Thursday, 4 October 2012

20th Century Design auction.

I attended a local auction of 20th century design at Woolley and Wallis in Salisbury. I was surprised to see this original Shaker Mount Lebanon No7 chair for sale and was even more surprised to see the bidding stop at £320, well short of the £400 reserve. I nearly bid but I have a lovely chair made by Brian Boggs which is similar and not to my wife's taste.
The wood was thin and extremely delicate and it was in very good condition.

Here is the makers stamp on one of the rear rails.

This is a Robert Mouseman oak stool which was in good condition. The estimate was £200 -£300 and it went for £320, these are very collectable.

Here's a close up of his trademark carved mouse on the front edge of the seat.

This office chair by Charles and Ray Eames was very comfortable and it good working order, its build quality was so much better than anything you can but today. With an estimate of £80 - £120 this was definitely tempting, although I didn't get a look in with bidding finishing at £300!

This was a very fine refectory table by Ernest Gimson. It was on the small side at just over 6' and was beautifully proportioned, I wasn't the only one to think so and it went for £7,000, way above the £2-3,000 estimate.

Here is another very fine table this time by Gordon Russell, it had the same reserve as the Gimson one above but only went for £2,000.

This was a modern Carl Hansen Wishbone chair designed by Hans Wegner. A great looking and very comfortable chair although I didn't like the plastic feeling black lacquer and it only went for £220. If you want one of these much better to go for one from the 1970's they feel and look much nicer.

And pictured below is my prize, the only reason I attended the auction. A large 12" wide bowl in Mahogany (not Rosewood as per the catalogue) made by the late great Alan Peters. It had an estimate of £80 - £120 which I thought was very reasonable; so did others and I had to part with £220 + commission to get it.
I gave it a good clean with orange oil and '0000' wire wool and then two thin coats of Osmo satin matt to bring it back to former glory. I am happy.


  1. Hello David,
    When you say "made by Alan Peters" was it actually made by him, I am intrigued by the notion particularly with Alan Peters but also with some other furniture designers that most of their designs were also made by them, which is quite untrue. The furniture making course I attend is tutored by one of Alans ex chief makers, he worked for Alan for 15 years and in that time Alan made very very little.
    Still a lovely bowl whether made by Alan or not.

  2. Hi Mark, You are right, a bowl like this would not have actually been made by Alan but it is to his design and stamped accordingly. Does it matter? I'm not sure. The world would certainly had less of his furniture to admire if he had done all the work himself.
    I'm guessing you are being taught by Steve Hopper at Bridgewater College, a great craftsman.
    All the best, David.

  3. Hello again David, I am a fan of Alan Peters work and of course he was a great maker in his day, his methods of workmanship have been adopted as the fine furniture making bench mark. All of his employees would have had to work to his exacting standards under his watchful eye no doubt, but I think it does matter when a great designer fails to acknowledge the skilled craftsmen who produce the work, it should be a partnership of equal measure, one without the other does not do very well. Chris Tribe wrote a bit on this subject in his blog.I think all pieces when exhibited or promoted in the media should be labelled Designed by, Made by, and even Inspired by.
    Yes, Steve is a great craftsmen and a good designer, but I wonder how many people recognize his name compared to Alan Peters even though he made some of Alan`s more notable pieces.

    Regards, Mark White

    1. Hi Mark, I agree many of these fine makers are totally anonymous and it would be very good if furniture acknowledged them.
      All the best, David.