Johnson Furniture Company Art Deco Table, ca. 1955

Value (2010) | $5,000 Auction$9,000 Retail
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GUEST:
My husband and I purchased this in Miami Beach at a dealer about 15 years ago. And we love the Art Deco design, and it just called out to us.

APPRAISER:
It wasn't built in the 1920s or 1930s. This table was actually built about 1955 by the Johnson Furniture Company. Most people think it was designed by Paul Frankl. Paul Frankl was actually working for Johnson when this table was produced.

Is it by him? Maybe. There are several other people that could have. Renzo Rutili, who was the head of design for the Johnson Furniture Company, also could have designed this table. It's one of those great kind of mysteries that we're not sure of. The Johnson Furniture Company was a high-end furniture company, made expensive furniture for well-to-do clients. I think this table in so many ways captures the history and sort of the feeling of Art Deco, and again, interestingly enough, it wasn't built during the classic Art Deco period. When this table was produced, it was produced with all the bells and whistles. I think you bought this table in the mid-'90s?

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
And during that time period, we all thought it was part of the Paul Frankl Art Deco period from his production of the late 1920s.

GUEST:
The Skyscraper series.

APPRAISER:
Absolutely-- we thought it was from the Skyscraper series. But as time has gone along, we've really discovered a lot of new information. And it's not. So that's sort of a disappointment, because that was some of the greatest Art Deco furniture made. But it has that same sort of feel, that same look. We're not completely sure where it was made. My guess would be Grand Rapids. Also, I'm not completely sure what it's made of.

GUEST:
It's very heavy.

APPRAISER:
It is very heavy, and it's very well built. And without taking it apart and really looking at it, it would be very difficult to tell at this point.

GUEST:
The mystery goes on.

APPRAISER:
It does.

GUEST:
Is this original finish, or has this been redone?

APPRAISER:
I believe this has all been redone. And it's been done quite well. One of the interesting things about modern, and collecting modern, is unless you have a specific piece-- a piece of Wharton Esherick, a piece of George Nakashima, something like that, really refinishing it, redoing it, to this point in the history of collecting, hasn't affected the price at all.

GUEST:
Oh, it has not?

APPRAISER:
Not a bit.

GUEST:
Oh, that's good to know. I was concerned about that.

APPRAISER:
Can you tell us how much you paid for this table?

GUEST:
I think it was a few thousand dollars, but I don't remember exactly.

APPRAISER:
Did you think this table was by Paul Frankl?

GUEST:
I did. And that was the understanding when we purchased it, that that's what it was.

APPRAISER:
It's a fantastic table. And also it has quite a bit of value to it. In today's market, at auction, this table would bring about $5,000, $6,000. At retail, it would bring probably $8,000 or $9,000. It's a fantastic table. Thanks for bringing it in.

GUEST:
Thank you very much. We love it no matter what.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Rago Arts & Auction Center
Lambertville, New Jersey
Appraised value (2010)
$5,000 Auction$9,000 Retail
Event
Miami Beach, FL (July 10, 2010)
Form
Table

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