Research Revisited-Harvey Probber piece

 Bent Mahogany Base is held by a brass stretcher rod.  Probber did have some famous dining chairs that also utilize the brass rod and curved slats but we all know there are tons of knock offs or just plain likeness designs out there, I just really wanted to see this in print.   

Bent Mahogany Base is held by a brass stretcher rod.  Probber did have some famous dining chairs that also utilize the brass rod and curved slats but we all know there are tons of knock offs or just plain likeness designs out there, I just really wanted to see this in print.   

Earlier this year I won a beautiful little side table with a bent wood slatted x base.  Not many turned up but the piece along with a similar magazine rack seem to get attributed to Harvey Probber.  If you know me at all, you know I never believe others when they say ‘attributed to’ and prefer to do my own research. Over the summer I was able to review a Probber catalog at the Philadelphia Athenaeum Museum, which is basically an architectural museum and library.  The small catalog was more of a brochure and did not contain the table.  I did, however, discuss what I was looking for with the librarian who recommended I check both Winterthur and Hagley in Wilmington, DE.  Both of these museums are in the realm of the DuPont family and document industrial history.  I checked Hagley’s holdings and they had 2 Probber items I could review.  Unlike most places I visit, they were able to pull them while I waited.  

***RESEARCH TIP***  Most larger libraries have off site storage and it is very important you make an appointment in advance to review something specific in the collection.  

I am not an experienced Probber dealer so I could not determine much by the construction alone.  It was obvious there was veneer used. The design was impressive and the use of the brass piece was definitely not your average look but I needed to learn more. Check out the catalogs are always a help.  Sadly, there are really no resources online for Probber and his works that I found.     I must say, after making the trip to Wilmington, I so enjoyed the perusal.  So first I looked at The Kill Collection.  It was a thin catalog that just featured pieces from this collection.  Everything in this collection is metal.  It is really lovely but not was I was looking for.  The Librarian returned with the other catalog.  This always makes me take a deep breath as I wonder if I will find my answer or go home with more questions after exhausting the 3 catalogs that are housed within 2 hours of me.  When I took a look at the tabbed hard cover bound book, I was optimistic. Where to start?  I turned to the Occassional section first. There were some side tables in the area but I did not find my table.  My heart began to sink again.  By this point, my goal was to get as much info out of this book as possible.  There were wood chip samples of the finishes offered. I also realized that Probber sold directly to the trade. That means in order to buy his furniture, you needed to be working with an interior designer or architect.  That cuts out a lot of middle America and also reminds me that these designer high end pieces will not be found easily.  

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I flipped to the beginning and started to find small pieces again so my optimism returned.  And finally, I found what I was looking for.  I high fived the kids, who had reluctantly accompanied me on this trip, and sat for a bit taking it all in.   

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 Finish options. So cool that the sample chips were included! 

Finish options. So cool that the sample chips were included! 

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There were also plastic laminate chips of which only a white one was still intact.  I believe my top to be plastic laminate.  This particular piece and the magazine rack were not listed in the price list. Bummer.  This book was a 1957 publication, by the way.  

So excited I was able to authenticate this piece! I hope I get to visit the Probber catalog again in the future! His designs were fabulous and I would call him more transitional than mcm purist.  Unlike many of the lower end pieces, these are less kitschy and fun and all grace and elegance.  

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Prior to my stop at Hagley, I visited a fabric outlet in Newark.  It was worth the stop even though most fabrics were $20 or so a yard.  I picked up 5 yards and feel like I know where I am going with that Knoll Antimott Chair now.  I often hate to commit to fabrics and colors without a buyer but intelligent me knows most people don’t have enough imagination to choose.  I wanted something colorful with a bold print.  I have 3 yards of this (yellow/blue) I want to make the cushions out of.  I also got 2 yards of another navy/turquoise/royal geometric weave.  Both fabrics are indoor/outdoor and treated for fade resistance and sun protection but feel like a standard upholstery fabric. I think they will both do great in dining chair and high use applications.  Stay tuned!  If you are interested in purchasing the Knoll Antimott chair, there is still time to dictate the details.  Reach out!  I am half way through my income tax class and still very busy.  Working on adding new listings in between homework.  Please keep your eyes to my shops so you don’t miss anything!

LOCAL?  RENTALS FOR PHOTO SHOOTS!  looking for the perfect accessory for photographing the kids? If I have a piece you’d love to borrow for a day or a few hours, let’s chat!  I know I have some friends in photography and I would love to work out some rentals for your holiday shoots!  

NEW ARRIVALS!

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Awesome petite church pew bench. Only 53”! Pinterest this and see how hot they area! In a dining nook, foyer or hall, mud room and so much more!  Can work with primitive, eclectic and farmhouse looks too.  This pew came out of a church in South Jersey years ago.  The family is relocating to the west coast and leaving some things behind.  Painted, chippy finish, antiqued.   

