Antiques & Collectibles: Tea carts are linked to centuries of tradition

Recent sale prices for mid-20th century tea carts range from $50 to $130, based on condition.

Question: What can you tell me about tea carts and the one shown in my photo? - R.S., Somers Point

Answer: Today's tea carts originated during the 1600s and 1700s in England where they were small, elegant tables used to serve the exotic beverage brewed from loose, dry tea leaves - an expensive commodity kept safely locked away in mansions and manor houses.

By the late 1800s, when loose tea was more available and less expensive, afternoon tea parties became fashionable gatherings enjoyed by Victori-ans abroad and in America.

At the turn of the last century, portable tea tables with rolling wheels and a handle - known as tea wagons, tea carts and tea trolleys - had become functional furniture found in upper-class homes.

During the 1920s and 1930s, American furniture makers produced delicate, formal tea carts made from mahogany and walnut. Described as American Colonial Revival furniture, the pieces combined design elements from earlier periods.

After World War II, as interest in colonial and Cape Cod-style architecture and interior design burgeoned, sturdier maple, walnut, fruitwood and stained or painted softwood drop-leaf carts became fashionable.

Made by manufacturers such as Tell City, Carlton, Imperial, Drexel, Kling and Ethan Allen, such carts were popular until the 1980s when wagons made of glass, chrome, brass, Lucite and mirror replaced them as cocktail carriers.

Your cart closely resembles a mid-20th century model made by Kling Factories, a New York furniture manufacturer founded in 1911 by a Swedish immigrant and sold to Ethan Allen, Inc. in 1962.

Recent sale prices for such tea carts range from $50 to $130, based on condition.

Question: I have a set of four Beatles Yellow Sub-marine figural banks given to my late brother during the 1960s. Each painted composition head-to-waist figure - 7 3/4 inches high, 4 1/2 inches wide and 3 inches deep - is in its own box bearing a "Pride Creations Inc" sticker and Beatle name I.D. "Pride" is inset on each figure's concave bottom and a coin slot is in the back of each head. Your comments about the set and its collectible worth are appreciated. - F.A., Swedesboro

Answer: Following their legendary 1964 American debut on the Ed Sullivan TV show, Beatles George Har-rison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr rapidly rose to the peak of rock and roll stardom. Within a year, the four young Liverpool lads were featured in their own television cartoon series and later starred in the 1968 animated "Yellow Submarine" film.

As their popularity rapidly grew, millions of Beatles toys, games, clothing and household items as well as novelties such as clocks and your banks were purchased by exuberant fans. Today, Beatles memorabilia continues to be a favorite collectibles category.

Made in 1968 by Pride Creations, Inc., boxed, brightly decorated Yellow Submarine figural banks are sought after when they are in like-new condition and complete with original rubber stoppers used to close coin retrieval holes.

Although plastic and ceramic reproductions made during the 1980s and 1990s often are offered as originals, they are easily identified by flat bottoms and coin slots in various body locations.

Authentic Yellow Sub-marine figural banks currently bring as much as $480 for a Harrison, $400 for a Starr, $340 for a Lennon and $325 for a McCartney. A complete set of four banks in excellent condition sold for $3,000 in 2011.

Alyce Hand Benham is an antiques broker, appraiser and estate-liquidation specialist. Send questions to: Alyce Benham, Life section, The Press of Atlantic City, 1000 W. Washington Ave., Pleasantville, N.J. 08232. Email:

Letters may be used in future columns but cannot be answered individually, and photos cannot be returned.

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