This Old Erie House
By Linda Martin Community Blogger
Owners of old houses have so much in common that house talk comes easy between us. Please join in the conversation as we try to fix, restore and update our old Erie houses.  Read more about this blog.
Archive for the ‘antique’ category
Posted: December 31st, 2010

I received some more photos of Eriez stoves today. Thank you! To see all the photos click here to go to my Eriez Photo page.

These photos are from Tom Herwer. He said this first one sold at auction for $2600. It’s a beauty!

This is a 1904 Eriez.

Eriez 3-burner stove.

Eriez parlor stove.

Eriez stove and radiator.

Please send in photos of your Eriez stove. They’ll be added to the Eriez Stoves Photo page.

Posted in: antique, Appliances
Posted: December 3rd, 2010

I have a spot on my wall that needs filling with some kind of artwork.  I have my race-horse statue trophy that my horse earned 30 years ago  on the antique ice chest that also has a reproduction bronze-colored arts and crafts lamp on it.  I need something copper, brass or bronze on the wall to set it off.  My room is decorated in the craftsman-style but I have that one small area that I want to be my horse area.  I’ve never lost my love of horses.  I wanted my sister’s horse-head copper or copper-plated picture that I fell in love with more than 30 years ago.  I only saw it once.  But I loved it.  It belonged to her late husband’s grandparents that raced quarter horses in the 30s, 40s and 50s in the Los Angeles area and had many winners.  I emailed her and made a substantial offer for it if she still had it.  Her daughter that lives near her had it in storage.  It has been in storage since before the family moved to WA about 15 years ago and my sister passed it on to her and it never made it out of a storage box.

The daughter agreed to sell it to me but the frame on the picture was broken and the copper was very dirty.  I told her NOT to clean it at all.  I wanted the patina still on it.

Then my sister emailed me saying she saw a picture on eBay exactly like the one I was buying from them and so far it was selling for 99 cents.  What!!???  I already made a big offer for theirs.  I looked at it on eBay and I was a little stunned because I actually didn’t like the one on eBay.  It wasn’t what I thought I remembered and I remembered it being much larger.  How was I going to back out of this now? I wouldn’t though I’m sure they would have understood especially if one was going so cheap on eBay.  I was a bit bummed.  Maybe it looked better in person.

My niece found the picture in storage and sent a couple of photos to me.  I was so relieved.  It was very pretty. (See photos below) It was also not the same as the one my sister thought it was on eBay (she hadn’t seen it in so many years she forgot what it looked like.) The detail is amazing and I’m very happy now regardless of what it may be worth.  It is just what I wanted. I have to find a frame for it when I get it, which probably won’t be until after New Years.

I spent quite a number of hours trying to research who made this picture because my niece said there was no signature on it.  I thought it is Philip Di Napoli but now I found out that Gladys Brown also made some large Bas relief artwork. It may not be from either of them. It does remind me of a Saddlebred horse in parade gear.  Bridle has a frentera.  If anyone is a collector of metal horses and has an opinion on what mine is, I’d appreciate you commenting.  One thing I have noticed spending all that time researching these type of items, metal horses and horse heads, is there are a lot of cheap knock-offs even back in the vintage years just like there are of the pottery collectibles.  They have little or no detail from all the times they have made molds from molds and each time it loses detail and loses the graceful original form and detail.  When you come across a really good one, like the first ones these artists put out, they are expensive. You are most likely not going to find a really good one cheap. Not many will escape the collectors’ eyes.


Posted in: antique
Posted: November 26th, 2010

I have two Limbert Rocking Chairs that I bought more than 20 years ago from my sister who was having a moving sale back in California.  I didn’t know they were Limberts and I didn’t even know who or what Limbert was at the time.  I knew they were old, a little beat up and oak.  I bought them for $6 each which is what my brother-in-law had on the sale label.  I thought they were crazy selling them.  They belonged to my brother-in-law’s grandparents from back in the early 1900s.  At least if I bought them they would stay in the family.

