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What's it worth – Vintage silk lamp shades

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Q: I inherited a glass table lamp with a large, ornate cloth shade. There is a label on the lamp that reads "Imported Lead Crystal" and another that says it was "Made in West Germany." The lamp and shade were bought in Chicago in the 1940s.

Due to the sentimental value, I would like to have the shade restored. I have contacted many lamp shops, but haven't had any luck. Do you have any suggestions? — C.G.

A: Before 1949, there was no West Germany (Federal Republic of Germany) so this lamp dates from the early 1950s. The glass parts most likely were made in Czechoslovakia and the lamp assembled in West Germany.

There are a handful of specialized shops that make and restore early silk lamp shades. After looking at several on the Internet, I came away believing some of the best restoration jobs were done by Vintage Shades in Temecula, Calif. Since it is all hand work, it does not come cheap.

Vintage Shades owner Kelly Whitham says, "Fabric and trim are removed and any rust cleaned from the frame. The shade is rebuilt using similar new silk and the old trim, if it was saved." The price — around $600.

You can see before and after lamp shades at, email Kelly Whitham at or call (951) 240-5663.

Q: My husband inherited two chairs from his aunt, and none of his relatives seem to know anything about them. There is an armchair and a side chair, both reupholstered. What can you tell us about them? — P.N.

A: Though it's hard to spot in the photos, the carved head of Boreas leers from the top rails of this pair of matching chairs, manufactured around 1880. Boreas is a character in Greek mythology, god of the north wind and winter.

In the late 19th century, depictions of Boreas were used by many American furniture factories. Manufacturers of woodcarving machines presumably sold the dies. They also copied each others most popular designs.

Late Victorian oak and mahogany furniture with Boreas or north wind carving is popular and sells for a premium, in this case around $425 for the pair of chairs. If they were minus the Greek god, they would be worth considerably less.

Email questions to with a jpg digital image, or send a complete description with a clear photograph to Jay Moore, Flair Department, Richmond Times-Dispatch, P.O. Box 85333, Richmond, VA 23293.

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