DEAR HELAINE AND JOE: I don’t know if you can help me or not, but when I moved, the movers lost the finial to my piece of furniture. Is there any hope at all of getting a replacement? Also, can you give me any insight into the item — its age, worth and so forth? Thank you.
— A. H. R., San Jose, Calif.
DEAR A. H. R.: With the rest of her photographs, A. H. R. included a shot of a label from the Mahogany Association Inc., that is affixed to her piece. The label was used by a number of American manufacturers to certify that the wood used in their product was either solid mahogany or made using genuine mahogany veneers.
The specific label on the piece in today’s question is the one used on veneered items. The Mahogany Association was formed in response to wood that was grained to look like genuine mahogany and colored with aniline dyes, which easily misled many unwary buyers. The lookalikes became a problem around the turn of the 20th century, and the Mahogany Association was an organization of manufacturers who used the label to certify they were using genuine mahogany.
The labels generally had a number on them that referenced the particular maker that manufactured the piece. The secretary bookcase belonging to A. H. R. appears to have the number “134” on its label, which was reportedly used by the Maddox Company of Jamestown, N.Y.
This is a little vague and might be the Maddox Table Company of Jamestown, which was founded in 1898 by William Maddox. The company changed hands in 1919, was sold again in 1978 and was out of business in the mid-1980s. But we also found references to Maddox Colonial Reproductions, also of Jamestown, but this could be a brand name used by the Maddox Table Company, or it might be a separate entity. The history we found was not precise, and we cannot be sure on this point.
Now for the age of this piece. Unfortunately, A. H. R. does not give us any clues. We do know it is a medium quality reproduction done in the Chippendale style, and when we went looking, we found several pieces exactly like it on eBay. Indications of age on these ranged from the late 1930s to the 1950s. We believe this piece is probably circa 1940. It is definitely pre-1969, because that is when the Mahogany Association Inc., ceased operations.
As for finding a replacement finial, A. H. R. might consult thegrandfinial.com, craftparts.com, Amazon or even eBay to find something she likes and feels is appropriate. Or, she might go to a cabinet making or woodworking shop to have one custom made. She should be sure to bring along a picture (there are several online) to show the craftsman exactly what she wants.
Maddox secretary bookcases such as the one belonging to A. H. R. can be purchased online in the $400 to $750 range. That should be kept in mind when deciding how much to pay for a new finial.