Years later I saw a chair almost like mine in an antique store and the clerk pointed out that it had a hot-iron brand under the arm showing it was a Limbert chair.  I checked mine when I got home and they also had the same brand under the arm.

At some point mine had been reupholstered and no longer had leather seats.  The faux leather has ripped over the years but the chairs were still usable. I fell in love with these chairs and they have moved everytime I moved.  I had to refinish one because of damage to the finish during a move (I know it hurt the value but I’m never selling them.)

Today as I was dusting the furniture the duster snagged on the seat of the chair.  NOOOOOoooooooo!!  The spring has broken on the chair and poked through.
You can use chairs that have upholstery damage but you can’t use the chair with a spring sticking up to catch on your clothes or skin.  The seats on these chairs have to fit perfectly inside the framework of the chair.  I don’t believe I’ll be able to fix a spring.  I can reupholster regular chairs but maybe not something specialized like these.

Now I have to see what it would cost to reupholster and fix something like this.  Leather is out of our price range right now so maybe some kind of needle-point tapestry-like material would be nice.  Maybe even faux leather again.  Just really disappointed that this happened because I love sitting in the chair and the timing is bad with Christmas right around the corner. Maybe there is a book or video out there that can show me how to do it.  Who knows, maybe I’ll learn how to fix springs and find my calling. If anyone has reupholstered something like this, please comment on the difficulty of fixing the springs.

Posted in: antique, furniture
Posted: August 23rd, 2010

I’m currently involved with 3 projects at once.  Multitasking.  When my back hurts from one, I move to the other. The weather turned wonderful.  Low 70s is my kind of temperature and makes me want to work.  I put on my earphones and turn on the audio book and I’m in my own little world.

I finally got around to putting the Waterlox on the dining-room floor (I did the living-room floor back in Dec/Jan.)  I am using the same method I used with the living room.  I put painters tape along the boards to divide the room in half and moved all the furniture to one side.  When the finished side is cured, I’ll move the furniture back to the other side and finish the remaining floor.  It looks good so far.  It will have to cure for 7-10 days before I can start on the other side. (photos to come soon.)

In the meantime I am stripping the back stairs that leads from the kitchen to the upstairs landing.  I haven’t decided what finish to use yet.  The oak front stairs was just completed in the garnet shellac but the pine back stairs borders the kitchen with the natural heart pine woodwork so I may leave those stairs a natural color, too.  I’ll just use Waterlox if I do.  I’m only halfway done with the stripping of the back stairs. I tried both the strong chemical stripper and the Peel Away 6.  Both are so messy. The chemical is so much faster but requires thick gloves and being really careful. Even a little splatter will burn your skin.  Of the parts I have already stripped, the chemical cleaned it best. The downside to the chemical stripper is I can’t leave for a moment in case one of the cats happens down the stairs. Another question I have to answer is if I want to sand out all the marks and dents on the treads.  It’s part of the allure of “antique.”  Some of the treads are worn down in the middle from a century of use.  It would be nice to have the stairs look spanking new but I love the history in the old look. I think the sanding will be minimal. It is what it is, old stairs.  People often try to make their new wood look old like this.

My husband and I bought the paint for our kitchen.  It has been on our list since we bought the house but we just never got to it.  It’s not all that big of a project so why live with ugly dirty, green walls and a green ceiling?  Yesterday we said, “Let’s just do it.”  The worst part will be cleaning those old high ceilings and repairing the cracks.  My neck hates that stuff. It’s the pits to be short and everything seems harder when you are short.   My husband volunteered to do the ceiling. I say, “Have at it!”  We picked a light pale yellow.  It looked pretty light at the store but I knew through past experience how yellow yellow can be when it is up on the wall.  I have the paint sample card up on the wall this morning and I think we picked the perfect color.  We haven’t found a lighting fixture yet that we like for the kitchen.  I’ll keep my eyes open on eBay to try to find a restored vintage lighting fixture that will look right in our kitchen and doesn’t cost a fortune. There is also a foot-square grate near the ceiling.  We want to take that down and see what the original color was.  It is painted green like the walls  now.  I think it would look really nice black and I have a feeling that is the original color.

