Modern furniture estate attracts buyers

PITTSBURGH – Furniture – mostly from a contemporary collection – soared at Dargate Auction Galleries’ early December auction.

There were over 550 buyers from around the U.S. who were there particularly for a collection from the estate of a Princeton, N.J., architect that included pieces by a number of master designers, including Swedish designer Bruno Mathsson and Danish designer Hans Wegner.

The pieces represented the mid 20th century Modern Movement, with its pure and simple geometric lines.

Other European designers included were Eileen Gray, Le Corbusier, and Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe. American design was represented by Charles Eames, George Nelson, and Florence Knoll.

Hans Wegner provided the top furniture lot, an unusual valet chair with lift seat for storage underneath, signed by furniture producer Johannes Hansen of Copenhagen, Denmark.

After vigorous competition between two phone bidders, it went to a New York City buyer for $4,800.

A set of five of Wegner’s Danish design walnut open armchairs, with wrapped cane seat and back, sold for $2,100 to an Ohio phone buyer, and two additional chairs, without the wrapping and with leather seats, sold for $700 to a Pennsylvania buyer. An additional set of twelve Wegner “E-legged stacking chairs” sold for $950.

A “Folding Table” designed in 1935 by Sweden’s Bruno Mathsson and made of natural birch extended from 15 inches to 110 inches. It went for $2,200 to a Massachusetts buyer.

Le Corbusier, a pseudonym for Swiss/French designer Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, is known as one of the most influential architects of the 20th century. He designed furniture with many features of the Arts and Crafts movement. A black leather and chrome Le Corbusier chaise sold for $1,600 to a Pittsburgh collector.

Other Le Corbusier pieces included a plush black leather cushioned three-seat sofa with a chrome frame, in excellent condition, for $2,200, and a glass and black metal frame dining table for $450.

Eames pieces. Three pieces by Charles Eames included a light-wood folding floor screen, measuring 75×67-inches, for $2,900; an organically designed black leather covered aluminum and rosewood lounge chair with ottoman for $1,400; and an Eames’ molded plywood lounge chair for $585.

Two additional black leather and molded wood lounge chairs with ottomans in the Eames “style” brought $575 and $700, respectively.

Also auctioned in December were a selection of Gustav Stickley furniture, European porcelains, paintings and drawings, musical instruments, a number of pieces of glass, and several sets of silver flatware.

An Aaron Gorson framed painting, a nighttime industrial scene of a steel mill, was bought by a Pittsburgh collector for $19,000.

In the miscellaneous category was an original Victorian bird cage automaton with three singing birds, that brought $3,400, and a 19th century Sonumbra lamp with a white marble base and fluted brass columns sold for $650.

Prices listed do not include Dargate’s 15 percent buyer’s premium.

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