Sunday, May 31, 2015

Estate Sale in San Rafael (or Welcome to Living by Design)

I saw an ad on Craigslist for an estate sale that would include Mid-Century Modern furniture and lighting so I stopped by on Saturday for a look around. I fully expected the prices to be way out of my league and so, I was not surprised when I saw the set of Marcel Breuer chairs and little danish table marked at $500. Not knowing what I was looking at I took a few pictures and moved along taking in the Saarinen tulip table and chairs ($800) and various other iconic pieces of design that would lead me to much research over dinner that night. Though I didn't buy anything, I thought my time had been well spent as I actually saw and touched the works of art these designers had created and started to get a feel for the simplistic, no frills items they produced.

The sale was also open on Sunday and with prices discounted 50% to move the merchandise out the door I decided to return and see what I could pick up ... 

I had seen a lamp the previous day that embodied the 1950's modernism for me and when I walked in I went straight over to the corner it had been sitting in and YES it was still there. The tagged marked $150 was hanging from one of the lamp shades and though I was not able to find any references to the maker or the designer I knew I wanted this piece for our new house ... sort of an anchor for whatever was yet to come, something to build the decor of a room around. I took another look at the now $250 Breuer dining set and thought ... nope ,,, too soon, but I did grab a small sunburst kitchen clock and a couple of wavy looking aluminium candle holders and walked up to the counter knowing I could get a better price than the $104.50 asking price. I had been going to Estate Sales in the area for a few years, furnishing our old Farmhouse with a mix of European and Arts & Crafts style furniture and accouterments, and knew that Sunday at these types of sales was always negotiation day.  

I had 6 items in my arms (including the three shaded lamp!) and when it was my turn at the counter I asked about the Sunday discount and and quickly followed with an offer of $70 for the lot in my hands. The lady at the desk, looked at each item, nodded and wrote up the ticket SOLD! 

I had to re-wire and polish the lamp, polish both sets of candle holders, clean the clock from years of kitchen dust and oils, wash the Briard plate but had found a few little items that with a little research turned into a nice exposure to the MCM designers.

The lamp is still unknown but the clock turned out to be a well known and readily available (Ebay, Etsy, etc.) Spartus Starburst, the little Georges Briard Plate also lead me to MCM glasses and Ice Buckets, the candle holders were danish and suddenly all the influences on the American designers from the Europeans became apparent, the little Japanese candle holders showed me how Asia contributed to the 'Look' and finally, the Simtex Table Cloth designed by Russel Wright and coordinated with his Steubenville American Modern dinnerware lead me to his work and that of his wife, Mary, who so eloquently defined 'Easy Living' which in turn introduced me to the husband/wife team of Charles and Ray Eames.
The defining item
I still do not know anything about this lamp - if anyone knows manufacturer or date of production please let me know!  

Spartus Sunburst Kitchen Clock 
Wavy Stainless Steel Candle Holders

Georges Briard Dish
Simtex Russel Wright Table Cloth

Russel Wright designed tablecloth, made by SIMTEX in the 1950's
The tablecloth was a gorgeous piece of cotton woven unlike anything I see in the shops today. The colors match the American Modern tableware I have seen and the plaid is bold and symmetrical.

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