Water bucket bench sat outside the kitchen

  • Water bucket benches were made in the 1800s.

    Water bucket benches were made in the 1800s.

  • Reinhold Merkelbach made steins in Germany.

    Reinhold Merkelbach made steins in Germany.

By Anne McCollam
Posted12/1/2019 7:01 AM

Q: This is a photo of an antique pine bench that belonged to my parents when they lived in Florida. When they gave it to me, they told me it was a water bench. It is approximately 17 inches high and 33 inches wide. Although I think it has been refinished, there are signs of it being used over the years. My parents have passed away, and now I wish I had asked them more questions about its history.

I hope you can tell me something about its age, origin and value.


A: You have an antique water bucket bench. Many similar benches were made in the 1800s in Pennsylvania. Because of the simplicity of its sturdy structure and economy of design, it falls into the category of primitive antiques. Before the industrial revolution, primitive furniture was usually handmade by carpenters or farmers. They used local woods, often pine or birch, to make benches, chairs, tables, cupboards and chests. Some pieces were painted, wood-grained or decorated with stenciling. Before indoor plumbing, water bucket benches were often placed just outside the kitchen door near the water pump. Someone in the family helped to keep the buckets full and easy to reach for the homemaker who was working in the kitchen, cleaning and cooking. The benches were exposed to the weather, and those that survived often show the effects of the elements. Today, collectors find the clean lines and lack of adornment of antique water bucket benches fit nicely into homes. They can serve as benches in mudrooms and entrances.

Your water bucket bench was made in the 1800s and would probably be worth $175 to $275.

Q: I am enclosing the mark that is on the bottom of a German stein. It is in the shape of a young girl, stands about 8 inches tall and is in excellent condition. Included with the mark is the word "Musterschutz."

Any information you can provide will be appreciated.

A: You have a character/figural stein that was made by Reinhold Merkelbach. The factory was founded in the Westerwald town of Hohr, Germany, in 1845 by Wilhelm Merkelbach. They made 29 character steins in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Some had pewter lid rims and were numbered. "Musterschutz" is the German word that means an object is "protected against copying," the equivalent to the United States term, "copyrighted."

The mark you provided was used from 1882 to 1933. Your stein would probably be worth $325 to $499.

• Address your questions to Anne McCollam, P.O. Box 247, Notre Dame, IN 46556. Items of a general interest will be answered in this column. Due to the volume of inquiries, she cannot answer individual letters.

© 2019, Creators Syndicate

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