 Smalls include 2 huge glass pharmaceutical bottles, a neat pair of wood owl salt and pepper (grinder) made in India and a real clean scale.  Listings will be up soon.  Another treat for me.....that great wrap! 💕👌

Smalls include 2 huge glass pharmaceutical bottles, a neat pair of wood owl salt and pepper (grinder) made in India and a real clean scale.  Listings will be up soon.  Another treat for me.....that great wrap! 💕👌

Please note if you are searching for large furniture items in time for the holidays, I suggest you commit now.  Greyhound can take up to 2 months and this year has been on the longer side.  White glove shipping as well can take that long.  My uship guys are a little quicker but it really hinders on where they are in the schedule when we book them.  Pick up can be a week or two out.  I take care of all the booking and logistics for you so no worries! Let me assist you in creating a cozy home for the holidays! XO MALISSA

Hans Wegner and who's the Murphy in Murphy Bed?

So over the years, I tend to not keep my high end finds, preferring to improve them and send them on their way. I spent last weekend picking up many new items and some will be sold but there are 2 that will be staying with me! I am super excited to be able to take in a Ry Mobler- Hans Wegner designed teak Murphy Bed with shelving system that includes a secretary. It was offered to many other dealers and because it is such a specialized piece, no one wanted to take on the risk and of course, the effort that goes along with bringing the piece up to snuff to sell. It totally is rare and also, many of these dealers did not trust it was a legit Wegner design. We all know he did work for Ry Mobler, but unless you find a catalog or ad, you can never assume that a designer who worked for a company designed everything they put out. So with that said, I picked up the piece where it was being stored and got it home. In the mean time, I spent some time considering using it in my son’s room rather then selling. Sure, it could be worth thousands in my retail markets, but my son also lives in our smallest room and having a built in desk area would be nice plus when he leaves for college in 7 years, the option of folding a bed up into the wall is very appealing. Murphy beds are quite popular in the NYC market and my former job at the millwork shop produced more than one custom bed for clients. The hardware itself to accommodate the bed was probably a grand alone at cost. I welcomed the opportunity to host this piece in my home and also know that in 10-20 years, it may be worth even more.

One evaluation, my husband and I made a mental list of what needs to be done to bring the piece back. The finish needs some work and I am thinking a light sand, danish oil and then sealed with a top coat. I am going to do some research. I want the finish to be durable and have a sheet to it that danish oil alone does not give. The leather loop at the top of the bed deteriorated and broke off. I immediately thought of the saddle shop near us that works with leather to have one recreated, but my husband suggested looking for a leather belt in that size at a thrift shop. Why did I not think of that? So I plan on grabbing the piece next time I hit the thrift store to see what I can find. It just needs to make a grab loop and will be easy to recreate by punching a hole through the ends and re securing it to the screw. Also under consideration is a system of mounting the cabinet to the wall. We all know 1963 (as dated on the piece) was not a super child friendly period and I also read that since the inception of the Murphy Bed.

The bed is named for William Lawrence Murphy (1876 – May 23, 1957), who applied for his first patents around 1900. According to legend, he was wooing an opera singer, but living in a one-room apartment in San Francisco, and the moral code of the time frowned upon a woman entering a man’s bedroom. Murphy’s invention converted his bedroom into a parlor, enabling him to entertain.[1] Earlier foldup beds had existed, and were even available through the Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalog,[2] but Murphy introduced pivot and counterbalanced designs for which he received a series of patents, including one for a “Disappearing Bed” on June 18, 1912[3] and another for a “Design for a Bed” on June 27, 1916.[4]

Murphy beds are used for space-saving purposes, much like trundle beds, and are popular where floor space is limited, such as small homes, apartments, hotels, mobile homes and college dormitories. In recent years, Murphy bed units have included options such as lighting, storage cabinets, and office components. They have seen a resurgence in popularity in the early 2010s due to the weak economy, with children moving back in with their parents and families choosing to renovate homes rather than purchasing larger ones.[5]

In 1989, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the term “Murphy Bed” had entered common usage so thoroughly that it was no longer eligible for trademark protection.[6]
— Wikipedia
 The closed bed features a beautiful rattan panel, leather grab loop which we are recreating, straps that will secure the mattress when lifting and a nice latch that holds it all in place. We will need to replace one of the straps and add a buckle.

The closed bed features a beautiful rattan panel, leather grab loop which we are recreating, straps that will secure the mattress when lifting and a nice latch that holds it all in place. We will need to replace one of the straps and add a buckle.

