Who is this chair?
June 26, 2011 2:36 PM   Subscribe

Where would I go to find out more information about a chair that we found at a thrift store. I want to know its style and if it is a collectible?

The link to the chair:

posted by cmh0150 to Shopping (7 answers total)
Also, the search phrase you want is "Thonet chair"
posted by sciencegeek at 2:45 PM on June 26, 2011

Yes, Thonet.

That said, since the design is so old and these things are so difficult to trademark, there are lots and lots and lots and lots and LOTS of Thonet knockoffs out there. You almost certainly do not have an "official" Thonet bistro chair from the Thonet company, according to Michael Thonet's original design. It's also highly unlikely that your chair is from the 19th century. The entire planet has been cranking these babies out in the millions for over 150 years now. They're about as collectible as a Poang.

If for some reason you think you might really have one of the original 1860's Thonet chairs, look underneath (usually under the seat somewhere, on modern dining chairs) for a mark of some kind. According to this ehow link, it should be something like THONET carved into the undersides of the legs or seat.
posted by Sara C. at 3:06 PM on June 26, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks to all.

On the bottom, there is a tag that has "Radomsko" and the numbers KJP 55 on the bottom.
posted by cmh0150 at 4:14 PM on June 26, 2011

Looks like this is the place for more
posted by rhizome at 4:35 PM on June 26, 2011

This implies that the Radomsko line started as an officially licensed Thonet factory in 1881. It's hard to say, though - everything that comes up when you search "Radomsko chair" or "Radomsko furniture" looks pretty sketchy.

You might do better by finding someone who speaks Polish, but honestly it seems like this is one of many companies manufacturing Thonet knock-offs these days.
posted by Sara C. at 4:48 PM on June 26, 2011

There is no patina, it doesn't look old at all.
posted by fire&wings at 5:05 PM on June 26, 2011

As someone who has a chair fetish ( and also shoes, and other well designed items...) I'm going to tell you to buy it if you love it.

Flip the bitch over and look for maker's marks. Even if you don't find a good identifier, use your best judgement.

I recently scored (off the street!) what was obviously a knock-off of a somewhat well-known turn of the century designer who was featured, coincidentally, later this year in an exhibit at the Huntington Library Gardens and Museum. I'm a member there, FWIW. My chair has no maker's mark, but I ran into the person who put it out on the street, and I have no doubt now of my my chair's heritage and design intent. As you do.

Never pay a lot for anything without a maker's mark, but do buy if the price is right.

You can tell a lot (age/quality) by checking out the fasteners (screws vs. wood plugs, etc.) just by turning the piece over. Regardless, screws can be a boon because you can have them tightened (or do that yourself) to make the chair more sound,

If you have a need and you find it sexy, buy it. That's my philosophy on old chairs.
posted by jbenben at 5:32 PM on June 26, 2011

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