A Fortuitous Discovery on eBay
I don’t often find vintage design on eBay that interests me, outside of the vetted live auctions, but then I don’t spend much time looking, either. I can’t bring myself to sit at the computer long enough to make a dent in the vast amount of unfiltered visual information flowing across the screen at any given time. And when I am on eBay, I am most often looking for design and architecture books. So I was doubly surprised a few weeks ago when instead of books I was looking at furniture, and not just furniture but an unusual and interesting mid-century table. I apparently clicked on the wrong category, and my search for architecture books yielded a coffee table designed by an architect. Fortunately, I found a really interesting piece on eBay.
According to the description, the table came from a house in the Los Angeles area designed and furnished in the mid-1960’s by a Japanese-American architect. The table, which featured a top of solid laminated hardwoods and an architectonic tripod metal base, was purchased at an estate sale by an eBay dealer who primarily sold bric-a-brac, and was listed without any of the keywords or names usually addended to items such as this,
whether deserved or not. Fortunately, the description lacked certain keywords.
So, not only had I found a one-off design I’d never seen before, I had found a one-off design I’d never seen before that was not listed properly. I felt like I’d won the lottery, though the drawing was still days away. The opening bid was low, at a few hundred dollars, there was no reserve, and with four days left there was little action on it. I kept tabs on the table for the next few days, hoping it would sail through unnoticed, but prepared to bid competitively if it didn’t.
I entered my bid with a few minutes left in the sale, for an amount well in excess of the opening bid, and awaited the results. Fortunately, I had assessed the situation correctly, and though there was another bidder for the table, the knock-down price was still under $500.00. Unfortunately, the table was fairly large and was in Los Angeles, a continent away. Usually, shipping is a slam-dunk for me, as I work with several independent operators as well as the major lines. But in this case, the seller was used to shipping small items, not coffee tables, and preferred to send the top by UPS and the base via a pack and ship store. Not wanting to scotch the deal, I eventually demurred, though I knew there was a 0% chance the top (which weighed about 80 lbs) would get to me undamaged. I was not disappointed, as, unfortunately, I received not one but two tops, split longitudinally. Fortunately, I know a great refinisher, and the story has a happy ending, as seen in the pictures attached below. Incidentally, if anyone has any information about this table, corroborative or not, I would appreciate hearing from you.