Danish modern chairs were offered in stores in the U.S. in the early 1950s. The Scandinavian designs were inspired by earlier furniture, the 18th-century English chair, a Chinese Ming dynasty chair, a Japanese director’s chair. Many of the modern chairs were made of hand-carved curved wooden pieces joined with dovetails to make a comfortable back, arms, seat and sides. Teak, oak, rosewood and light-colored woods were used with fabric, leather or caned seats. Hans Wegner of Denmark created his most famous chair in 1949. It is now known as “The Chair.” It was made and sold by Hansen/Knoll company for many years. “The Chairs” were chosen for John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon in the first-ever presidential televised debate in 1960. One of “The Chairs,” made in about 1969 and featuring a leather seat, the Knoll label and Hansen stamps, sold in 2016 for $610. Later versions of this iconic chair are available in shops and shows today.
Q: My husband owned an auto parts store and has just retired. We have several old advertising signs and lots of old car parts still in boxes we need to sell. Who would be interested in items like these?
A: Advertising signs sell well at advertising auctions. There are many auctions that have recently sold advertising items online. There also are online sites that sell auto parts. Antiques shops and flea-market dealers also sell old advertising signs. Car parts are a little harder. You might find a nearby car rally or car show and ask some of the participants. They might be interested in the boxes of parts. You also can advertise them in a local newspaper.
Q: I have a brass tea set that has sat unused for many years. Should I polish it or leave the natural patina?
A: You should polish your brass tea set with a commercial brass polish. If it’s heavily tarnished or corroded, take it to a professional. Some brass has been lacquered to prevent tarnish and should not be polished. Polishing damages the lacquer. If the lacquer is peeling, you should go to a professional restorer.
Q: Should I loan a number of my antiques for a fundraising event? They want me to set up my exhibit and leave it for two weeks. I would like to do it, but I am concerned about security and other problems. What should I worry about? None of the pieces are extremely valuable, but they are among my favorites and some are even family heirloom.
A: There is always a risk when you exhibit your collection. The exhibit should be in a secure building with a 24-hour security guard or electronic system. Security usually is good during a show, but during setup and after show hours, there are people who can get into the room. Before you pack the items, take pictures and list every item with your estimated value. Be sure the value is seen only to estimate insurance needed. Never advertise the value of your collections. Make sure there is a barrier between the exhibit and the public, perhaps shelves behind a large table, or a locked cabinet. Don’t exhibit any posters or prints in a sunny window. The sun will cause damage. Make sure the pieces are not remounted or altered. Decide before the show how the collection will be packed and returned. A non-profit show may be run by people with no idea of the cost of old things. We loan pieces to teach the public about the past and the joys of collecting, but we had a sundrenched poster fade to unreadable, a clever advertising sign stolen during a show and a figurine come back missing a hand.
Tip: Porcelain and stoneware can be washed, but it is best to hand wash the pieces and not to use the dishwasher.
Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.
Mustache cup, porcelain, white ground, blue flowers, forget-me-nots, gilt stems, loop handle, c. 1910, 2 x 4 inches, $20.
Mechanical postcard, Thanksgiving greeting, opens into booklet, Indian maiden holding turkey, Germany, 1913, $95.
Bread slicer, cast iron, turned wooden handle and slice tray, curved blade, Alexanderwerk, Germany, 1930s, 11 x 15 inches, $160.
Sewing box, tramp art, cigar box wood, notched and layered, pin cushion top, stepped flip lid, panels, block feet, c. 1905, 7 x 11 inches, $290.
Dough box, painted wood, Saint holding a skull, robe, turquoise scroll, rectangular, shaped, c. 1910, 6 x 35 inches, 1,200.
Sideboard, wood, Moroccan design, turquoise paint, oval and diamond panel doors, India, 1940s, 41 x 55 x 19 inches, $1,670.
Bronze censer, bulbous, bat shape handles, openwork lid, bats and clouds design, figural kneeling monkeys tripod base, 14 x 11 inches, $2,965.