Archive for August, 2010

What is Mid-Century Modern?

August 24th, 2010 by

“Mid-century modern” describes an era in the history of design that began around 1945 and ended in the late sixties. Before WWII, popular architectural and furniture styles emphasized handcraftsmanship, ornate detail, and traditional materials like darker and heavier woods. But the visual art world (painting and sculpture) had been influenced just a few decades earlier by a movement called “modernism”, a visual emphasis on clean lines, contrast, elevation, and innovation in style and form. After the war, modernism began to influence lifestyle-related art forms as well, specifically architecture and furniture design.

Suburban living and economic prosperity began to expand during this time, and with these changes came a demand for mass produced, affordable furniture that could offer both beauty and function.  Home décor reflected a common desire to move beyond painful memories of the war and focus on innovation and the future.  Also, war-inspired advances in the aircraft industry made new manufacturing techniques and materials possible, like plastics and pressed molded wood.

Mid- century modern furniture styles were lightweight, affordable, clean-lined, and visually simple, and they made use of materials rarely before seen in furniture design, such as steel and acrylic.

Famous mid-century modern furniture designers include Charles and Ray Eames, Eileen Gray, George Nelson, Lilly Reich, and Isamu Noguchi. Famous manufactures such as Herman Miller and Vitra made names for themselves by building and selling the work of these designers.

Danish Modern Furniture

Many aspects of midcentury modern furniture design reflected an interest in organic, natural shapes that harmonized with the environment. In Scandinavian countries, this preference had already taken hold by the 1940’s. Danish and Swedish designers, inspired by long cold winters and a corresponding attraction to light, clean, warm shapes and natural materials like blond-colored wood, began to spread their influence across Europe and America.

Denmark had in turn been inspired by Japan; A relaxation of Japan’s isolationist policies allowed the elegant simplicity of Japanese style to flood into Scandinavia and lend additional polish to the simple and increasingly popular beauty of Danish design.

Two names of note in Danish modern design are Hans Wegner and Ingvar Kamprad. Wegner designed the iconic Danish modern piece known as the “Round Chair”, which was later used by Nixon and Kennedy in 1960 during the first nationally televised presidential debate. And Ingvar Kamprad founded the Ikea company in the 1940’s, which has been producing economically accessible Danish modern furniture since that time, though it’s only recently become a household name.

Vintage and Retro Furniture

By the late 1960’s, the passion for Danish modern and mid-century modern furniture design had more or less cooled. A fever for ultra-simple lightweight styles, space-age materials, and simple blocks of color had given way to the heavier structures of the 1970’s and 80’s.  But a mid-century modern revival is currently well underway, and the retro appeal of a Herman Miller Eames Lounge Chair, an Eileen Grey side table or an Isamu Noguchi coffee table now seems to be hotter than ever.

Vintage tastes have also been fueled by 1950’s decor on the sets of TV shows like Mad Men, and by a corresponding surge of interest in vintage 1950’s clothing and houseware styles.

It’s worth noting that while the shapes and color schemes of mid-century modern furniture have made a comeback, the manufacturing methods have not— Companies like Herman Miller are now making active efforts to create the old designs with updated, environmentally safer, and more sustainable materials.

By Erin Sweeney


Antique Lamps and Lighting

August 24th, 2010 by

A treatise on American antique lighting and lamp fixtures should begin with a history of lighting methods. Here’s a backward look at lighting in the U.S. divided into roughly four chapters:

  • Electrical wiring has been a standard part of building design since about 1920.
  • Between 1880 and 1920, modern homes and buildings were typically wired for a combination of electricity and gas—Gas lines in the walls of a house fed the lamp fixtures, and electrical wiring wound along the pipes. Both options were usually made available, since in the early years of electricity, power sources would often fail for months at a time.
  • Because Edison perfected the incandescent bulb in 1880, lamps wired for electricity don’t date before that time. Prior to the gas/electric combination, modern buildings created between 1820 and 1880 were lit by piped gas.
  • Before 1820, kerosene and oil antique lamps were the norm, complimented by candles, the earliest and simplest form of American lighting.

Knowing the lighting options available during a historical period, we can better understand how these options influenced the style and design of that period’s antique floor lamps, hanging lamps and antique chandeliers. The most beautiful and collectable American antique lamps can usually be associated with the following five periods/styles:

Arts and Crafts, 1905-1935: Frank Lloyd Wright is a name often associated with this period, though Arts and Crafts or “mission” style fixtures pre-date him by several years. This style is characterized by square glass shades, square oak lamp bases, and square oak frames. The parallel dowling seen on mission-style furniture is often reflected in lamps through the use of brass or copper tubes. Arts and crafts lamp designs are simple, geometric, humble, and functional.

Georgian Revival, 1905-1930: The word “Georgian” refers to an earlier form of English architecture, but it’s used here because Georgian furniture styles—including lamps and lighting– were making a comeback at this time.