Posted: August 10th, 2010

Wow, this has been a long project.  It involved a lot of experimenting with shellac, shellac on-shellac off and also dealing with humidity.  I had a few-day window of lower humidity this past week and finally was able to finish them.  I’m really happy with how they turned out.  I tried different sheens by adding a shellac flattening agent.  I ended up with a moderate amount of sheen.  The flatter it is, the less mistakes show but I love the sheen.  In the photo you can see on the step’s riser second from the highest step shown, on the left-hand side, there is a small section that is still dull which I have now fixed.  I didn’t even see it until I took the photo but thought I’d let you see what a difference in sheen a little Shellac Flatt makes. I previously coated the whole stairs in the flatter sheen but didn’t like it and put a coat over it and had missed that spot.

Today, in a separate post,  I’ll tell you the shellac recipe (using some ammonia) I used for the stairs. There was no stain used on these white oak stairs.  The color comes from many coats of garnet shellac. Some of what you see on the stairs are reflections from a stained-glass window on the left. Also, half way up you can  see the grain pattern and rays of  a quarter-sawn riser. A few of the risers are quarter-sawn with the rays and some are not.  I’m not sure why they wouldn’t make them  uniform when they built it but the patterns are so pretty I embrace the ones we do have.

Posted in: antique, finishes, stairs
Posted: April 20th, 2010

Due to overuse of my knee….again…I have to lay off the work on my stairs for a few days, which is 2/3 done. So, in the meantime, I’ll blog about other things.
We were in the process of making an offer on our house when the real estate lady told us the owner-ladies selling the house thought we probably hated the wallpaper and would love the chandelier hanging in the dining room. The opposite was true. I kind of liked the wallpaper at the time, but not at all looking back at it. And the chandelier was pretty bland and was not of the arts and crafts style at all. More colonial in style, I guess. I’m thinking it may be from the 40s. It just didn’t fit the style of the house.

We have searched high and low and across state lines to find the right fixture to look right in the house. We finally found one in New York state (which, if you live in Erie, is not very far away.) We found some fixtures that needed too much work but this one was restored and ready to hang, and in our price range. I would have loved to have the gorgeous art-glass shades but we have to be practical. They can be added at some future time when the utopia promised by our politicians comes true. I won’t hold my breath and I really do like this fixture anyway because it is of the period of our house.

So here is a photo of a light that is very similar to ours except we have different shades and there are only 4 lights. Ours is from 1910 and is still in the box and stored until we get to hanging it but this photo will do to give you the idea of what it looks like.

These are the type of shades I’d like to add to the fixture at some point. This photo came from I like the iridescent shades.

Posted in: antique, lighting
Posted: April 2nd, 2010

I posted about my Eriez Stove a few years ago in my personal blog. I couldn’t find much about it and I had people emailing me asking me how much I thought their stoves were worth. I had no idea! I wondered the same thing about mine.

I’m making a page in the sidebar for Eriez Stoves and I hope anyone searching the web will stumble upon it and provide their photos and information regarding Eriez Stoves.

Mine came down through the family. I loved it in front of the fireplace but with our new configuration of the furniture, that spot is reserved for the flat-screen TV (when we do get one some day.) I moved it in front of the window in the dining room and will most likely put a potted fern on top of it. Even though there isn’t a great place to put it right now, I love the stove and am going to keep it.
This is what my Eriez stove looks like. (Continued after photo.)

