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Baseball Furniture


Trompe L'oeil Marquetry Cabinet by Silas Kopf and Tim Faner c. 1988 - close-up
Trompe L'oeil Marquetry Cabinet by Silas Kopf and Tim Faner c. 1988 - close-up

Trompe L'Oeil Marquetry Cabinet by Silas Kopf and Tim Faner c. 1988 - with other memorabilia
Trompe L'Oeil Marquetry Cabinet by Silas Kopf and Tim Faner c. 1988 - with other memorabilia

I was at Christies this past week looking at an exhibition of modern furniture, so I decided to also check out the items in a different upcoming auction - the baseball memorabilia collected over a 40 year period by the legendary Geddy Lee of Rush. I don't collect baseball memorabilia, but I was there anyway, so I took a look. There was some cool stuff, including an Al Hirschfeld drawing that I wouldn't mind having. But what first really caught my eye was a marquetry cabinet by Silas Kopf and Tim Faner. Silas has always had a sense of humor about his work and his imagery has always been very much modern. The marquetry, of Brooklyn Dodger equipment casually strewn about as in a locker, is both expertly done but is also so on point. Amid the more expected autographed baseballs, programs, etc. there was also other baseball furniture to admire in the show.

Arts and Crafts Settee C. 1915-1920
Arts and Crafts Settee C. 1915-1920

This Arts and Crafts settee is a great example of what happens when you push a style. The piece has the standard profile of a typical settee of the style, which was normally never decorated. But carving the back rest with a low relief carved scene of people playing baseball changes the entire focus of the piece and makes it just awesome. This is a really excellent example of how carving can so subtly raise a piece to greatness.
 Detail of carving
Detail of carving

The next item from 1945 is a fairly straightforward chair that was painted with baseball themes and presented to Ted Williams. It's doesn't do much for me other than this type a chair was once so common and the form speaks so much to manufactured American furniture.
Presentation chair 1945
Presentation chair 1945

This painted table by Charles Monro is pretty modern. Called "Cooperstown, N. Y." it is described as a piece of "folk art," a term I have never liked. Monro took a fairly undistinguished table and made it bright, lively, and engaging. It might not to be to your taste, but it's art (drop the "folk.")
Folk Art Painted Table by Charles Monro 1993
Folk Art Painted Table by Charles Monro 1993

And finally. There were tons of ball and bats in the sale. Bats are made of wood, so I thought I would include a picture.
Baseball Furniture   7

P.S. Auction exhibits have inspired a few blog posts, so perhaps I should mention the reason I go. I don't go to bid on anything - frankly the things I really want are all out of my budget - but because you see some really interesting stuff and the exhibitions are free, auction shows compare favorably with museums. You see works that in many cases will go in and out of a private collections, never to be seen again for the next 30 years. Another great part of auctions: you will see classic furniture, sometimes of museum quality, that - very unlike items at a museum - are available for you to touch, examine, sit upon. No one minds if open a drawer see how it was put together. It's actually one of the best ways to see furniture.

Join the conversation
12/06/2023 Dave Polaschek
As someone who lives out in the hinterlands and can’t attend such pre-sale exhibitions in person, I thank you for posting about them. Such posts almost always have at least one thing that interests me enough to add a clipping to my “ideas” folder. Thanks!
12/06/2023 Jeremy Wright
Great tip regarding seeing incredible stuff at auctions. One of my fondest memories was when my family visited London and our trip aligned with a viewing for a swanky violin auction viewing, which I happened across on IG. My daughter (~11)a had been playing violin for a few years had the opportunity to handle and play some really spectacular instruments even one from the 1700's. the whole thing was free, and really made an impression on us all, in a way a museum would have missed.
One of the things I like about being a woodworker is that I can pretty much make anything I want that I couldn't otherwise afford. Auctions are a good place to get ideas. Biggest thing for me is think carefully on what I really want around the home.
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