Buying my first Mid Century Modern Chair

I didn’t think it was possible. It’s like finding a unicorn in the wild.  I mean, I see other people getting lucky, but it never happens to me.  I read other decorating blogs like Manhattan Nest, where Daniel talks about his original Eames Lounge Chair, or how Kim scours flea markets to find and repair the perfect side chair for her living room for only $2.

Those kinds of things never happen to me – until now.

Let me rewind, and start from the beginning.

I am, like many others, and probably like you, a fan of midcentury modern furniture.  Stuff from the Mad Men age.  Things you would probably find in James Bond’s apartment.  Quality pieces made of real materials like leather, woods like Oak and Walnut, and metals like brass and chrome.  Chairs, sideboards, and tables that have stood the test of time.  Things that are essentially impossible to find, and when you do they are crazy expensive.

Just like you, I’m always looking for a good deal, and an amazing find.  I read all these blogs and generally I see a piece, and want to know more about it, I turn to Google and begin a search.  I see photos, and prices, and think I’ll never be able to afford that.  But I’m a fighter, and I never give up (but I’m still not paying full price).  So I’ve come up with a few hacks to search for furniture.  They don’t always work, but when they do, I end up with good deals on things like this Chair.

This particular chair my first one, I discovered on Craigslist – I don’t recall the exact search phase I used, but it was probably something like “wooden chair” or “mid century chair”.  You get the idea.  I had to scroll through several dozen items before I saw the listing for this one.  Past old rickety rocking chairs, cheap looking dorm room furniture, and other rif-raf.

Then I saw it.

I wasn’t looking for any specific brand of chair, just something mostly wood, with some leather, and nice lines.  It’s hard to explain, but you probably know what I’m talking about.

Across the screen was this brown and black chair.  The price was more that I wanted to pay – by a lot.  But I decided to text anyway.  I was surprised when I got a text back that said that the chair was still available, and that the guy could meet in a couple of days for me to take a look.  While I waited for the time to pass, I began my research.

According to the description it was a Marble Imperial Chair.  This was a company that had it’s origins in in 1885 by Barzilla L. Marble (age 12 at the time) who worked as a furniture maker in Bedford Ohio.  In the 1960’s his company merged with Dictaphone and became the Marble Imperial Furniture Company.  They continued to make furniture until 1985.

He texted me back and we set up a time to meet.  Then the day came, but unfortunately I had a conflict come up ( a client who wanted to see a house) so I had to cancel.  The seller told me that he was going to be passing through in my area in a couple of weeks and for me to check back.  I later found out that he was a long haul trucker, and was carrying around this chair for some time in the back of his truck.  This made me worried that it was going to get beat up as he was driving around, but I had to deal with that issue myself.

A week or so later I texted him back, and he said it was still available, but now it was half as much.  I guess he got tired of hauling it around so he lowered the price!  I asked if he was nearby, but he said he wasn’t.  But would be in Austin on Monday.

Monday came, and then my phone buzzed asking if I was available.  We decided to meet at a truck stop off I-35 – kind of shady I know, but I really wanted to see this chair, and now the price was a steal!  So I drove to the truck stop and met the seller.

I knew immediately that this was the real deal.  The chair had original black leather.  The walnut frame was in good shape – not loose, and no major flaws or imperfections.  There were even three original tags on the bottom of the seat as well as some chalk markings.  It was in near perfect condition.  So I haded the trucker the cash, and took the chair home.

I was the proud owner of a Marble Imperial Mid Century modern chair.  My very first piece of furniture that wasn’t from Ikea, or a hand me down from my parents, or something I made in the garage woodshop.  It’s the start of my collection.

Since bringing the chair home I did some more interneting, and found out about the Bedford Historical society, and even a place where I can send in photos and get more infomation about Marble Imperial Chairs – you can bet I did that today.

How did you find your first amazing piece of furniture?  Do you collect Mid century modern chairs?  I want to know!


2 Replies to “Buying my first Mid Century Modern Chair”

  1. Mid-century modern never goes out of style. Decor Interiors carries a number of reproduction chairs from Aidan Gray’s AG HOM collection

  2. Picked up a green Marble Imperial chair just like this from the goodwill a few days ago. $7. Has a small tear in the cushion & the seam. Searching for the best ways to repair it.

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