1933 Four Pieces of Molesworth and Lamp

Value (2012) | $130,000 Auction$180,000 Auction

Moses Annenberg, who was a publishing mogul in Philadelphia, came through my part of the world in Wyoming, stopped in Beulah, and had trout. Best trout he'd ever had or thought it was wonderful. Sand Creek temperature never varies about three degrees year round, so the fish is very good. And he said, "Where did these fish come from?" And they told him, and he went up and bought part of the ranch right then. And then he came back and he built a huge lodge, and he hired an up-and-coming furniture Western designer named Thomas Molesworth. And this is all his designs. Eventually, it came up for a sheriff's auction. And my stepfather bought it. The furniture was from, like, the 1930s. And my folks bought it probably in the late '50s.

Thomas Molesworth is probably one of the best furniture makers of the 20th century. He lived in Cody, Wyoming, moved there in 1931. And I believe that he did this furniture in about 1933. The Annenberg ranch was one of the largest commissions that he ever did. What people look for in Molesworth furniture is the burling and the wood and the posts-- it's fantastic. Most of the wood that Molesworth used was Douglas fir. He found it in Wyoming, found it in South Dakota, found it in Montana. And the more burled it is, the more money it's worth. So on the little table, first of all, I love the mining motif on top. I love the pick, the shovel and the gold pan. It's so Molesworth. The top of the table is made out of leather, dyed green leather. And I'm not 100% sure about this, but it looks to me to be elk leather. The same applies to the smaller coffee table too. That top is in particularly good condition. Over the years, again, this furniture is 80 years old. And a lot of people probably put their feet on it. Unfortunately, somebody along the line has redone all the fabric. It's a tough call. I have advised all sorts of people when bringing things to auction or selling things, just leave it the way it is.


Let the next person make the decision as to what they want to do. So this collection, the Annenberg collection, had approximately 250 pieces in it. Do you know where the rest of the 246 other pieces are?

I probably have about 40 of the pieces. I have another table, I've got some of the lamps and some of the beds and a few other pieces.

The couch, even in the condition it's in, I think the fact that it's from the Annenberg ranch will add a dimension of value to it. I would guess the couch to be worth, at auction, about $40,000 to $50,000. The chair, probably $30,000 to $40,000. The table, probably worth $10,000 to $15,000. The little table, about the same, $10,000 to $15,000 at auction.

I love those numbers. Thank you.

I'm sure you do. So do you have the lamp with you?

I do. And my daughter has it, right here, my lovely daughter has it.

Wow. It's a wonderful early design. I love the pulls on it.

I know, aren't they something?

They're quintessential Molesworth. And the mica shade, I love the mica shade. I love how organic it is, how natural it is. It's so Western. This lamp is probably, at auction, worth $40,000 to $60,000.


Great piece, it's a great piece.

Appraisal Details

Rago Arts & Auction Center
Lambertville, NJ
Appraised value (2012)
$130,000 Auction$180,000 Auction
Rapid City, SD (July 14, 2012)

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