On the hunt for the right garden chairs
  • Weathered primitive farmhouse benches
  • On a concrete lawn, a display of garden statuaries
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    Auction Finds

    Garden benches & chairs – harbingers of a new season

    The wrought iron garden bench and chairs were the color of pastels, and their appearance forced me to acknowledge them first among the other furniture that spoke of summer.

    They had been placed in a side yard of the auction house, on a long swath of earth that had been spread over with gravel to make it easier for us auction-goers to check them out and perhaps bid heartily.

    I loved those aqua and blue and purple and fuchsia colors; they had a way of making you feel jaunty. Who wouldn’t want to relax on them – with a few cushions, perhaps – with a glass of fresh lemonade or iced tea on a sunny day?

    garden furniture

    A set of colorful garden furniture.

    The garden furniture sat in good company – among them a lovely black S-shaped bench with an open looped design on the back. It’s called a tete-a-tete or kissing/conversation/courting garden bench – the word literally means “head to head” in French. Tete-a-tete benches were popular in Victorian period, – especially in lobbies in Europe, according to one website – for kissing and quiet conversing.

    Here’s a lovely Victorian three-seater interior tete-a-tete bench from the mid-1800s.

    The garden furniture at the auction house was similar to ones I’d seen about a half hour earlier at another auction just down the street. I suspect that I’ll be seeing more as the warm and then hot weather gets into full swing.

    garden furniture

    A black wrought iron tete-a-tete bench sits among others at one auction house.

    This is the time of year when garden furniture – both new and old – finds its way to auction. That’s good news for folks in the market for some of the best-looking and sturdiest stuff around. Most of it has been sitting in someone’s yard or garage for years, and it’s the real thing, not the new flimsy pieces from your local big-box store. Auctions are a good place to find that special piece for your garden or patio.

    The prices, too, are the kind that won’t hurt your pocket. I found the same tete-a-tete bench selling on the web for $199 and $279, along with a cute little doll-house version for $8. I wasn’t around when the bench at auction sold, but I suspect that it went for less than $199.

    Here’s a sampling of what was available:

    garden furniture

    A white wrought iron bench and chair with wavy seat and intricate back.


    garden furniture

    A set of Adirondack chairs.

    These white Adirondack chairs were props, or set decorations, in the movie “Paranoia,” set to open in October.

    garden furniture

    A cast iron garden bench with a back of flowers.


    garden furniture

    A white cast iron garden bench with two mermaids.


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