Commode steps back in time
Q. I bought these library steps privately and was told by the seller they are from the 1920s. I paid $150 for them. I have researched, trying to find out in- formation on them, but nothing seems to be exactly the same as these. They are 81 centimetres long, 46 cm wide and 71 cm high (32 by 18 by 28 inches). There are no markings. The top of each step has a leather insert. Any help you can give would be appreciated.
A. You have a set of bed steps that is sometimes called a step commode. The design is based on examples from about 1810 that often had drawers and compartments for storage space and chamber pots. They are sometimes confused with library steps, which would be too awkward to move around for this purpose. Your English piece from the 1920s is mahogany — doubling as a bedside table with glass doors to display books for night reads. The insets add traction. They are not commonly seen. The base needs a little touching up but overall, it is in good shape — easily worth the $150 you paid for it.