Antique Detective: Novel Birdcages Rate Tweets

birdcage dutch delftBy Anne Gilbert
      Did you know that some birdcages are seriously collected and costly? In fact there are birdcages that look like buildings. These days no birds allowed in these 19th and early 20th century birdcages that can sometimes cost thousands of dollars. They can be an architectural design or a whimsical. They can be made of tin, brass, wood and porcelain.


      Architectural birdcages were popular in 19th century America, England and Europe and a “must” for wealthy Victorian homes. Popular at the time were birdcages that copied real buildings. This included replicas of their own homes. Others copied well known churches and museums.


      The typical Victorian birdcage was made of wood and wirework, topped with one or two domes.


      For centuries the Chinese have been creating birdcages that are works of art. Some were made of carved ivory and tortoiseshell. They are considered to have reached their peak of perfection during the Ch’ien-lung period (1735-1790) when caged birds were a status symbol. Even the more common rustic varieties of bamboo and teakwood, that are still being made in the old styles are being added to collections.


      In 18th century England entire rooms were devoted to live birds and their cages. Even furniture designer Thomas Chippendale designed birdcages. They often included Sevres porcelain feeding bowls and silver water containers.


birdcage architectural      At the same time the Dutch were making birdcages of wire, combined with Delftware inserts and bases.


      During the 19th century mass produced brass birdcages were created. Thousands were marketed into the 20th century.


      Birdcages were made during the 1920s, 30s, in the popular Art Deco designs using materials popular at the time. They were often designed by architects.


      It was pretty much over for birdcages in the postwar 1950s. The small, brass cages were utilitarian, not decorative. However, with the growing interest of antiques collecting in the 1970s, birdcages made a comeback as a decorative accessory and collectible.


CLUES: During the 1970s reproductions began turning up at antique shows. Many were artificially aged or painted. These days authentic oldies can be priced at auction from $500 to thousands.


PHOTO CAPTIONS: (1) Architectural birdcage. PHOTO CREDIT: (1) Helga Homer, Inc. (2) 19TH Century Dutch Delft birdcage. Sold for $28,125.00 PHOTO CREDIT (2) Sotheby’s.

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