 The bed will fit right into the cabinet.  The original mattress was pitched and I would not have used it anyway, but it would have been nice to have to recreate one.  We hope to jam Trent’s ikea mattress in as it is a few inches too wide.  Length, however, is perfect! 

The bed will fit right into the cabinet.  The original mattress was pitched and I would not have used it anyway, but it would have been nice to have to recreate one.  We hope to jam Trent’s ikea mattress in as it is a few inches too wide.  Length, however, is perfect! 

So my next step was to prove the provenance of the piece. This is not always easy. I use lots of tools on the web and spend lots of time searching. Sometimes I get lucky and turn up the proof, sometimes, I do not. This took me about 24 hours to turn up, but I managed to find the original 1964 ad for this piece which did attribute the design to Hans Wagner. So think about this….you can probably go to any decent art museum in a city near you, and find something of Hans Wagner on display because he certainly was one of the mid 20th century greats. And now I own one of his pieces! It’s crazy and I am so thrilled.

 Apparently George Tanier imported many high end pieces from Denmark.  If you find his stamp on your piece that is a good sign it is a better piece.

Apparently George Tanier imported many high end pieces from Denmark.  If you find his stamp on your piece that is a good sign it is a better piece.

 Ry Mobler stamp which is also on the piece.

Ry Mobler stamp which is also on the piece.

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I will say the construction is teak board under teak veneer. There is no MDF in this piece. Most danish casework does use veneer over MDF and that practice is still being used today as my job built $300,000 kitchens made the same way. MDF if a very strong substrate. Solid teak board today would cost a fortune and it would be crazy expensive to recreate this piece in today’s exotic wood market.

 See the grain in the wood? You can tell it is solid board and not mdf (medium density fiberboard) where you would notice shredded pieces of board were glued together and foamed into a new board, usually with formaldehyde.  

See the grain in the wood? You can tell it is solid board and not mdf (medium density fiberboard) where you would notice shredded pieces of board were glued together and foamed into a new board, usually with formaldehyde.  

I will keep you all posted on my progress on the piece as I work on it.  My son cannot wait to move it into his room!  

My next weekend rescue has been in the works for a year.  I finally picked up my future couch! This amazing Craft Associates piece spent the last 25 years in a barn.  We pulled it out on Sunday and literally unearthed it. I am not ready to take it for upholstery work but I have lots to do before I get that far. It is moldy and will require some extra rehab projects that I can start working on a while.  It is safely in my garage and hopefully drying out.  Will be documenting this process as well.  Stay tuned!  

 My first project will be removing the walnut facade and cabinet. I can work on refinishing the wood, eradicating the mold and replacing some bad MDF in the cabinet bottom.   

My first project will be removing the walnut facade and cabinet. I can work on refinishing the wood, eradicating the mold and replacing some bad MDF in the cabinet bottom.   

 We will need to remove the steel support bars, clean up the rust and repaint.  I will also look for replacement casters and either sourcing walnut legs or having them turned.  

We will need to remove the steel support bars, clean up the rust and repaint.  I will also look for replacement casters and either sourcing walnut legs or having them turned.  

 The end result is going to be worth the work! 

The end result is going to be worth the work! 

NOW FOR MY NEW INVENTORY ITEMS! 

 Set of 4 Farstrup Mobler dining chairs.  I will custom recover the seats in fabric you choose from my stash, black vinyl or I can source something for you to order. They are listed in the Etsy shop, coming to chairish.   

Set of 4 Farstrup Mobler dining chairs.  I will custom recover the seats in fabric you choose from my stash, black vinyl or I can source something for you to order. They are listed in the Etsy shop, coming to chairish.   

 Amazing hard to find Thonet arm chair designed by Pierre Paulin in cobalt! It is not perfect but in usable condition. Retains inventory tag from York Graphics.  

Amazing hard to find Thonet arm chair designed by Pierre Paulin in cobalt! It is not perfect but in usable condition. Retains inventory tag from York Graphics.  

 I picked this awesome 20s/30s era deck lounger up the other week and made a new seat out of indoor/outdoor fabric from F Schumacher.  It is now available in my Etsy shop. 

I picked this awesome 20s/30s era deck lounger up the other week and made a new seat out of indoor/outdoor fabric from F Schumacher.  It is now available in my Etsy shop. 

 This great set needs some rehab before I list them but I love these mid century transitional  styles and the cane is on point. 

This great set needs some rehab before I list them but I love these mid century transitional  styles and the cane is on point. 

IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO ADD SOME FINE FURNISHINGS TO YOUR HOME PRIOR TO THE HOLIDAYS OR PURCHASE A GIFT......please make your selection soon as it may take up to 8 weeks to arrive if I have to ship with a shipper or Greyhound.  Don’t be scared, I am here to help you the entire way! I would love to help you select the perfect piece!

