You’ve seen all the home magazines and you know
what you like, but how do you land that beautiful vintage
piece? Well, there are a number of ways to go about it.
Whether it’s an auction, ebay, op shop, Sunday market, or
one of the many many secondhand dealers who
specialize in mid-century modern, it is still possible
to land yourself a bargain.
The most important thing to remember is that you
should always do your research and never assume
that the dealer knows everything. Knowledge is a
funny thing, and you will find that collectors often
focus on particular eras or manufacturers and
designers. Educating yourself on Australian design
can help you to fill in the knowledge gaps and grab
those bargains that many dealers aren’t too sure
Just recently I was at an anique centre in rural Victoria
where I saw a set of 6 1950’s Knoll scissor chairs for $2500.
Considering a pair of these chairs sells for around $3000,
what a bargain! So there are opportunities out there.
Sunday markets and op shops can provide those lucky
buys from time to time. Remember, many people think
vintage furniture is old, ugly and out of date. Hey, but
we know better. Try to get to markets relatively early,
as they are often frequented by dealers who get there
at first light. Op shops can still present the odd treat,
but you have to venture out of town if you wanna find
gold. Outer suburban oppies in older areas can be great
for uncovering 1950’s Australian furniture, kitchenware and
Also, check out the country auctions. Most people are looking
for shabby chic and traditional antiques at these auctions,
which means that you may be the only bidder in the room
when the handler presents that mid-century chair of your
dreams. Remember though, set yourself a price and try to
stick to it. If the piece has damage, you need to consider if
it can be fixed, and if so, how much will it cost to gently
Meadmore cord chair (1952)
A good case in point here is the Clement Meadmore cord
chair (above) from the 1950’s. You can score one of these for
under $100 at most inner city auctions, but more often than not
the cord is damaged and needs replacing. To get this done
professionally will cost you around $250, but you may be
able to buy the chair fully restored at a dealer for $350.
On the subject of repairs, always get a professional to
do the tough jobs. Most furniture dealers can point
you in the direction of a reputable craftsman. Always
try to maintain the integrity of the furniture and avoid
using synthetic stains and cheap fabrics. If you spend
the money, the piece will provide you with many happy
years of pleasure: it should also hold its value.
Another way to snare a mid-century bargain is to put the
word out in your circle of friends and family. It may surprise
you just what some people have in their garage.
Try not to get too obsessed with the big names in Australian
post-war furniture design because there are loads of
obscure manufacturers who made some great looking
pieces. The most important thing about furniture is that
it gives you joy.