Q: I have a tea cart my parents bought in England in the early 1950s. It has been used by our family ever since, but not for serving tea. It’s on wheels and has two removable trays. There are two metal tags on the rail. One says, “Staples Trolley, Prov Patent 22852/52.” The other says, “Made by Staples & Co. Ltd., Wire Mattress & Bedstead Maker to the late King George VI.” Can you tell me how old the tea cart is and if it has any value?
A: The patent is a United Kingdom patent dated June 12, 1952, for improvements to “tea trolleys, dinner wagons and like dispensing trolleys.” Your tea trolley was made shortly before your parents bought it in the 1950s. A tea trolley is what the English call a tea cart or tea wagon, a wheeled cart that usually has two shelves and can be pushed from room to room. It’s handy for transporting dishes or food from kitchen to table and back. The patent lists Staples & Co. Ltd. and Robert Garnett Heal as applicants. Staples & Co. was founded by Harold Heal and received a royal warrant of appointment as wire mattress and bedstead maker in 1923. Wooden trolleys from the 1950s sell for about $200 to $600, depending on design and condition.