Unicorn with ballerina legs, tortuous lamp & other unusual items
  • Weathered primitive farmhouse benches
  • Furniture legs and feet with a style of their own
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    Auction Finds

    Benches with ballerina & cow-shaped legs

    I always wander among the furniture at auction houses because I never know what will catch my eye. Along with the heavy antique pieces are usually items that don’t fit into any space and defy my imagination.

    Like the free-form wooden chair that looked like a rabbit. Or the Louis XV style toilet chairs.

    I was prowling the floors of one auction house recently, down one aisle and then another, when I came upon a bench that stopped me in my tracks.

    Ballerina and cow-legged benches

    Two ballerina-legged benches ready to be auctioned.

    It had sky-blue suede-like upholstery and its legs and feet were carved like those of a woman wearing maroon ballerina shoes and a blue bow tied at the knee. How utterly … different, I thought. There were two of them, and I figured they were novelty benches meant to be a conversation piece. I didn’t think to turn them over to look for a maker’s name but they looked rather artistic.

    The light-colored seats were still clean, so I assumed that not much sitting had been done on them for fear of shattering the delicate legs. The benches were set up on a table among the antique furniture, perhaps to ensure that the curious didn’t feel obliged to take a seat.

    Ballerina and cow-legged benches

    A close-up view of the ballerina-legged bench.

    As I stood there looking at them, the benches grew on me and I decided that I actually liked them (but would never buy them). I found a chair with similar legs on the web. It was called an en pointe chair and was said to be an apparent favorite of a famed French interior designer and antiques dealer named Madeleine Castaing. Such a chair – which was said to have come from a brothel – can be seen in a photo of a bathroom in Castaing’s home taken from a book about her.

    Finished with the bench, I went off to find other interesting furniture in the place. I didn’t have to look long, for I found a piece that rivaled the uniqueness of the bench. It was in the section that housed the modern furniture, and this one was contemporary.

    Ballerina and cow-legged benches

    A bench made of cow hair with hoofed feet.

    It was a bench made of cow hair and hoofs (real or faux, I don’t know). It was part of a threesome that included two lamps without shades. This bench did not grow on me; it reminded me too much of the poor stuffed and mounted animals I often see at auction.

    Searching the web, I found other animal-legged tables, including a white African Table produced by noted designer John Dickinson that the blog Savvy Home said was “rare.” Dickinson made animal-legged furniture pretty popular in the 1970s with his African Table and other pieces. He was known for his concrete and plaster pieces, which have been re-issued in a different material by Sutherland Furniture.

    Here are some benches and stools with goat-shaped legs by designer Myra Hoefer.

    Ballerina and cow-legged benches

    One of two lamps whose base is shaped like a cow's leg.

    The animal-legged table at auction was a far cry from Dickinson’s works, which were described as simplistic and whimsical and now very expensive (Savvy Home noted that an original African Table could sell for around $20,000 and I found a Plaster Table selling for $16,000).

    What do you think of these two benches from the auction? Would they work in your décor?



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