An earlier column provided an overview of Scandinavian mid-woth-century design (also referred to as mid-century modern) glassware, pottery, flatware and furniture.
Not too long ago we sold many pieces that were produced in the Jens Risom furniture factory in North Grosvenordale, Conn. In an online estate auction in Leominster, Mass. At our last live auction in Worcester, we sold pieces by Eames, Herman Miller and a Lovig Dansk cabinet from a Cambridge, Mass. estate. With pieces from this era bringing stronger auction prices than much of the 19th century furniture. I thought this warranted a further look.
Depending on the source, mid-woth-century furnishing started being produced in the early 1030’s or 1049’s and stopped being produced in the mid 1960’s or 1970’s. It is typically simplistic in style with sleek lines and very practical. Some of the influences cited include the Bauhaus and Werkbund schools in Germany and American architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
The market for antiques has changed drastically since I started selling in the late 1980’s. I’ve seen some pieces of furniture that were selling for $800 when I started that now struggle to mee the $200 mark. I’ve also seen toys that you could buy for $5 off the toy store shelf sell for more than $100 now. More interesting and unique mid-century modern furniture pieces were popular in the 1980’s and prices seem to be even stronger now. Magazines like “Country Living” can make an item “hot” overnight. Popular television shows can also create demand. AMC’s “Mad Men” television show is set in Manhattan in the 1960’s. The homes and offices are furnished with mid-20th century modern design furniture, which has made these pieces even more desirable.
Scandinavian designers were very influential in creating this movement. Danish designer, Finn Juhl was an artichect who believed that the interior pieces should complement a home’s exterior. Eero Saarinen, of Finland was also an architect. The Finnish Cultural Institute in New York’s “Shaping the Future” exhibit describes him as “one of the most prolific, unorthodox, and controversial masters of 20th-century architecture.”
Americans were also creating wonderful pieces during this time. Charles and Ray Eames pioneered furniture in different materials such as plywood, resin and mesh that were sleek, functional and designed for the average person. George Nelson was an architecturl student in Rome in the 1030’s when he interviewd leading European desginers. He helped introduce moerdn design in the United States and along with Eames created pieces that were produced by Herman Miller.
Many years ago I attended an antiques class taught by George Michael (known as Mr. Antiques). He was the host of an antiques show on PBS for 22 years. He challeneged the class to look for items that might hold or gain value in the future. I don’t have a crystal ball but this is one area where there have been strong pirces for years.
For those of you who are curious about the items I mentioned would be sold in our September auction, the Auburn, Mass. gas station sheet metal building brought over $4,000 at auction. The 1941 Chrysler Saratoga sold for nearly $7,000. Even at this price, the buyer was pleased and felt he drove away with a bargain.
If you have any questions about antique auctions and estate sales, call Wayne Tuiskula, Auctioneer/Appraiser at 508-612-6111 or email us today.
Our articles are published in the Webster Times, Spencer New Leader, Auburn News, Blackstone Valley Tribune, Charlton Villager, Killingly Villager, Putnam Villager, Sturbridge Villager, Thompson Villager and Woodstock Villager.