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Personal Effects

By Jerry Sampson
Contributing writer
Question: Hello Mr. Sampson, My 88-year-old mother has two nightstands that were her mother-in-law’s. They are unique as they have an upholstery board that was taken out and used for her breakfast tray in the morning. Think “breakfast in bed.” The upholstery is original.
The nightstands have inlay and have been kept in a home so they are in excellent condition. There are also two drawers and a shelf. The dimensions are 28 inches high, 21 inches wide and 14 inches deep. There is a marking on a shelf that has been burned in. No other markings or labels. The family lived in Chicago during this time but was very well off so it could have been imported. Can you help us figure out the maker/origin and what do you think it would be worth today? Thank you for your help.
Answer: Now this one was a challenge. However, I think that I’ve got it worked out the best that I can. That mark that you provided me with was a mystery, at first. A branded crown with a rose? That is the mark for the Baker Furniture Company and this crown mark dates to the 1940’s and was used through the first part of the 1950’s.
Incidentally, the crown represented tradition and the tulip represented Dutch craftsmanship and the “B”, of course, is for Baker.
Baker is a high quality furniture manufacturer that began in 1903 and is still going strong today. Funny thing about furniture, at one time there were so many furniture manufacturing companies in America that it boggles the mind. I mean they stretched all the way from Michigan and Illinois and down through North and South Carolina and certainly many other states. Many have come and gone in the years that Baker has been active.
I love these little bedside tables. It looks like that they are walnut wood in a very classy french style. Honestly, I’ve not seen any table before that had an upholstered, pull out tray or panel on the back.
Not disputing your word, but wouldn’t it be awkward to have to eat off of this flat surface… in a bed?
I combed through just about every furniture reference that I could find, to no avail, as to the actual purpose of these tables. Sadly, I didn’t have a reference from Baker but I’ll continue to keep looking.
Maybe these were for breakfast in bed, or as I think, for writing or playing cards in bed. Never the less, they are interesting and different.
A value was tough on this. Many very upscale vintage dealers put a premium value on Baker pieces. I mean some values are just scary! Bear in mind, that the major focus is on mid-century modern and not always the more traditional styles. But, Baker furniture ain’t cheap new or vintage.
Having said that, I would think that, in maybe a Lexington or Louisville market, that these would have a retail price of $300-$400 each. In a high end designer market, each one could be priced at $800 or more. But please take a grain of salt with that, OK. But, Baker furniture is very collectible. Thanks for sharing them with us.