Discover Vintage America - April 2014

Mystery doors came from 19th century China

Q: We are trying to learn about this door that we have and see if it is something valuable. We have had it for many years and through a friend of a friend, bought it from a gentleman in the UK.
He said that he had bought it at an estate sale decades ago and said he believed it was a door from a castle in China and is hundreds of years old. So that is what we have gone with, "A door from a castle in China". We're just not sure. It seems very short for a door.
We have reached out to several "antique dealers" across the country and all state that they have never seen anything like it. The dimensions are - 62" tall - 32 1/2 " wide - 2 3/4 " thick
I have included a number of photos. If you can help us or know anyone who can, we would greatly appreciate it.

A: You clearly do have a Chinese style gate door typically found not only in the entranceway to "castles" but to many private homes as well. The reinforcement is typical of pieces manufactured in the mid to late Qing Dynasty era.
Based on the construction, which includes bent-over tipped nails, it appears that it is likely not much older than the late 1870s and clearly was an outer door, as the inside is not finished. Earlier doors would not have that type of nail. These are sometimes called decorative "barricade" doors, which were intended to deter entry from unwanted guests. Today it is considered an architectural antique.
The typical market retail would be from $2,500 to $4,000 in most markets, pending actual condition and demand at any given time.


Currier maritime prints are copies

Q: I have two lithographs signed "N. Currier" showing sailing ships. They both measure 8"x10". Other text on the bottom of the lithos is–Lithograph by N. Currier - C. Farsons Del D. McFarlane PINXT Clipper Ship "Dreadnought" Off Tuskar Light. The second shows–Lithograph by N. Currier - F. F Palmer Lith Clipper Ship "Young America". When I look at them through a magnifying glass I can see a bunch of little dots and lines.

A: You have two later chromolithograph print reproductions of Currier maritime prints that were reproduced from earlier images. They are not hand-colored and would not have been produced from the original stone used by Currier. The original print stones were significantly larger than the size of your prints. They were originally done in 'folio size', which would generally be on a 21 3/4" x 27 3/4" sheet of paper. Yours have been reproduced using a mechanical reduction process so as to make them a more standard 8 x 10" size. Your prints were executed on laid paper and date to the second half of the 20th century. These are considered decorative framed wall art images and not original or later executed Currier prints for collector and investment purposes. Therefore, the values are determined as framed decorator pieces and sell for $50 or less for each.


Note: All prices given are for sale in a private sale, antique shop or other resale outlet. Price is also dependent upon the geographic area in which you are selling. Auction value, selling to a dealer or pawnshop prices are about half or less of resale value.

Michelle Staley is a Lenexa, KS-based dealer and researcher with 35 years of experience in the antique trade. Send questions with photos to Michelle to Please keep queries to one question; questions without photos of the item may not be answered. Michelle is also available for consulting and extensive research work beyond this column. If you would like an appraisal on an antique or collectible please go to for a one on one appraisal.