About a month ago I hit a local thrift shop just to see if I could find some treasure. I wandered around for a while and came across an awesome Drexel dresser from the 1970s. It was only $40, but it was missing a drawer pull that was pretty unique and likely couldn’t be matched, so I hesitated. I walked around the store a few more times, considering it again and again – I could find a matching drawer pull on eBay! Naaa. I could paint it bright orange! Naaa. I could just switch out all the hardware and start over! Maybeeee.
So with that thought in mind, I headed left at the white leather recliner, whisked past the charming china cabinet (on special! priced to move!) and down the crowded aisle where the dresser was.
But there was another woman standing in front of it. And she was touching it! And trying the drawers! Grrr.
She took the tag off and went to the cashier. They talked a bit, and she said she’d have to think about buying it for another few minutes, and the cashier said “sure! Take your time! I’ll just keep the tag here for you….”
I circled. Once. Twice. I walked to the other side of the store so I wouldn’t appear stalkerish.
But really, I WAS stalking.
Next thing I know, she decided to buy it and ka-ching! A minute later it was hers. Nothing like having someone ELSE buy something that you SORT OF wanted to buy to make you think what a knucklehead you are for not pouncing sooner.
But then I turned around and saw something I hadn’t seen before:
Half hidden behind a big piece for furniture was a sweet little mid-century wall unit. Now, I’ve been a sucker for 50s and 60s furniture for a long, long time. I’m talking pre-Mad Men mania.
I knew this unit was something special – I could see the quality and thought that I could use it on a big blank wall I had in my basement. And for $60 it would make me feel better about losing out on the dresser….
And how can I resist that the previous owners sent it off with this grainly old picture from 1976 that showed it in its original location:
Just check out that spiffy hi-fi and wicked color TV with rabbit ears. Swank.
So I pounced. I brought it home, spiffed it up and got it into the basement.
Only to find out it was 2” too tall.
So I did what any impulsive thrifter would do to get rid of stuff that they shouldn’t have snatched up without thinking or measuring – I put it up on eBay. After doing a bit of research I figured out it was designed by George Nelson for the Herman Miller company in about 1964.
I didn’t even bother to set it up – just showed pictures of it in pieces. I thought some collector might find it interesting.
And for good measure I threw in a Google Images shot of what it would look like if it were assembled and photographed by a real photographer with a real camera (not me with my iPad…)
Let’s say that “some collector might find it interesting” is the understatement of the month.
Here it is a week later and my $60 consolation prize purchase just sold for $1875. Score!
Take that, Drexel dresser lady.
Let me fluff out my feathers and say I’ve been lucky like this on mid-century stuff in the past. I once bought a lot of Florence Knoll furniture from a Boston law firm that was closing and sold it at auction for a killing. I think my radar for this sort of thing comes from my father’s sensibility for really fine furniture – I grew up with what I thought was the UGLIEST stuff in my house. (Then again everything from the 60s looked like junk in the 80s.)
Later when I was in architecture school and studied 20th century design, I realized that ugly stuff turned out to be a Noguchi table, George Nelson console and McCobb chairs.
Funny I don’t miss that dresser so much anymore.
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