Table makers found creative solutions

The problem of making a table that takes up a small space but provides a large tabletop has been solved in many ways.

In the 18th century, especially in the South, where homes were made with large, long front halls, the solution was several matching tables. Two tables with drop leaves were kept against the wall on either side of the hall or near each other on the same wall. A center table that became larger with a flip-top or leaves was also used in the hall or perhaps in a nearby parlor. When there was a party, the three tables were moved together to form one large table that could seat 12 to 18 people.

A center table was needed in the days before electric lamps because the only light in the room often came from a single lamp on the table. If the room was small, the table could be made with large drop leaves on each side. To enlarge the table for family time or a card game, the leaves were extended and held in place by moveable legs or hidden supports.

The small-table problem was also solved with a nest of three or four tables, each a little smaller than the next, so they fit in the space of one table. Late 19th- and 20th-century designers created tables with removable boards or boards that could be pulled out on a track under the tabletop.

Modern tables are made using all of these ideas.

Q: I have a Sleepy Eye Milling Co. Cookbook shaped like a loaf of bread. It has no date and is in excellent condition. What is it worth?

A: The Sleepy Eye Milling Co. was a flour mill that operated in Sleepy Eye, Minn., from 1883 to 1921. Old Sleepy Eye was a Sioux Indian chief who was born in Minnesota in 1870. His name was used for the town as well as the mill.

The company promoted its flour with many advertising items, including cookbooks, calendars, paperweights, thermometers, thimbles, trade cards, postcards, fans, dough scrapers and many pieces of pottery, all of which are popular with collectors. Depending on condition, your cookbook would sell for between $100 and $200.

The Old Sleepy Eye Collectors Club,, publishes a quarterly newsletter with classified ads.

Q: I have a copper or brass ice bucket from the RMS Carpathia. It has an added metal plate that says "Please do not remove from first-class passenger cabin." Could this be a replica or is it the real thing? I found it in a shed on our property after my father died.

A: The RMS Carpathia was a transatlantic passenger ship that was part of the Cunard Line from 1903 to 1918. The Carpathia rescued survivors of the sinking of the Titanic when it hit an iceberg in 1912. The ship also carried supplies from Britain and troops from Canada during World War I. It was sunk by torpedoes from a German U-boat on July 17, 1918, off the coast of Ireland.

There are many replicas of Carpathia ice buckets because so many people want Titanic-related memorabilia.

Tip: Wicker should not be left outside in the yard. If the wicker is painted, it may survive a few seasons on a porch. Unimportant wicker furniture can be repainted about every three years. The paint will preserve it. Use two coats of paint and a coat of marine varnish; or for a natural finish, use a single coat of marine varnish.

Terry Kovel's column is syndicated by King Features. Write to: Kovels, (Las Vegas Review-Journal), King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019.