Mine is a gas heating stove. It had been converted to have a red electric light inside to look like it was operating. I have since removed that so I can put candles in it. From the research I’ve done it seems Eriez Stoves sold mostly cooking ranges in the later years. They sold their buildings to the Marx toy company in 1936. I have an account with and have found some sketches of some Eriez stoves in some old ads but really no information. If you have an Eriez stove, range or radiator and wouldn’t mind sharing a photo, please email me and I’ll post it on the Eriez Stoves page. Any additional information would be nice, too. I can’t advertise it for sale or give you an appraisal. I just want to have a central place to compare photos but can give contact information for those providing photos if they want.

Here are a few links to information regarding the Eriez Stove Manufacturing in Erie. I’m guessing any Eriez stove would have been made prior to the date of sale, 1936, to the Marx company. However, I read somewhere that they had opened a base of operations or warehouse in the Los Angeles area at some point so I don’t know if that kept operating or not.
pamphlet showing Eriez gas ranges (an ebay item, the link may not be good for long.) Scroll down towards the bottom to see the photos.
an application for patent on a new model of Eriez stove 1931.
1936 Eriez Stove Co. buildings bought by Marx.

Posted in: antique, Appliances
Posted: February 23rd, 2010

I was going to fill the grain on the boards we just took off just the other day but these boards hadn’t been stripped with stripper. After seeing them in the light I realized I had scraped them with a paint scraper and card scraper. Some of the other baseboards I had used stripper but not these. My memory is shot but it was a long time ago because I started too many projects at once and it’s taken a long time to get back and finish some of them. So I won’t be using the Timbermate filler on these like I had planned except on the very top that has the round-over detail and some frayed parts on the end cut. When you use the scraper method instead of stripping to get the old finish off, the pores mostly likely will still be filled with finish so you won’t have to fill the pores. I’m becoming a big fan of scraping the old finish off instead of using strippers.  Even the safe strippers are a big mess.
Look at all those long nails. It made it so hard to get these off. The big board is the 8-inch wide baseboard, the other the window bottom trim board. Note the two grooves sawed into the back of this board.  The reason is because they are wide and by cutting into the back, it cuts the grain tension so the board won’t warp with the differences of humidity.  Much like cutting the edges of a pork chop or bacon to keep it from curling up when you fry it (that’s what I read somewhere.)

When we got the bottom trim board off of the window we were amazed at the beautiful quarter-sawn rays (tiger oak) that was on the unfinished back of the 4-inch wide board. Quarter-sawn is the way they cut the board.  It is more expensive and gives you these beautiful rays going across the grain of the wood.

The board also has a beautiful aged brown (almost like fumed oak) color to it which makes the rays stand out even more.This part of the board the rays aren’t as perpendicular to the grain as other parts of the board.  The board is 8 ft long so there is going to be variations. It would make a pretty piece of furniture but it is going to be refinished and put back to its original spot under the front window.

Below…This is the front of the board in the photo above. The front finish was so bad that it hid the rays. The light areas is where the finish separated and it is peeling up like dried egg whites. I’m assuming someone, at some time, put another finish over the shellac and it wasn’t compatible over the years.
Most of the woodwork in the house had the same bad finish, some more than others so I decided to refinish all of it.
The board is also blackened on the edges where air must have passed over it over the almost 100 years. I noticed this with most of the baseboards we took off. Some kind of soot. The original heating source is radiators heated by a gas boiler and still is. Our kitchen had a wood-burning stove. We can tell by the covered circles of where the stove pipe used to run through the wall. I suppose after time soot builds up behind even the tightest areas where air may get to. In this picture you can see the soot (it’s not mold) where the boards were behind the radiator. I never got the old wallpaper off back there. After we got the boards off I started scratching at it again. There is only about 3 thick layers here. There were 5 on most the other walls but they are really glued on good. Maybe they skipped a couple of applications of wallpaper back there because it doesn’t really show. The photo makes it look like a lot of room back there but there is about 6 inches between the radiator and the wall.