This is an important epoch for antique lamp collectors, since the period gave rise to the Art Deco styles, crystal chandeliers, and “art glass” perfected by famous companies like Tiffany, Handel, and Stuben. Beginning around 1915, wires could be enclosed in safe cloth covering, which allowed them to be strung through a chain. This allowed electric antique lamps to be hung from above for the first time. Gas-electric combination fixtures gave way to chain-hung electric fixtures in large numbers during this era.

Victorian, 1880-1915: The Victorian period, possibly the most beautiful period in the history of antique lighting fixtures, documents the elegant transformation from kerosene and oil, to gas-electric combinations, to fully electric pieces. Victorian pieces are distinguished by curving brass shapes with intricate embellishments and detailing.

When searching for authentic Victorian pieces, make note:  These antique light fixtures were not hung from chains, and they were often designed to connect to the fuel/lighting source by tubing, not wires.

Eastlake Victorian, 1870-1900: Table and wall lamps from this period were fueled by kerosene, oil and gas. Also sometimes called “Italianate”, these pieces are characterized by their classical motifs—women in togas, urns, coats of arms, and animals. The functional parts of these lamps are usually made of iron or brass, and the detailing often includes slate, cut glass, or marble. Lamps of this era were not wired for electricity, and were usually designed to accompany Eastlake-style farmhouse furniture. (Envision heavy, veneered wood carved in parallel grooves).

Federal, 1700-1810: The most elegant and collectible pewter, brass, and silver pieces from this period were designed to hold candles (earlier) and whale oil (later, around 1800.) Colonial/founding-father-style candle lanterns, candelabras and candle chandeliers are very popular today. If you’re looking for authentic pieces, check for wax residue and evidence of hand crafting. And be aware that genuine fixtures from this era, though beautiful, are quite rare.

By Erin Sweeney


Marburger Farm Antique Show – Special Events Fall 2010 – Round Top, TX

August 24th, 2010 by

Tuesday Sept. 28 – Saturday Oct. 2

1. Extended Shopping Hours Tuesday Sept. 28 until 7 pm to benefit the Houston Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Food and beverages will be available, enjoy shopping in the early evening at Marburger Farm and support a great cause. A portion of the show proceeds will be donated to the Houston Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

2. Book-Signing for The French Inspired Home, new book by designer Carolyn Westbrook (CiCo Press). Carolyn will greet shoppers on Tuesday, Sept. 28 in the Special Events Tent near the Show Office from 11 am to 3 pm. Ask for her secrets on “How to Shop French at Marburger Farm.”

3. Food & Libations – New this show – beer, wine and margaritas. Enjoy a cold one in the Blacksmith Bar located on the Promenade.

4. Insider tips: In addition to the ten tents of vendors, be sure to visit vendors in the twelve historic buildings at the show. Many offer air-conditioning. All shoppers will receive “The Howdy”—the official guide to Marburger Farm with maps and vendor locations. Also look for the red magazine racks filled with free publications on antiques and home decor. The 43 acre site of the Marburger Farm Antique Show includes an ATM, air-conditioned restrooms, free wi-fi, free parking and a courtesy shuttle to and from the parking area.

5. The Parisian Cowboy’s Guide to Round Top, featuring many Marburger Farm exhibitors, will be available for purchase.

6. Register for the daily cash drawings by placing your admission card in the “Marburger Mailboxes” or at the Show Office front porch. Also stop by the Office for a Susan G. Komen for the Cure inspired T- shirt or a Marburger Farm “Peace, Love & Antiques” T-shirt.

7. Media: KTEX 106.1 FM Radio will broadcast live from the show on Friday afternoon Oct. 1.

Enjoy the music and free prizes, including Marburger Farm souvenirs.

8. More Media: On Thursday the Junk Mafia, based in Kansas City, will be at Marburger Farm spreading the word about antiques with their mantra – Re~Cycle * Re~Love * Re~Deem and Re~Spend.  Be sure to come by the media tent located on the Promenade while they broadcast the Junk in My Trunk Radio Show from 10 am to 11 am.   Their broadcast will be streamed on their website,, and also on the radio waves in Kansas City.

9. Guest Bloggers: Join Fancy Smith from and other bloggers in the lounge, Blacksmith Bar or café to keep your readers up to date. Visit the Cactus Creek website for information on free tickets to the show.

10. Marburger Farm is available to host your next event. During the antique “off season,” you can book weddings, receptions, reunions, graduation parties, birthday parties, anniversary parties or other events. For information, see or call Rick McConn at 713-703-6371 or Deborah Bradley at 979.702.1933.

