Com­mode steps back in time

Waterloo Region Record - - Arts & Life - JOHN SEWELL

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.

Ros­alyn, Ot­tawa

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.

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