Q: Years ago I bought a large oak picture frame that has bars on it like a cage. There is a painting of a tiger behind the bars. The front of the frame is bowed out slightly and it looks like the tiger’s eyes are following you when you walk past it. There is a label on the back of the frame that says “Chicago Mission Furniture Co.” It also says that it is “fumed.” I’d like to know what that means and if this is of any value.
A: The Chicago Mission Furniture Co. was in business from 1904 until the 1920s. It was founded by four men who had worked at another furniture company but left to form their own company when employees went on strike. “Fumed” oak is oak that has been exposed to ammonia fumes, which darken the color of the wood. The longer it is exposed, the darker the wood gets. This type of “moving” picture used to be popular, but they don’t sell for much more than an ordinary picture frame now. Value today: about $150 to $200.