It’s a really cool thing to know experts in different fields! We recently received a few pictures from our friend Kelly, asking if we knew anything about a pair of chairs that her mom had inherited from her grandfather. Unless they’re Hitchcock, we’re not chair experts, so we contacted someone who specializes in mid-century furniture. We’ll call him Roadrunner. (“Meep meep zip bang!”)
Here are the pictures we received:
And, no kidding, after just a few days, Roadrunner called me with his thoughts on the chairs. I transcribed the information he provided (based only on the pictures!):
The tags read “602A Wal. & Kal. Olive Plastic Swivel Lounge Chair” (the other tag reads “Curved” instead of “Swivel”). It is his opinion that these tags represent an item number and description from an auction. Kal. Olive being the color – kalamata olive, and Wal. being the stain color. These chairs were likely purchased in the ’70s at an auction.
The chairs themselves are from the mid- to late-1960s (likely 1966-68). The bent plywood points to several different designers, but there aren’t enough other clues or marks to narrow it down to one in particular. The upholstery on them is not original – this is the 1970s bit. It was common for folks – in offices and at home – to change the fabric/coverings on furniture like this every 5 years or so, since fads and fashion were changing so rapidly. The original fabric on these chairs was probably something bright and colorful, and not an industrial-strength fabric.
One of the chairs has a hole or divot in the underside – and that underside bit is likely a replacement (an old one) itself. The bottom of these chairs should be similar to the plywood and stain on the top – you’ll notice one is and one isn’t. These are probably not the original legs, either. The legs would have been a shapely, tapered wood, not these standard x-bottom office-style legs. These x-legs were likely added in the 1970s, with the green vinyl. That being said, they are well proportioned and still look great.
In their current condition, he estimates that pair are worth between $300-500. Without being hands-on and being able to scour for additional clues regarding designer, originality in pieces, fabric, etc, it’s difficult to nail down a price.
That being said, reupholstering them might actually be a good idea. It was common to re-upholster over the original fabric – sometimes in layers as furniture lasted – so the original fabric might be under there! This shade of green, while certainly dating it and invoking memories of the era, is not particularly collectible.
Straight from the expert: “With regard to reupholstering:
Beware the 1966-1973 evil urethane/fiberglass foam dust. (I’ve never figured out exactly what material it is, but it’s the sharpest dust I’ve ever encountered and has a particular talent for landing in your eyes)….
You can tell if you have this sort of foam underneath your upholstery if you pinch it (or sit on it) – and get a nice ‘crunch’ without any spring-back to its original shape. This foam not only needs to be replaced, but its removal should really be avoided/mitigated as much as possible by amateurs.”
So – there you have it! Another example of it’s not what you know, but who you know. Thanks, Roadrunner, for solving this mystery!