March 04, 2024

Antiques & Collecting: Modern furniture

Stylized shapes, light wood, bold blocks of color and unusual construction are characteristics of modern furniture. This flame rocking chair shows all four.

Furniture functions stay more or less the same, but styles change according to advances in technology and the whims of fashion.

Even if you’re not familiar with the history of furniture, you can tell that a plain Pilgrim trestle table, an ornately carved Victorian sofa and a Bauhaus tubular steel chair belong to different eras.

This flame rocking chair, which sold for $240 at a Leland Little auction, is unmistakably modern. It was made by contemporary artist Erin Stesch and was auctioned to support an organization that preserves modern residential architecture.

The modern furniture era is generally believed to have begun in the 1940s with the end of World War II and the societal changes and technological developments it brought. Customers wanted inexpensive, functional furniture for smaller living spaces.

Companies had new materials to work with and new manufacturing methods. Designers created pieces that were both streamlined and organic, adding visual interest to comfort and practicality.

A relative gave me a ceramic vase several years ago, and I’d like to know more about it. It has raised and glossy owls and leaves. The bottom has an oval mark that reads “Amphora” in the middle and “Made in Czecho-Slovakia” in a border around that. Can you tell me anything about it?

The vase was made by Riessner, Stellmacher & Kessel Amphora. They were one of the best-known pottery makers in Teplitz, Bohemia, which is now in the Czech Republic.

The mark you describe was used by the company from 1918 to 1939. The vase is earthenware with enameled owls, leaves and geometric decorations. A vase like yours recently sold for $425.

Tip: Grease stains on tablecloths or bed linens may come out if rubbed with shampoo made for oily hair.

Current Prices

Moser glass vase, amethyst, etched gilt band with Amazon warriors, flared paneled form, bulbous bottom, circular stepped foot, marked Moser Karlsbad, 10 inches, $310.

Lamp, electric, desk, brown metal, hemispheric shade, hanging from C-curved arm, round weighted base, Kurt Versen, 21 x 14 inches, $875.

Quilt, Amish, pieced, diamond in a square pattern, center diamond made up of small pieced squares, red, blue, green, purple, blue ground, red squares in corners, green on reverse, Lancaster County, Penn., 92 x 92 inches, $1,845.

Advertising sign, Illinois U.S. 66, single-sided tin, embossed, black letters & border, white ground, marked National Colortype Co., 16 x 16 1/4 inches, $2,240.

Terry and Kim Kovel

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