Sunday, February 26, 2012

One Of My Hobbies Is Trying To ID Vintage Modern Furniture And Whatnot. I Like To Think I'm Pretty Good At It But Really, I Just Don't Mind Spending Too Much Time Trying! Status: And Sometimes I Get Lucky.


The VERY FIRST e-mail I received from the new "Inquiries and IDs" e-mail address (above and to the right) was from a couple who I met at an estate sale last year.  They had bought a good size Kent Coffey buffet and I offered to help them get it home since I had room in Frank and they weren't too far away.   We all became fast acquaintances and they recently acquired a really neat chair and wondered if I might be able to help them ID it.

So the "Clueless Campers"

(you may know them from the

comments as CC) contacted

me a little over a week ago

asking if I might be able to help

them identify this chair that they

had recently acquired.  They

sent me an e-mail with four

good pictures from various

angles; Front 3/4, Back 3/4,

Full Front and Full Back.

This was so much help because

getting an ID on something like

DSCN6041this comes down to details.

For some reason my first

instinct was Grete Jalk so I

sent them a quick note saying

so and asked if they'd be down

with me using the photographs

they sent me for a blog post.

I figured either I'd figure out

what the chair was and get to

brag about it or I'd fail

miserably and mine the

considerable brain power of

this blog's readership for an



Well, the Grete Jalk inspiration went nowhere. It's so not a Grete Jalk design, but in looking

around at Jalk chairs I stumbled upon a couple pics of Finn Juhl stuff and it looked pretty close.

So I did a Google Image search for Finn Juhl chairs and within just a few minutes I had found

the chair! Turns out it's a "Delegate" chair designed by Finn Juhl for Baker.


So then, after sending them the good news, I had to ask if it might be OK if I dropped by with

my camera to take pics for the blog and hang out for a bit. They were more than welcoming to

me and my obsessive compulsive photography habits. They also have a REALLY nice joint and

I'm hoping that I didn't wear out my welcome (oh yeah...I was there for like 2 hours...for a

dozen pics) because I'd love to have the opportunity to share a tour of their pad with you soon!

They have superb taste and some really nice stuff.


The Clueless Campers received this chair from a friend who pulled it from the trash. Yes, really.

Somebody threw this out. Oh sure, it needs a tiny bit of help to be a nice vintage chair if that was

all it really was. Being that it's a bit more than just a nice vintage chair it maybe deserves a little

more attention...but how much more? We discussed this at length and all came to our own

conclusions. Should it be refinished and if so should it be done by a professional or would a

home / garage job be OK?


Is the upholstery original (we don't think so based on the screws holding the seat to the frame

but it might still be) and if so, should it be preserved? There are some "cat scratch" areas that

aren't too bad and could be cleaned up with a little clipping. The seat cushion has sorta collapsed

and the webbing could use a little tightening up.


Since the Clueless Campers are leaning towards keeping the Delegate Chair my thoughts were

to "skin" the seat and replace the cushion and webbing as needed, then pull the seat upholstery

back on. Take the "seat" off and give the wood a light refinish, maybe with some of the

Howard's products. Nothing too drastic but enough to help the chair shine like the jewel it

really is. A full restoration could always be done later if the time came to sell the chair.  What

do you think?


  1. Restore with a pro, someone who knows the chair and appreciates it's beauty, then repost the chair for us to drool over! Your new friends are extremely lucky folk!

    1. Hi Pippa. They ARE super lucky! But they know it and are humble about it too. They are nice folks who seem to deserve a nice thing like this to happen to them.

  2. I personally would never attempt to refinish a piece by a major designer, even if I were going to keep it for my own use, because nothing causes the value to tank like an amateurish job of restoration.

    There are sellers who are excellent refinishers, but my SIL and I conceded several months ago that we're not, so we either find pieces in great shape (which we prefer, since some purists insist on the original finish) or we pay a professional to restore them. In the longrun, that makes sense. As an example, we recently bought a serious piece for $2800, had it refinished for $250 and sold it for $8000...which is why professional refinishing can be a wise investment.

    That said, a light rubdown with a little Restor-a-Finish won't hurt. We use that and teak oil all the time on our less expensive pieces. Where people go wrong is oversanding or using a stain that's not true to the original color. That can affect the resale price later on by hundreds of dollars.

    1. Hi Dana. I think you and I (and the Clueless Campers!) are all pretty much on the same page. I tried to give them plenty of advice options since even the options can influence what one decides to do with a find like this. Are buyers really becoming like those collectors they talk about on Antiques Roadshow and Christy's Auctions demanding an original finish even if it's all ganked up from skin oils? As far as vintage modern is concerned, I'm with the French. Refinish it! Make mine Pretty!

  3. If you were buying a big name designer piece for investment and/or resale I'd agree with Dana. Go to the pros.

    If you're taking a piece that someone had in the trash, you're going to use it in your own home, and it's long term future is undecided I'd use restore a finish on it.

    This piece is both.

    I wouldn't let sandpaper in the same room with it, but some Howard's and a rag isn't going to hurt anything or cost much.

    When its long term future is decided then make a long term decision.

  4. If it were me I would do the garage makeover for sure. Howards treatment with new foam and webbing. Give the fuzzy areas a hair cut and see how it looks. If then the green upholstery was bothering me, I would think about how to replace the upholstery.


    1. Hi Phillip. That would be my plan as well. I might even go so far as to completely skin the seat and give the upholstery a hand wash in the tub before putting it back on with new foam.

  5. It looks in almost perfect "vintage" condition as-is. I'd carefully trim the pills/fuzz on the upholstery, hit it with a little Feed-N-Wax, and call it a day. That is one gorgeous chair!

    1. Hi Nick. The only other issue is the sag in the seat. It's usable but would look better and be more comfortable if the seat was "plumped" back to life.

  6. I'd just clean up the fabric and hit the frame with some maple/pine RAF. You'd be taking chances with this chair on a complete refinish and recover...

    1. Hi A Mod. If this had been given to me I'd be mighty tempted to drop it off at Custom Furniture Works. They did an impressive job on a chair that I sold a few months ago.

  7. Thank you Mr. Modtomic (cool guy!) for featuring our chair, and for everyone's input on what to do next. Those are some great pictures! We feel that refinishing and upholstering this chair is beyond our level of expertise. We're not going to be the amateurs who ruin it! But we would still like to clean it up some. The green color goes well in our house, so we think that we will trim the fuzzies, and use some restore a finish, (it does look like "early american maple" colored walnut), sit in it, and enjoy a bottle of homebrew.
    Thanks again to all! -cluelesscampers

    1. Hi CCs. No no...thank you! It was my pleasure to have the opportunity to shoot the chair and show it off. Gimme a holler if any other mysterious items make it your way!

  8. Just a little hint...Use a lighter tint than your chair to keep it as close to orginal as possible. It will still clean up most of the issues without affecting the color..

    1. Hi again A Mod. Thanks for the well informed advice. Any help we can share with one another I'm sure is highly appreciated!

  9. would it not be ok to keep it as is...vintage feel for the piece might be a draw for many

    1. Hi Sudha. Well of course! It would be absolutely fine to keep exactly as is. Everybody has a different level of tolerance (or desire even) for age, patina and wear and tear.

  10. Thanks for the link to your previous post. We agree that the job Custom Furniture Works did was awesome...and a neat choice of fabric. And quite the coincidence that the chair came from the same estate sale where we met you!! --cc (cluelesscampers)

    1. Hi CCs. I shoulda put the link in the body of the post, but I'm glad you checked it out. I got a couple of really nice chairs that some day I'm gonna have to get restored...I might have to utilize their expertise!

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