• Question
  • May the Chair Man be seated!

    Asked on 2/22/2007

    The obsession developed in my late thirties. But it began earlier when I bought(for $25)a large mission style Morris chair at our local Salvation Army used furniture outlet. It was solid with large flat arms that could support a beer glass, coffee cup or soft drink and pretzels at the same time. We needed a supplemental chair. Its color unfortunately was lime green and needed to be repainted in order to fit into our circa 1961 apartment living room.

    On close inspection, under the chipped and flaking paint was an interesting dark oak grain. More excavation revealed well-preserved quarter sawn oak surfaces. After more stripping I discovered a printed label as well as a "Stickley" symbol impressed into an inconspicuous rear cross piece. The chair was $25. It was a signed Gustaf Stickley, a rare and valuable piece. It deserved all the reincarnation I could give it, and the soiled orange corduroy covers on the cushions when removed revealed heavy
    leather upholstery with springs inside.

    This began a decades-long interest in antique furniture. I studied period styles, the craftsmen, the values-- Empire, Victorian, Shaker, country, Chippendale, Hunzinger, Windsor. I visited antique stores. I began to attend antique auctions. I began selling some less important purchases. As I moved into a succession of larger homes, my collection of eclectic chairs and furniture grew. I juxtaposed a Jeliffe settee with a Thonet rocker and a Hans Wegner side chair. Guests had their preferences. My children were perplexed.

    I got a state tax dealer number so that I could buy and sell for resale.

    Now in virtual retirement, and substantially downsized,I've sold (de-accessioned is the word) much of my collection. But I continue to be fascinated with finding eclectic furniture for whimsical seating arrangements. Over the years I've learned about furniture styles, construction techniques, woods, finishes, the history of craftsmen, restoration, upholstery, and the influence of technology upon construction.

    Over the years I've bought and sold many "roomfulls" of antiques! And now from where I'm sitting as an armchair traveler, it's been a lot of fun.

  • Categories: Your Life in Retirement, Leisure, Health Care and Health Insurance, Jobs for Retirees


  • Editorial 


    San Francisco, CA

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  • A question for you! Did buying and selling antiques help with your retirement plan? Were you able to turn your hobby into anything that enabled you to sock away anything for retirement?

    Not that it matters... it sounds like a life well lived.

    And antiques are an interesting metaphor for retirement! Especially interesting to think of ourselves like the Stickley you uncovered. What kind of paint are we all wearing now and what happens if we get restored?

    Thanks for the post! Happy Retirement!

  • Login to rate this answer:   Answered on 5/16/2013
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