A tiger hiding in plain sight
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    Auction Finds

    Windsor chairs, tiger coffee table & more spark bids

    The bright green discs were the first thing I saw on the items as I entered the furniture room at the auction house. None of them had just one sticker, most had two or three – indicating that these were prized items that some dealers knew would pull in the big bucks. Or they could have been homeowners looking for that right piece.

    Intrigued, I obviously slowed my pace to see what all the fuss was about. I couldn’t get too close because the auction house had roped off the area. I could not see the names of the makers on any of the items.

    The first group of stickers were for phone bids on a wall clock with beautifully carved and raised signs of the zodiac in a circle around the face. Inside were brass weights and a pendulum with their own flourish of designs. The cylindrical clock had roman-numeral letters on its dial.

    Ornate clock with signs of the zodiac around its face.

    Ornate clock with signs of the zodiac around its face.

    Next, I spotted another clock, ornately carved with a top that looked like a crown, and bearing one green sticker more than the wall clock.

    A tabletop clock with intricate designs.

    A tabletop clock with intricate designs.

    My eyes then rested on a secretary bookcase or desk that was just beautiful. It resembled a Louis XVI design. Its glass front held green discs from two bidders.

    Secretary bookcase/desk that may be Louis XVI design.

    Secretary bookcase/desk that may be Louis XVI design.

    As soon as I left this area, I was accosted by two other items that had drawn equally or even more attention. The most lovely was a simply elegant Windsor chair and bench. The pair had attracted four phone bids (two, interestingly, were the same number). Looking at the chairs, I understood their appeal. These are chairs that have remained as classic as they were when they first appeared in England in the 1700s and found their way to this country – in Philadelphia, to start – a few decades later. Here, American furniture makers put their own mark on them.

    Windsor chair and bench still are a classic buy.

    Windsor chair and bench still are a classic buy.

    Over the years, the chairs have been restyled by some of the best designers (George Nakashima was one of them) to being mass-produced for your local Crate and Barrel or West Elm.

    Glass-topped coffee table with a lion in gold-leaf.

    Glass-topped coffee table with a tiger figure in gold leaf.

    Finally at the auction house, a gold-leaf tiger held up a glass-topped coffee table in a seating arrangement nearby. This table was even more intriguing. The animal figure – seated in the center of the wooden bottom – seemed to be part of the support for the top. Different, indeed. It had enticed two phone bidders.

    Gold leaf tiger stands out on the table.

    Up-close view of the gold-leaf tiger figure.

    The phone bidders apparently had seen each of these items on the auction-house website and had registered to bid on the items once the furniture sale started that afternoon. I didn’t hang around for that sale, so I’m not sure how much each of the items sold for.


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