Egg chairs popular among midcentury modern designers

At least five famous midcentury modern designers made chairs that looked like large hard-boiled eggs with a cutout for seating space: Arne Jacobsen (1902-1971), Milo Baughman (1923-2003), Peter Ghyczy (1940-) and Charles Eames (1907-1978) are four of them. But the fifth and most famous was the Ovalia egg chair made […]

At least five famous midcentury modern designers made chairs that looked like large hard-boiled eggs with a cutout for seating space: Arne Jacobsen (1902-1971), Milo Baughman (1923-2003), Peter Ghyczy (1940-) and Charles Eames (1907-1978) are four of them. But the fifth and most famous was the Ovalia egg chair made in 1968 by Danish designer Henrik Thor-Larsen (1932-).

The chair was made with a round aluminum base and velvet upholstery on a white fiberglass frame. It was made to swivel. Some of the chairs were made with stereo speakers built into the backs. Hundreds of other chairs seemed inspired by Ovalia. There are womb chairs, rocking egg chairs, fried egg chairs, wicker egg chairs, swing egg chairs and more, all with the rounded egg shape. There are also hundreds of copies selling at low prices. The original Egg chair, sold by New Orleans Action Galleries, brought a bid of $1,000, the estimated price, in a recent auction.

Q: I was wondering what the value is for a hand-painted china figurine of a barefoot boy in blue pants, wearing a “straw” hat and seated on tree stump. He is playing a flute and is about 6 inches high.

A: Your figurine is by the Lefton Co., founded by George Lefton in 1941. Lefton was known for china teapots, creamers, sugar containers, teacups, ashtrays, figurines and vases. In 1945, Lefton made the first Lefton China product, marked “Made in Occupied Japan.” It looks as if your figurine is missing a branch, which jutted out to the right of the boy. A similar one, also missing the branch, recently sold for $5.

Q: My husband got an old iron at a farm auction about 35 years ago. He said it was called a “sad iron” because it’s made of one solid piece of iron. The iron handle is impressed “Patented Dec-31-1867.” The top has ruffled designs. I’d love to know its history so I can tell my grand-, great-grand- and great-great-grandchildren. What is it worth?

A: Sad irons are flat irons made of solid iron. Some think they were called sad irons because they were heavy, and the iron handle got hot. More likely the term came from an early meaning of the word “sad” which is “solid, dense, heavy and firmly fixed.” Sad irons were heated on top of the stove or over coals. A patent for an improved sad iron handle was granted to Arad Barrows of Philadelphia on December 31, 1867. Irons with detachable wooden handles were made beginning in the 1870s. Some sad irons sell for about $5, while others with interesting details sell for $20 to $35 and up. Other types of irons can sell for hundreds or, if very rare, even thousands of dollars.

Q: I’d like an estimate of the value of my Buddy L toys. They are in mint condition.

A: Buddy L toys were made by Moline Pressed Steel Company in Moline, Illinois, beginning in 1921. The included toy trucks, fire engines, buses, construction toys and other toys. Toys were made of heavy steel until the early 1930s, when lighter steel was used. Ownership of the Buddy L brand changed several times. The last owners declared bankruptcy in 2019. Reproduction Buddy L toys have been made. Many original Buddy L toys sell for a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. Your toys in “mint” condition would sell well at a toy auction. Our book, Kovels’ Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide 2020, shows a Buddy L firetruck with an aerial ladder for $360, a Ford delivery truck for $509 and a tanker truck with two milk cans for $666.

Q: I have a collection of antique postcards and would like to understand their value and whether there is a market for them.

A: Postcard collectors are called “deltiologists.” Most specialize in collecting cards of a certain type, subject, place or era. Most postcards sell at flea markets, house sales and online sites for less than 50 cents apiece or in a large group of cards for a few dollars. A few sell for high prices at postcard auctions, shows and shops. Price is based on age, condition and the desirability or rarity of what is pictured. If you decide to sell them yourself, you will need to research what you have and determine what the cards might sell for. Ask a postcard dealer or auction what they will pay for the cards. Expect to get about 30% of what they can sell them for.

Tip: Paper must “breathe.” Don’t glue it to a backing. It expands and contracts, and eventually it will tear.

On the block

Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.

Candlestick, figural, partially nude putti standing, holding cornucopia candleholder, porcelain, Royal Heidelberg, 9 by 4 inches, $45.

Sampler, verse, Swiftness of Time, flower basket, buildings, birds, butterflies, flower and vine border, Emma Leader, aged 10 years, England, 1849, silk, linen, frame, 18 by 13 inches, $255.

Kitchen, kettle, copper, lid with finial, hammered, gooseneck spout, shaped swing handle, stamped on handle, Dayton/Stutsman, 19th century, 11 inches, $375.

Steuben glass sculpture, American flag, block form, raised stripes, 50 etched stars, wood stand, signed, 3½ by 6 by 2¼ inches, $485.

Toy, Jetsons turnover tank, Jetson character graphics, tin lithograph, Marx, box, 1963, 4 by 3 by 2½ inches, $525.

Folk art, game board, Parcheesi, red, black, green & yellow, squares, rectangles, triangles, 2-sided, c. 1900, 18 by 20¾ inches, $705.

Doll, French, bisque socket head, glass eyes, kid body, blond mohair wig, pierced ears, olive green dress, hat with gray feather, dog on string leash, 16 inches, $1,010.

Firefighting, helmet, Chapman Steamer, leather, white, John Olson Co., New York, c. 1860, 9¼ by 14 ½ inches, $1,625.

Furniture, cart, Regency, mahogany, galleried top, frieze drawer, shelves, turned supports, cuff casters, c. 1890, 41 by 44 by 13 inches, $1,830.

Clock, Bradley & Hubbard, Gambrinus, King of Beers, crown, long hair & beard, sits on keg, raised stein, blinking eye, cast iron, marked, c. 1859, 12 by 7 inches, $5,100.

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