Lazy Susans became extremely popular after World War II.
Dear Helaine and Joe:
I own a lazy-Susan-style cake plate on a rotating pedestal that is stamped “Fantasy Copperware Hand-wrought.”I was told this piece is more than 100 years old. Could this be true, and what is it worth?
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One-hundred years is a magic number. It is the age at which items typically become antiques, and it sounds like such a long time ago. Unfortunately, we doubt that this Lazy Susan has obtained that many years yet, but that does not diminish its interest or monetary value one little bit.
No one seems to know why a rotating device such as the one in today’s question is called a “Lazy Susan,” as opposed to, say, a “lazy Barbara” or perhaps a “lazy Robert,” but we do know that such devices have been around since at least the 18th century.
Lazy Susans became extremely popular after World War II. At this time, there was a great deal of experimentation with products made from various materials and metals such as aluminum, tin and copper.
The new “modern housewife”wanted to have a variety of colors and forms in her serving equipment, and manufacturers were happy to sell them a variety of housewares, including pots, pans, ice buckets and serving trays, for items that ranged from sandwiches to canapes. Lazy Susans were among these items.
Lazy Susans were customarily placed in the center of a round table and a meal was placed upon them. The easy rotation of this device facilitated each diner to be able to serve himself or herself without having to bother anyone else.
Today, a Lazy Susan will occasionally turn up in a home laden with condiments and perhaps napkins and other items that a family might need during the dinner hour, with no more “pass this” or “pass that.” But for the most part, if a Lazy Susan is found in operation, it will be in a Chinese restaurant.
The piece in today’s question is described as a “Lazy Susan cake plate,” which means (to us) that it must be too small to have been used as a turntable that was useful for an entire meal. Why a cake plate needs to revolve is open to conjecture, but it was probably designed for convenience and facility during the icing and decorating process.
Fantasy Copperware was a company that was located in Toronto, and it may have begun its business life as early as 1858, but it is certain that the company went out of business in 1958. It was known for making decorative wall plaques, candlesticks, bowls and plates — some with engraved decorative designs, others with porcelain inserts and still others, such as the piece belonging to A.F., with crimped borders.
The term “hand-wrought” in the mark on this piece is a little misleading. It means that there was probably some handwork in the crimping, but the majority of this piece was manufactured by machinery.
There is no doubt that the price of copper has gone up in recent years, and items made from this metal have become desirable. But at the moment, this mid-20th-century (circa 1950) Lazy-Susan cake stand is worth $35 to $50 for insurance purposes.
(Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson are the authors of “Price It Yourself” (HarperResource, $19.95). Contact them at Treasures in Your Attic, PO Box 18350, Knoxville, TN 37928. Email them at email@example.com.)