has a significant impact on value. Repairing broken ceramic and glass with a brass brad, similar to a staple in appearance, was a common practice at the end of the 19th and early part of the 20th century. Although I view the repair as part of the piece’s history and a demonstration of how much the lamp was valued, I am atypical. Most collectors want only undamaged pieces. The repair reduces the value of the lamp by a minimum of 50 percent.

In fine condition (no visible damage or deterioration to the finish on the base or the reverse painting), the lamp has a value between $900 and $1,000. As it stands, its value is between $375 and $425.


QUESTION: I own an eight-inch African-American doll made by Norah Wellings. The face appears to be felt. What is its value?

– B, Lancaster, Pa.

Norah Wellings Cloth Dolls and Soft Toys”by Gillian Trotter (Cumberland, MD: Hobby House Press, 2003).

ANSWER: When I encounter a pressed-felt faced doll, my first thought is Italy’s Lenci dolls. However, I am aware other doll manufacturers used the pressed felt process.

Norah Wellings from Shropshire, England, worked as a doll designer for Chad Valley from 1919 to 1926. In 1926, Wellings left Chad Valley and joined with her brother Leonard to found the Victoria Toy Works Company, located in Wellington.

Victoria Toy Works Company produced adult, character, children and ethnic dolls. The firm also created dolls for the tourist industry and special-edition dolls for clients, such as cruise ships. Sailor dolls featured the name of the ship on the rim of the hat.

Dolls ranged in size from six to 36 inches, with the vast majority being 18 inches or less. Composition materials included felt, plush, velvet and velveteen. Most dolls have painted eyes, although examples are known with glass eyes. Norah Wellings dolls had a paper tag on the wrist or foot. A few had a cloth tag on the bottom of the foot.

Norah Wellings dolls were sold worldwide. Production was greatest in the 1930s and 1940s. Although the Victoria Toy Works Company closed in 1959, sales of back stock continued into the early 1960s.

Gillian Trotter, author of “Norah Wellings Cloth Dolls and Soft Toys” (Cumberland, MD: Hobby House Press, 2003), is the author of a Norah Wellings blog. The Trotter book is out-of-print, with used copies selling on amazon.com and other used book websites starting at $80.

Norah Wellings black dolls usually are Pacific Island native focused. The dolls are known as “Islanders.” Size is critical to value. A Ruby Lane seller is asking $695 for a 36-inch Islander doll. Smaller Island dolls sell between $50 and $75.

EBay has between six and a dozen Island dolls listed regularly. Remember to distinguish between asking “Buy It Now” prices and examples that sold through.


QUESTION: I have a wooden Bissell “church or lodge” Sweeper that, near as I can figure, was manufactured about 1909. The sweeper is in excellent condition. The wooden handle is missing. What is its value?

– M.D., via e-mail

ANSWER: The March 25, 1902 edition of Hardware (Volume 24), page 29, contains this information about a Bissell carpet sweeper brochure: “It also includes in its assortment the larger size Sweepers manufactured by this company, such as the ‘Grand,’ the ‘Club,’ and the ‘Hall,’ designed for sweeping large residences, halls, churches, lodge rooms, etc….”

Melville Bissell patented the Bissell Carpet Sweeper in 1876. Bissell built his first plant, located in Grand Rapids, Mich., in 1883. Within a decade, Bissell was producing 1,000 sweepers per day. Melville Bissell died in 1889. Anna Bissell became the company president (1889-1919) and later chairman of the board (1919-1934).

Although dealers often ask in excess of $50 for early Bissell carpet sweepers, the secondary sales market is minimal. Most are bought as conversation pieces. A typical auction price for a standard home sweeper would be $20 or less.

Your “church or lodge” model will command a premium because of its limited production when compared to the standard (smaller) home models. A realistic price is between $35 and $45.


Rinker Enterprises and Harry L. Rinker are on the Internet. Check out Harry’s Web site.

You can listen and participate in Harry’s antiques-and-collectibles radio call-in show “Whatcha Got?” on Sunday mornings between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Eastern Time. It streams live on the Genesis Communications Network.

“Sell, Keep Or Toss? How To Downsize A Home, Settle An Estate, And Appraise Personal Property” (House of Collectibles, an imprint of the Random House Information Group), Harry’s latest book, is available at your favorite bookstore and via Harry’s Web site.

Harry L. Rinker welcomes questions from readers about collectibles, those mass-produced items from the 20th century. Selected queries will be answered on this site. Harry cannot provide personal answers. Send your questions to: Rinker on Collectibles, 5955 Mill Pond Court SE, Kentwood, MI 49512. You can e-mail your questions to harrylrinker@aol.com. Only e-mails containing a full name and mailing address will be considered. Please indicate that these are questions for WorthPoint.

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