Next up on the auction circuit is the Wright Mass Modern Sale, being held on June 21 and 23. Of note for two reasons: there are fewer and fewer mid-market items at the top auction galleries, for simple economic reasons; and most lots at this auction are being sold without reserve. So, this is an opportunity to purchase some well-vetted pieces of modern design at very modest prices. No reserve means just that–an item will sell for $100 or less if it does not attract multiple bids. Note, however, that the lack of a reserve will not prevent spirited bidding on desirable items, so be careful if you are bidding on the phone or live online. See below for some personal favorites to pay attention to, along with some handicapping.
Lot 103. Raak floor lamp, Netherlands, c. 1970’s. Estimate: $500-700.
Nice example by this company.
Will probably sell for over the high estimate, but is a good value up to about $1,500.
Lot 125. Roger Sprunger swiveling chair, c. 1970. Estimate: $600-800.
Sprunger took over at Dunbar when Edward Wormley left. This is a quirky
and seldom-seen design from a period that is reasonably hot in the market now.
A steal at or near the estimate range.
Lot 180. Enorme telephone by Sottsass Associates, c. 1986. Estimate: $300-500.
In original box. A colorful and delightful piece of design, but watch out
for auction fever—since his passing, Sottsass’ work has been hotly contested.
Lot 206. Donald Knorr chair for Knoll, c. 1949. Estimate: $3,000-$4,000.
The upholstered version of a rare and important American post-war design.
Awarded first prize in the MOMA 1950 Low-Cost Furniture Competition.
Undervalued, as much American design from this period, and a bargain at or
below the low estimate.
Lot 280. Milo Baughman chest for Murray Furniture, c. 1954. Estimate: $1,500-$2,000.
A still under-appreciated American designer whose work is coming onto the radar
at the top auctions. Career spans the period 1946-1970’s. See lot 610 for another
Baughman case piece.
Lot 318. Ray Komai chair, c. 1949. Estimate: $300-500.
An iconic American mid-century design. A steal in the estimate range,
still a good value anywhere under $1,000.
Lot 360. Ceramic candlestick and bowl by James Lovera, c. 1965. Estimate: $700-900.
Nice combination of pieces by a gifted California ceramist.
Lot 372. Finn Juhl chair for France & Sons, c. 1950. Estimate: $700-900.
A sculptural Finn Juhl design illustrated extensively in the design literature of the time.
Might slip through at under $1,000, certainly a bargain anywhere near the estimates.
Lot 386. Arthur Umanoff room divider, c. 1957. Estimate: $2,000-2,500.
Graphically interesting, nice mix of materials. Screens and dividers can
do well at auction, this one should be no exception. Watch for it to
go well over the high estimate, but it is still a hard-to-find piece that fits specific decorating needs.
Lot 569. Paul McCobb wall-mounted shelf, c. 1955. Estimate: $1,000-1,500.
Nice configuration, but wall shelves are prized at auction so don’t
expect this to sell cheaply. Note that the white glass top has cracked and needs
to be replaced. Note also that white glass is no longer easy to obtain, and that
condition reports need to be read, something not done by all bidders.
Lot 640. Pair of Cees Braakman lounge chairs, c. 1954. Estimate: $1,500-$2,000.
Sculptural organic forms. The Dutch designer Braakman is well-recognized
in the market, but is not at the moment particularly hot, so a chance to acquire
one of his most visually striking designs at a reasonable price.