THANKS FOR FOLLOWING! I am continuing my sale at the Mall space this week.  Please grab some fun kitschy decor items at my rock bottom price. 20% off one item, 30% off multiples!  

 SHOP WED-SUN 10-6, @Fleetwood Antique Mall, 14129 Kutztown Rd Fleetwood PA 19522

SHOP WED-SUN 10-6, @Fleetwood Antique Mall, 14129 Kutztown Rd Fleetwood PA 19522

XO MALISSA

‘Working Girls’ Book Release and Lecture in Reading, PA; where it all began.

I want to share something fun I did a few weeks back. I bought a newspaper mainly because I wanted to comb the want ads for job listings.  There was a super article in the weekend supplement regarding a new book written about some 1890’s photos of brothel women discovered by a gentleman at a sale out west that he spent over a decade researching. He linked them to Reading PA as there were 2 shots of women reading the same paper I had bought!  Beings he had published prior books and had the means in which to get this story out, he was able to document these wonderful images he bought and pieced together some of the history.  My interest was piqued and the article announced his local book signing and lecture, the next day!  I asked my mother to accompany me and no surpise, she did not seem as interested in the story as I. Not really wanting to go alone, I resorted to asking my husband. Although he was not thrilled, he agreed.

The event was held at the Berks County History Center in Reading.  I never knew it existed! My husband had been there to fix their phone lines for work and was familiar with it.  We arrived in time to enjoy some snacks and walk around the museum which was excellent! If you are local, it is a great retrospect of the history in Berks with homestead, wartime and industry artifacts.  It was surprisingly large and had many carriages and other fun things to check out plus many audio exhibits telling stories. 

The author, Robert Flynn Johnson, arrived and the lecture started.  He explained how he came about recreating the story of the brothel, it’s owner and patrons....many of which are anonymous, just by researching what clues were available in the shots. The photographer was also revealed and was a known portrait photographer in the area. Amazing to spy on his personal work that he most likely never intended on sharing with the world.  He even appeared in a nude himself, a subject of his own work.  

We enjoyed the evening and I placed an order for the book as all copies available that night were already sold.  He did share many photos with us during the lecture but I really wanted to see more! My book was available to pick up today and I went back to the museum and am now starting to ingest it.  It was signed by the author since I ordered it during the event.  He traveled to NYC after the lecture to present at a exhibit opening and official release of the book there and signed copies for all who ordered and shipped back to Reading for us.  I am looking forward to reading the essays he included from notable experts on fashion and the trade during that era, which really round out the history.  

 My copy, signed by the author. 

My copy, signed by the author. 

I really love that there are people in this world that think like I do.  They put the time in to search for the answers of what they find or as I like to say.....what found me. it is so easy for history to be lost and whether it is a manufacturer, person or product, preserving these stories for future generations is imperative. 

If you are interested in checking out the book,  https://www.amazon.com/Working-Girls-Robert-Flynn-Johnson/dp/1943876584

 

 Just a taste of the pics. There are nudes. The women are mainly just posing or doing things like brushing their hair or other grooming tasks. It is just lovely and so well photographed. Notice the flokati style rug on the floor! It is in many shots!

Just a taste of the pics. There are nudes. The women are mainly just posing or doing things like brushing their hair or other grooming tasks. It is just lovely and so well photographed. Notice the flokati style rug on the floor! It is in many shots!

Reading Eagle article on the book which sparked my interest:  http://www.readingeagle.com/news/article/secret-photos-of-1892-reading-brothel-published

Reading Eagle article on the event we attended:

http://www.readingeagle.com/news/article/brothel-book-signing-draws-a-crowd-to-berks-history-center

Exhibition of photographs can be viewed through Oct 13th in NYC HERE:

https://www.riccomaresca.com/

 

 QUICK UPDATE!!!! ThIs weekend is Extravaganza.  I am offering 20% off a single item and 30% off multiple items at my space in the Fleetwood Antique Mall. My current selection is some amazing kitschy accessories and even a ready to use day bed at prices so low even a dealer can resell them.  Come on out to Berks County and Kutztown and save money!  I never find a lot of mid century at the Renningers event so if you leave disappointed, I am only minutes away!  OPEN 10-6 today through SUNDAY!!! 

QUICK UPDATE!!!! ThIs weekend is Extravaganza.  I am offering 20% off a single item and 30% off multiple items at my space in the Fleetwood Antique Mall. My current selection is some amazing kitschy accessories and even a ready to use day bed at prices so low even a dealer can resell them.  Come on out to Berks County and Kutztown and save money!  I never find a lot of mid century at the Renningers event so if you leave disappointed, I am only minutes away!  OPEN 10-6 today through SUNDAY!!! 

Enjoy your week! 👌 

XO Malissa

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