As I looked at our board, I started wondering how much a board like this would cost today.  It’s old-growth, quarter-sawn white oak but only in the real visible areas did they use the quarter-sawn oak in our house.. I looked it up and was shocked. It is not uncommon to cost $30 a board foot for the old-growth QS white oak. Woodworkers making the craftsman and/or arts and crafts-style furniture pay high prices for such wood. I shutter to think people actually would PAINT over this increasingly rare old woodwork because they don’t want the hassle of refinishing it. Worse, some have just torn it out and thrown it away.  Their loss.

I found this website article really interesting. It tells you how you can tell the old-growth oak from the new oak with photos.

Posted in: antique, baseboards
Posted: February 18th, 2010

So far I’m a bit disappointed. I mail ordered the Timbermate Wood Filler because it sure looked like it worked really well in the YouTube commercials. It’s water based and no waste as you can add water to the sanded off powder and reuse it.

I first tried it on about a 6 ft piece of 8-inch wide, old-growth white oak baseboard.

I diluted it down to the consistency of thick paint and smeared it on the board. I left it proud of the surface so I could sand it down flat and smooth. When it dried I started sanding it off with 120 sandpaper. The directions said not to use coarser than that. It sanded pretty easily and turned into a powder like corn starch. You can save the powder and add it back to the bucket and reuse it. It sanded off nice and smooth. Then I brushed on my first coat of garnet shellac. The white-oak colored Timbermate took on the color of the garnet shellac and looked good. But the grain and ridges still started to build like it does when I don’t use wood filler. You can really see it in the raking light.

Shellac has that tendency to “pucker” up along the ridge lines because of the surface tension of the quick evaporation of the alcohol in it. I ended up having to do just as much sanding and rubbing back as I normally do. Maybe I sanded it down too far.

In the next try I made the mixture a little thicker and this time I sanded it off using 320 sandpaper and didn’t sand down all the way down to the wood. I could see the grain but I didn’t feel the grain. It took a lot longer to sand with the 320 sandpaper. I thought that would work better than my first try. It did, but I still didn’t get that nice smooth surface you see on the commercials. I think perhaps it was because of the nature of shellac. I did get my final smooth surface with no grain showing with less rubbing out. I guess I was looking for miracles.

I have more baseboards to do. My next try will be to put Waterlox Original on top of the grain filler as a first coat and let it dry overnight. Maybe if I can keep the the shellac from soaking into the grain filler, it won’t pucker up on the ridges. I’ll let you know how that works.

Posted: February 12th, 2010

Thursday: Feb 12, 2010

I’m having a heck of a time refinishing the woodwork in my house because it is oak with deep grain and pore patterns. Either you have to use a grain filler or you have to put on lots of coats of shellac and sand it back until the pores are filled or it looks really cheap. I’ve been doing the latter. It’s been a battle on all the window woodwork, the colonnade, and the stairs. I tried grain filler before and it was so much more work because it dried like cement. I even tried using a watered-down plaster mix for the filler but it didn’t take the stain well and the one window has a “pickled” look to the grain. It would work well for something painted that needed the grain to be filled and it certainly was cheap! I’ll have to redo that one at some point because it isn’t painted.

I saw a commercial for Timbermate on YouTube and ordered some. It came yesterday and was frozen solid and hidden in a snow drift that developed on my porch. I didn’t hear the doorbell ring. But right on the package it says it is not affected by being frozen, thank goodness. Hopefully I’ll get to another of the baseboards this weekend so I can try it out. I’m moving right along on my projects but at a snail’s pace.

I also received my quart of satin Waterlox so I can top coat my baseboards to cut the (garnet dewaxed shellac) shine to a satin finish. I have “Shellac Flat” but I like the way Waterlox dries so slowly and evenly for my top coat plus the extra protection it will give for spills and other accidents that may happen (we have cats.)

Hopefully soon, I’ll have some photos to show you how good it turned out (or not.)