Chicago Antiques Guide

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Art Deco Waterfall Dining Room Set

Posted Friday, June 16 by Brian

Deco Waterfall China Cabinet.jpg I am writing to you with HIGH HOPES that you can help me (PLEASE!!!) or at least guide me into the right direction.

The time has come to part with my family's dining room set. It is definently an antique...if it wasn't well then I would have never written this email to you. I have searched high and low and I have done everything but take this thing apart to find out the manufactur but... no luck. The ONLY thing we did find out was that it was made in 1941. I had the furniture re-upholstered and refinished 12 years ago and it looks phenomenal till this day. When they went through the process they searched every nook and cranny to find any info on the furniture and the only thing they found was the year. Please see the attached pictures. Included in this set is 6 chairs, buffet, china cabinet and table. Please let me know if this is worth something, how I can go about selling such a gorgeous antique and who would buy it ?!? I believe I'm sitting on a real treasure but I need to have it appraised or validated. PLEASE HELP!

Thank you so much for you help in advance!

Anxiously anticipating your reply,


Deco Waterfall Buffet.jpgDeco Waterfall Table.jpg

Well Daphne, the style of your set is called Art Deco Waterfall. Your date of 1941 is in the timeframe that this style was available. You will probably never be able to identify the manufacturer, but that is not very important. The factors that affect people's decision whether or not to buy a particular dining room set are style (they have to like it first), size (it has to fit the room), condition and price.

Deco Waterfall DR Chair.jpgFirst I'll address the style. Your set is one of the more elaborate Deco Waterfall sets that I have seen and is quite impressive. However, I have found this style very difficult to sell. Until 4 or 5 years ago, it was nearly impossible to sell at any price. That being said, your problem is to find someone that not only likes it, but likes it as well as you do.

In regards to condition, it certainly is in excellent shape. It does not, however, have the original finish anymore. This may or may not be an issue for potential buyers. Originally these had a very soft satin-like finish. Whoever refinished it put a gloss finish on it. Since the original finish has been removed, it is now mostly a matter of personal preference. If this were an historically significant set, like an Arts and Crafts set by Gustav Stickley, refinishing would have drastically reduced the value. Although a good original finish is always preferable, on a waterfall set it will have less impact.

Size is more of a deal breaker than a deal maker. There is not much you can do about the size, but I have lost sales when a set is too large or too small.

Finally to the price. I have said for years, "If you can't eat it or drink it, if it doesn't keep you warm in the winter or dry in the rain, it isn't worth anything until you sell it. Then it is worth what you got." I can see an antique dealer pricing this set between $2,000 and $3,000 in his store. I can also see it sitting there for a year or two until the "right person" came along. Some dealers would price it in the $1,000 to $2,000 range to try to sell it more quickly. Over the last few years I saw two very nice Art Deco Waterfall bedroom sets priced between $600 and $1,000 sit for a year in shops. One owner "gave up" and sent it to auction where it sold for half his asking price.

You also have the problem that you do not have a retail store. You can put it on Craigs List, send it to auction, sell it to a dealer at a wholesale price (one half to one third of what he thinks he will price it), put ads in the paper, or try Ebay. I only found one similar set that sold on Ebay in the last four months, and it sold for $1,300. It was very nice, but probably not as nice as yours. Good luck and let me know how you do.

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