Personal Effects, Nov 10

Published 4:43 am Friday, November 10, 2017

Question: Jerry, what can you tell me about this old wooden bucket. I think that the paint is original, it’s black and red. It is bound in brass strips and has a wooden bail handle. About how old do you think that it is? With that grungy paint, and I love it, it’s bound to have some age to it. What was this used for? Thanks for all you help.

Answer: I totally agree that the paint is original. Original and wonderful. I have often wondered how many wooden buckets, bowls, boxes and other wooden wares were stripped of their paint to showcase their plain poplar or pine carcasses. 

Back in the 1930s, and well into the 1970s, dealers and collectors paid little attention to original or old painted surfaces. Not so today. The colors are are nice and bold. Granted, it’s not a robins egg blue, sulfur yellow or apple green. But the colors are true and honest. That color could have denoted a particular use. More than likely it just was little pop of happiness in an otherwise dark pantry.

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I’m going to date it to about the 1870s or so. It’s machine made, as was typical for the new industrial age. Surprisingly, it was used the same way that we would use Tupperware. It could have stored apple butter, flour, rice or any other food stuff item.

It’s the paint that holds the key to value. It makes collectors perk up and pay attention. Remove the paint — clean it or alter it and the value is ruined. This piece like so many pieces have softened in value and appeal. 

Other attributes that are in its favor are its country feel, original turned lid and it’s large, but not too large a size. 

How I wish that you’d shown me a side view. A diamond shaped bail escuteche on could signal a Shaker. I’m going to value this bucket based on these attributes and say that it’s a good country piece. Still, I’d expect that this piece in a retail store or a good country show to be priced at about $300. Thanks for sharing it.