Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Vintage Ideal?

This has been my "go to" quote for inspiration of late.  Perhaps it is a vintage ideal, but wouldn't all our lives be improved if we could just Do It Anyway?  My Grandmother would have loved this quote.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Danish Modern Mid Century Modern Teak Bowls and Home Decor - Design, Care, History and Shopping Tips

Vintage Teak Bowls Trays and Housewares

A Profile of Vintage Danish Modern


Mid-Century Modern Offerings

Want to begin accumulating vintage Danish Modern and Mid Century teak for your home?  Or perhaps you are an avid collector seeking information?  While vintage Danish Modern Teak furniture costs are soaring, vintage teak wooden serveware and housewares, such as salad bowls, cheese boards, salt and pepper grinders and sets, trays, as well as candlesticks remain affordable.  Some vintage offerings are down-right inexpensive.  If you are willing to put a little time and effort into refurbishing many vintage Danish Modern pieces can be picked up for a song.

These vintage "touches" will help transform your contemporary modern minimalist pieces and deliver the authentic vintage vibe you seek.  For beginning collectors, I recommend creating a purchasing plan which includes creating a wish list of items you would like to use daily and those which you want to purchase as an investment.  Learning a little history, design principals, and understanding the vintage market prior to making purchases will ensure you get the most value for your money.

A little Danish Modern History

From a design aspect the Danish Modern movement began in the 1920's; but really took hold in the early 1930's continuing through World War II.  It has been said during the depression years and World War II into the post war era, European and Scandinavian designers took to their roots in both design principals as well as materials.  These new designs, born of frugality, honored the past but perhaps more importantly displayed an awakening spirit of hope for the future.

In Danish Modern furniture design, prior to using teak, many Scandinavian designs were made of local woods such as pine.  An American aesthetic for darker woods influenced Danish Modern designers.   Additionally, the advent of new post war glues and technologies such as bent plywood (which made for a stronger union of wood and metal) opened the door to exciting new affordable designs.  Once Danish Modern designers discovered teak, known for it's attributes of being a hard, lightweight and water resistant wood,  Denmark quickly became the largest worldwide importer of teak in the 1950's.

High consumption combined with poor forestry and plantation conservation practices, during the thirty year period between 1950 and 1980, accounted for the decline of teak resources worldwide and the consequential spiraling cost.  In the early 1980's many countries instituted policies to improve and maintain teak conservation practices.  Exports became regulated and plantations were governed to assure teak remained as a sustainable resource.  Why is this important?

Availability impacted both price and design.  As you will learn the age of teak importers, not coincidentally, ended in the 1980's. During that 30 year period of time not only product design but also manufacturing practices changed in order to remain competitive in the market.  Many Danish modern designs which heretofore were executed in Denmark with imported teak, were now manufactured in the country of origin.  Indeed, designs were changed to provide a more economical use of wood.  A good example of this is evidenced with the evolution of the country of manufacture of Dansk bowls; early bowls were manufactured in Denmark but quickly began being produced countries like Thailand and Malaysia. Indeed, even now, global teak availability and prices are impacted by the practices during this thirty year time period. Hence, making  the purchase of vintage teak products is not only fun but also affordable and a "green" practice.

When considering mid century teak salad bowls, serveware, candlesticks, toys and trays for purchase you owe it to yourself to 1.) know a little history, 2.) define your budget and, 3.) understand basic construction and design in order to maximize your options.

A Bit of History - Vintage Teak Serveware and Housewares Mass Market Manufacturers - Importers

Resourcing information for Danish Modern name designers such as Kay Bojesen, Hans Bolling, Jens Quistgaard, Richard Nissen and their piers on the internet is a fun ride and you will find rich information. Conversely, there is much less information available for mass market manufacturers and importers.  The latter being my main focus, because their products are reasonably priced and readily found online.  Take a moment to discover the mass market manufacturers/importers in the mid-century tableware and housewares game.  Knowing the names and a bit of the history will afford you many design and price options.

Mass Market Teak Housewares Manufacturers

Dansk Designs - 1954 - 1991 Formed in 1954 by Ted Nierenberg with designer Jens Quistgaard.  In 1974 Dansk removed all designer references and changed their back-stamp to Dansk International Designs LTD. Dansk was purchased in 1985 by Dansk Acquisition Corp and was later purchased by Brown-Forman Corporation, under it's Lenox brand umbrella.  In March of 2009 Clarion Capital Partners LLC purchased all the assets of Lenox from the Brown-Forman Corporation renaming the company Lenox Corporation which has kept the Dansk product name.[1]  There is abundant information about both Dansk and Jens Quistgaard online which I will not further duplicate here.

Dansk Trademarks over the years.

Dansk Teak Package Care Instructions 

The following care instructions came with each wood item from Dansk Designs.
"Dansk Designs advises you to treat your wood pieces tenderly.  Wood is sensitive to extremes of temperature, humidity and dryness.  So store it in a well ventilated area away from radiators and strong sunlight."
"To keep this piece lustrous, clean it by wiping with mild soap and warm water.  Dry thoroughly.  And give it an occasional beauty rub with ordinary mineral oil."