Leslie Hindman Auctioneers – Fine Jewelry and Timepieces Auction

August 24th, 2010 by

View Catalogue Online

Auction Sept. 15th, 2010  10am

Treadway/Toomey Galleries

August 24th, 2010 by

20th Century Art & Design Auction

Sept. 12th  10am

Susanin’s – Buck Rogers Original Comic Art Prototypes, Toys and Collectibles

August 24th, 2010 by


August 23rd – 27th  10am – 5pm

August 26th late viewing till 7pm

August 28th 9am – noon


August 28th

Superstar apparel and a Celtics Championship ring electrified Grey Flannel’s $1.48M Basketball Hall of Fame Induction Auction

August 24th, 2010 by

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Induction pays tribute to those few, select superachievers whose careers have taken them to the pinnacle of hardcourt accomplishment. A traditional part of the annual slate of festivities held at the Hall to honor the titans of basketball is Grey Flannel’s Basketball Hall of Fame Induction Auction, which this year brought in  $1.48 million – a result the company’s owner, Richard E. Russek, described as “fantastic, especially considering there were 222 lots in the sale. The average lot price was $6,671, and 100 percent of the lots sold.” All prices quoted in this report are inclusive of 20% buyer’s premium.

Held live at the revered Hall of Fame on Friday afternoon, Aug. 13, 2010, the Fifth Annual BHOF Induction Auction featured scrupulously authenticated jerseys, championship rings, signed basketballs and NBA team banners. Collectors called the shots, with two items of 1960s player apparel topping the roster of prices realized.

1968-69 Bill Russell Boston Celtics worn home warm-up jacket, Championship season, final season, $84,000. Grey Flannel Auctions image.

Both a personalized 1968-69 Boston Celtics home warm-up jacket worn by Bill Russell during his final season and a 1965-66 Wilt Chamberlain Philadelphia 76ers game-used home jersey scored individual selling prices of $84,000. The red and white #13 Chamberlain jersey had the added cachet of having been from an MVP and scoring title season, and was a style used for one year only.

A unique and unprecedented selection of 12 personal mementos from the career of slam-dunking phenom and 2010 posthumous Hall of Fame inductee Dennis Johnson was offered by Grey Flannel with impeccable provenance. Each article was accompanied by a letter of authenticity from the Johnson family, whose members were present for Dennis’ 2010 posthumous induction to the Hall of Fame. Featured in a Boston Globe article prior to the auction, Johnson’s 1984 Boston Celtics World Championship player’s ring adorned with a diamond-emblazed shamrock motif, the name “Johnston” and other symbols and words associated with the storied franchise soared to $78,000. Johnson’s 1980 Western Conference game-used All-Star uniform attracted a winning bid of $24,000.

One of the auction’s Premier Lots, an autographed circa-1976 Portland Trailblazers home jersey worn by NBA legend Bill Walton, proved the enduring fascination fans have for the 1977-78 MVP they call “the Big Red-head.” Entered in the sale with a reserve of $5,000, the Walton jersey powered its way to a $72,000 selling price.

Another top performer was Elvin Hayes’ circa-1970 game-used and autographed San Diego Rockets home uniform. On the jersey’s front was the name “Rockets,” while the “E” on the back of the jersey needed no further explanation. After 23 bids that culminated at $60,000, the uniform was off to a new home.

The old-school appeal of a Dolph Schayes mid-1950s Syracuse Nationals game-used and autographed home jersey was further heightened by the fact that it is the only known Schayes jersey from his years with the Nats. Against a $5,000 reserve, it rose to a  $51,000 finish at auction.

Additional highlights among the game-worn apparel included a mid-1960s Gail Goodrich rookie-era L.A. Lakers autographed road jersey and a late-1960s Jerry West game-used Lakers home uniform. Each was sold for an impressive $48,000. Another Lakers treasure, a late-1960s Elgin Baylor game-used road uniform garnered $39,000.

Feb. 8, 1975 signed Pete Maravich 47-point ball, $33,000. Grey Flannel Auctions image.

The enduring fascination for mementos associated with the great “Pistol” Pete Maravich shows no signs of lessening. The second-youngest player ever inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame (in 1987, at age 39, less than a year before his passing), Maravich was described by the Hall as being “perhaps the greatest creative offensive talent in history.” Grey Flannel was proud to present at auction a 47-point game ball signed by Maravich on Feb. 8, 1975, the night of his sold-out return to the Atlanta Hawks. Offered with a $2,500 reserve, it was nothing but net all the way to $33,000.

“Our next sale is scheduled to be held on November 17th, and the leading item consigned so far is the 1961 #6 road jersey that Mickey Mantle began wearing in his spring training – wow!” said Rich Russek. “Anyone with great sports items is going to want to be part of this great auction, and we invite them to contact us about consigning.”

View the fully illustrated 2010 Basketball Hall of Fame auction catalog, complete with prices realized, online at Contact Grey Flannel Auctions by calling 631-288-7800 or e-mailing

Rago Arts & Auction Center – Discovery Auction

August 24th, 2010 by

Discovery Auction

Sept. 10th, 2010  10am

Sept. 11th, 2010  11am

Lambertville, NJ

Ivey – Selkirk Auctioneers & Appraisers August Jackson Rooms Auction

August 20th, 2010 by

Auction: Aug. 25th & 26th  9:30am

Saint Louis, Missouri

Dallag Auction Gallery – Antiques & Fine Art Auction

August 20th, 2010 by

Auction Sept. 1st  6pm

Featuring a one owner collection of English, European, and American paintings