Dear Helaine and Joe: Any information on this table and pitcher and bowl set would be of great interest to my family. The table was given to me in 1960 and at that time the table had matching chairs. But those were given to Goodwill. The pitcher was my great grandmother's and just has the word "Manhattan" on the bottom as a mark. — J.A. Ft. Myers, Fla.
Dear J.A.: During the course of a year we see lots of square, late Victorian center tables, and this particular example is probably English and was made circa 1890.
The claw feet that clasp wooden balls are indicative of this period and the twist turned legs, sometimes called "barley twists," are characteristically English.
Perhaps the most unusual aspect of this table is the X-shaped stretchers that crisscross as they run between the legs near the base of the table. These have metal figures of griffins or dragons resting on the outer end of each spoke, and the four mythical beasts form the supports for the lower shelf. This table was not meant to be a card table or a dining table, and for this reason we doubt that it came with matching chairs.
As for the white bowl and pitcher set marked "Manhattan," that was made by the Murphy Pottery Co. of East Liverpool, Ohio. This particular bowl and pitcher set is not very valuable because it is plain, unadorned white hotel china.
Currently, this bowl and pitcher should be valued for insurance purposes in the $150 to $200 range. The table, however, is a bit more expensive and it should be insured for between $450 and $600.
Helaine Fendelman is feature editor at Country Living magazine and Joe Rosson writes about antiques at The Knoxville News Sentinel in Tennessee. Questions can by mailed to them at P.O. Box 12208, Knoxville, TN 37912-0208.