What kind of furniture is this?
September 17, 2008 12:38 AM   Subscribe

I received a furniture set from the 20's (or the 30-50's). The family legend is that the set was made by a very famous Danish designer and is worth 15k. Anyone recognize these?

My great-grandfather is something of a legend in the family- he made (and lost) three large fortunes. This desk set was supposedly purchased during one of his highs in the 20's or 30s (but there is a competing family story that says it was purchased in the 50's). My Mom says it is worth fifteen thousand dollars, but there's a fair amount of . . . inflation in my family, shall we say.

I like it a lot and will keep it regardless, I'd just like to know if I should be treating these like valuable investments or everyday furniture.

The set includes a desk, and credenza (visible in the first picture) and a bookshelf (darkly in the corner of the second picture). Ignore the desk with the computer equipment on it- not part of the set. Sorry for the quality of the pics- the furniture is still in storage and this is all I've got.

Is this Danish? It sort of reminds me of Danish modern stuff I've seen, but I know nothing about furniture. Bonus points if you can name the designer and/or tell me how wrong my Mom is on its value.
posted by stewiethegreat to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
You can look on eBay for Danish furniture makers and get a sense of what's out there. Look for "Eames", "vintage", "retro" and "Danish" in the antique furniture and you'll find lots of listings. I was given a table that looks similar to this and I've found an exact version on eBay with bids around $200 max so it would surprise me if these were worth $15000. Mine was from the 1950s. Good luck, though - I hope they are worth more!
posted by sagwalla at 1:32 AM on September 17, 2008

I don't recognize your set. They remind me a bit of these Art Nouveau chairs. Whether or not they have the value you've estimated I couldn't say. One of the great things about designer furniture is sometimes you just can't tell. Maybe that's why I love AD so much, there is always some wonderful, hidden surprise waiting in its pages, something I wish I could afford but never will be able to. Regardless those look like nice pieces, I honestly wouldn't be surprised at all if they had some significant value, but I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't either. Could be a job for the Antiques Road Show.
posted by IvoShandor at 1:46 AM on September 17, 2008

Oh, and an update- my Mom says "I think it is Dutch, not Danish like your Grandpa said." Just to further muddy the waters.
posted by stewiethegreat at 1:55 AM on September 17, 2008

Taschen has inexpensive books about furniture design. If there is an auction house not far from where you live you can phone and ask if they can recommend a design furniture expert.
posted by Baud at 2:44 AM on September 17, 2008

There are some very expensive pieces of furniture with inexpensive knockoffs that look the same out there; just to further muddy the waters.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:30 AM on September 17, 2008

It's very unusual for a table (from that period) to be sold for $15k in Denmark. The biggest (and most expensive items) auction house in Denmark is Bruun-Rasmussen. The ebays prices sagwalla mention sounds resonable for this kind of furniture.
posted by flif at 4:37 AM on September 17, 2008

For 90+ percent of Early and Mid-Century Scandinavian furniture, any builder (and many designers and importers) of repute would have stamped the furniture with their brand (France & Sons, FH, etc.). Check the undersides and backs of the items. If they aren't marked with a medallion or sticker, paint or stamp, they're probably nothing collectible or valuable.

To my experienced but non-expert eyes those pieces look neither Scandinavian nor collectible though the provided pictures are weak for ID'ing purposes. (It would be more beneficial to see the joint work, especially under the table and the inside fronts of the buffet drawers.) That said, if there's no ID somewhere, provenance is very hard to prove and the items would be priced as knock-offs. Lastly, it's not super often that a knock-off is done of a lesser-known piece and, to me, since those don't look familiar, I doubt they're that, either. They simply look like well made pieces from a competent cabinet-maker.
posted by Manhasset at 8:01 AM on September 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

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