*I would only note that today it is recommended you use food grade mineral oil.  Which can easily be found at most big box stores, as well as hardware and home improvement centers.

Buying Tip:  While Dansk was sold only first quality in the finer Department Stores, they also sold seconds and closeouts through a network of Factory Outlet Stores.  Look for tags which may show the item was a second.  Further, make there aren't unsightly knots and be sure all staves and inlay work are tight and sound.  Aging glues and exposure to water can compromise the joints and the structural integrity of your piece.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Another American Institution Closes It's Doors - Beaver Brand Hats 1860 - 2013

Beaver Brand Hats 1860 to 2013 - A Eulogy

Vintage Beaver Brand Hat

I always wanted to be a cowgirl, just like Annie Oakley or an indian like Sacagawea.  I confess I can still fantasize about being a member of the Lewis and Clark expedition or being a ranch hand out west.  I wished for and "Santa" delivered my first western hat when I was three.  When I was eight my parents purchased my first authentic cowboy hat for me at a "real" western store in Arizona. I'll never forget the smell of leather and the sound of the scuff of shoes on the worn hard wood floors.  My hat was a natural cream color, traditional cowboy hat which I would wear with my red and white gingham check shirt and blue jeans.  I was one of the good guys! And now to you I confess, over the years, western style hats and old hats in general have been a secret love.  

Christmas 1958 wearing my pajamas (the kind with the feet in them) and my new hat!

Nothing says the west like the silhouette of a cowpoke or a cowgirl on a horse wearing a well worn hat. From my earliest memories as a child I wanted a horse and to ride the range.  I saw cowboy's and cowgirl's as free thinkers, independent soles who had the tenacity to help shape a nation.  Like many a cowpoke, I can "hear a song" when seeing a hat; feel that special tingle when you slide it on your head, undergo a transformation of self and spirit.  Whoever you were, you are now a cowgirl or cowboy.

American manufactures like Beaver Brand, Stetson, Resistol, Levis and Remington are a part of our history.  Just saying the names releases the magic of the old west, spurring a memory, story or song.

Here's a verse from one favorite, Chris Ledoux's ballad, "This Cowboy's Hat":

You'll ride a black tornado, cross't the western sky
Rope an ole blue norther and milk it till it's dry
Bull dawg the Mississippi, pin it's ears down flat...
Long before you take this cowboy's hat....
Now partner, this ole hat is better left alone,
She used to be my daddy's, but last year he passed on.
My nephew skinned the Rattler that makes up this ole hatband,
But back in 69 he died in Viet_Nam
Now the eagle feather was given to me by an indian friend of mine
But someone ran him down somewheres round that Arizona line
And a real special lady gave me this hat pin
But I don't know if I'll ever see her again.

More lyrics:

Please pardon my romanticized ramblings and look past the tear that fades down my cheek.  The Beaver Brand Company has died and another piece of America and Americana has died with it.

After 153 Years Beaver Brand Company Closes It's Doors to Hat Making

Since 1860 Beaver Brand made hats by Americans for Americans.  Beaver Brand originated in St. Louis, The Gateway to the West, coincidentally the starting point of the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1804.  This was where settlers would stock their larders for the trip out west.  They produced hats under the Langenberg brand.  In 1928 they moved to the small town of New Haven, Missouri.  Many workers were second and third generation hat makers and purchased the private company in the early 1990's.

Their moniker was "Beaver Brand - Always a Standard of Quality".  They delivered exceptional quality in timeless styles; it was one of the few companies in the world where you could custom order a hat to your specifications.

Their hats are a part of the western collective consciousness and they will be missed.  It was said in the old west a person could tell where you were from by the type of hat you wore.  In many ways it's still true today.  You can go anywhere in the world, if you're donning a cowboy hat, you're American.

Although they ceased production around October of 2012, on July 20, 2013, Beaver Brand Company will formally be liquidated in an auction located at their manufacturing plant in New Haven, Missouri.  If you're in the area and interested in attending, the auction preview is July 19, 2013, from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm and the auction begins at 9:00 am on July 20, 2013.  American history for sale, I'm sure there are some true treasures to be found.

Among the things being auctioned are:

"advertising, International Time Recording Co Endicott, NY antique time clocks, original art works by Jonathan Wright, Beaver Brand Hats lighted sign, antique 14 drawer cabinet units, massive antique glass front hat display unit, salesman sample hat travel cases, original Beaver Brand Hat boxes, labels, old photographs 1860’s, HUGE LOT OF PRODUCT-various styles of hats, 12+ denim jackets “Don’t Mess With My Beaver Brand Hat”, antique oak office chairs, awesome Beaver Brand Hats lighted advertising sign, hat catalogues, fern stands, oak farm style table"  From the Auctioneers advertisement which can be found here:

A moment of silence please; take off your hat, hold it over your heart and say a word or two for a great American company; the Beaver Brand Company.  While you're at it you may want to say a prayer for all American businesses.  Large and small we need all the help we can get.  Please remember: buy local, buy American, support small business.  It is the heart, and sometimes the soul, of America.

The vintage Beaver Brand hat pictured is available in my vintage shop.  UPDATE - The hat shown has SOLD!

Thank you,
Debra TheInspiredTrader