Q.I have what I think is a mammy’s bench I bought quite a few years back. It has been lovingly used and is unique because it has two gates (for twins) instead of one which allow the mammy to sit on the side and rock the baby safely. I would like to know more about it and maybe its value.
A. The “mammy” bench was first created on Southern plantations for the “Mammy” (a female house slave) who was responsible for taking care of the children. A combination of a cradle and a rocking bench, mammy benches usually had plank seats and spindle backs. This one is painted black with gold paint striping which was popularized by Hitchcock chair around 1820-1850. The popularity of the mammy bench spread to other areas of the country from southerners who travelled north for summer vacations to escape the heat. Travel from the south abruptly ended in 1861 with the beginning of the Civil War. Mammy benches (depending on condition) sell for $200-$400 at auction. Better examples sell for around $800 retail. The “twin” version, though not as common, would not necessarily add value.
Q. My husband picked up a piece of pottery at a yard sale last year. Thus far we have determined that it is a piece created by William Wyman, a professional pottery maker from Massachusetts. I was wondering if you might be able to tell us something about this pottery, such as its usefulness and its value, if any.
A. William Wyman was a potter who operated Herring Run Pottery in East Weymouth, Massachusetts. Wyman was born in Boston in 1922 and produced pottery from 1953 until shortly before his death in 1980. He produced a variety of stoneware objects ranging from planters to architectural murals. Particularly popular were his “slab” vessels which he referred to as “temples” which paid homage to rock n roll, poems and cartoons. He produced the ovoid shaped vase similar to yours in many styles and glazes. Others similar in the dark brown black glaze have sold for $100-$150.
Karen Waterman is a fine art, antique furniture and decorative arts appraiser in the East Bay area and will answer as many questions about your own “hidden treasures” as possible. By sending a letter of email with a question, you give full permission for use in the column. Names, addresses or e-mail will not be published and photos will be returned if requested. Send e-mails (digital photos are encouraged) to email@example.com. Send snail mail to East Bay Newspapers, Attn. Karen Waterman, P.O. Box 90, Bristol, RI 02809.