J. & J. Kohn Bentwood Settee
Appraised Value: $1,000 - $1,500 (1998)
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (2:21)
Senior Vice President & Director, American Furniture and Decorative Arts
APPRAISER: This bentwood settee you brought in today is typical of the Art Nouveau style that developed in Europe and America in the late 1880s. Have you owned the bench for long?
GUEST: We got the bench in about 1972. It came from New Jersey.
APPRAISER: And do you collect other pieces of bentwood, or…?
GUEST: Yes, we had started collecting bentwood, and this was our first really big piece. We have two rockers, and then some straight chairs.
APPRAISER: Well, as you may know, this bench epitomizes the Art Nouveau style. And what's great about it, which I really like, are these serpentine shapes and lines, which show the artists during that time were looking towards nature and copying nature, such as plant forms, tendrils, scrolling vines. The process is really interesting. This bentwood process involved steaming beech wood rails and bending them into shape. And it's really a fairly advanced process, very avant-garde for that time. And what's interesting about this particular bench is when you first see it, we think of a famous maker called Thonet.
APPRAISER: The Austrian furniture designers. And this bench, as you may know, is not made by Thonet, but in fact is labeled. And if we can turn this over and look on the underside right here, we can see this mark, which is J. & J. Kohn, who were contemporaries of Thonet, working in Austria.
GUEST: Oh, so it is from Austria?
APPRAISER: Yes, but in fact, hundreds and hundreds of bentwood pieces of furniture were shipped to America during the late 19th century. It was all the rage to have this very fashionable furniture in your home. So it was very, very popular. And did you buy this piece at an antique shop, or...?
GUEST: He found it at an antique shop.
GUEST: And we paid, I think, just about $100 for it.
APPRAISER: Oh, that's good, that's good. Well, a current market value on this is right in the range of about $1,000 to $1,500.
GUEST: Ah, so...
APPRAISER: That was a good buy.
GUEST: That was a good buy.
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