Category Archives: Mid-Century

Enter the Sandbox: Dinky Toys Collection, ca. 1950s

Playground politics are not to be taken lightly. Attitude comes second only to the hardware a child packs. Whether challenging one’s competitor to a car race down the driveway or excavating the dirt hill of the schoolyard, one is expected to produce from one’s pocket a die-cast gem to rival all others.

In the pre-War era of the 1930s, when a kid chose to throw down, chances are their car or truck of choice was a Dinky toy.

The Frank Hornby firm Meccano was founded in 1901. Best known for its electric trains and metal erector construction sets, the company began selling Modelled Miniatures in 1933 to complement its O-scale railway sets. By the following year, these products had been rebranded Dinky Toys. Production of the die-cast models took place in Liverpool, England and Bobigny, France. Prior to halting manufacturing during the second World War, the company had in its repertoire a broad range of cars, trucks, military vehicles, aircraft, ships and earth-moving machines.

The pictured collection includes a selection of 1950s Dinky Toys and larger Dinky Supertoys. Examples such as the red Blaw Knox Bulldozer come compete with driver and movable levers to raise or lower the shovel, while the Nestlé delivery van possesses some of its original, and very rare, milk cans. The maroon Foden flatbed log-delivery truck retains its chain and post guards as well as all the wheels, including a spare located under the bed of the vehicle. The previous owner was adept enough to fashion four wooden stumps out of dowel to complete the picture.

Moderne Life Is Rubbish: Pair Of Deco Mid-Century Chairs, ca. 1940s

Brown leather. You’re an addiction that I do not wish to recover from…

Not surprisingly, I was immediately drawn to this set of (unattributed) chairs, not only because of the quality and richness of the leather, but because of the low, Deco Moderne style of the aluminum frame.

There’s always an outside chance that a piece looking this good is actually comfortable and by golly, these chairs really do the trick. Perfect for an afternoon nap…

Heavy Pedal: Columbia/ Pope Bicycle, ca. 1940s

Given the rise of cycling as an environmentally friendly mode of transport in major cities, it’s fascinating to look back at a time when cycling was perceived to be limited to those under the legal driving age and those seeking some carefree recreational fun.

The quality of American-built bicycles is something I’ve really begun to appreciate. Not only were they built to last, but as an investment they’re generally undervalued.

The Pope Manufacturing Company was started in 1877 and produced, among other things, motorcycles and automobiles. It later became the Columbia Mfg. Co. but at one time Pope was the foremost manufacturer of bikes in the U.S.

This women’s model dates to the late 1940s and has been very well preserved. Not only is there no rust on the frame, this bike still has many of its original components. The chain guard, leather sprung seat and even the battery-operated head lamp are intact and functioning. Better still, when this bicycle was acquired, it came with a photo (dated 1952) of the bike with its original owner.

Line Up, Single File: Tri-Level Office In-tray ca. 1930s

Poppycock.

Three cheers for a paperless office and all, but extra points awarded for making your desk sing with a bit of character too. Even if you have no-one to hold all your calls, your memos arrive via email and you pay your bills online, it doesn’t mean you can’t bung a few magazines, thank you notes and holiday snaps into this tall (14″!), handsome in-tray. Dorset Finds isn’t preachy but isn’t it time you be the boss of you?

I love this piece’s versatility; Perfect for the office, on a coffee table or a bureau. The stained, wooden-framed trays are labeled with original gold leaf lettering and the aged brass hardware is in great shape.

Now, get back to work.

The Life Pursuit: Eames Time Life Executive Chair, ca. 1980s

I’m not sold on the notion of form before function. Sure, it needs to look impeccably cool, but if you can’t use it either because of its fragility – or the very thing that draws you to it in the first place – its beauty, I don’t know really want to know about it.

Case in point; the Eames Time Life or Executive chair, manufactured by Herman Miller. You’ve seen it caressing the cabooses of Don Draper and Michael Parkinson for years and you’ve seen it in high-end 20th Century design stores but it’s only when you sit in one that all the fuss makes sense.

This example is upholstered in subtle, less conspicuous light brown leather rather than classic yet severe, black. The aluminum, particularly around the 4-star base is excellent and the original casters and smooth tilt mechanism make for guaranteed comfort while sneaking a late afternoon cat nap.

Move Toward the Light: Industrial Factory Lamp, ca. 1930s

The hunt for the perfect articulating desk lamp seems to be an unending challenge. Just as well, it’s a labor of love! So many variations exist across many manufacturers that it can be tough making a choice.

This unmarked lamp, dating to the 1930s is likely a “Localite” manufactured by Fostoria of Ohio. What makes it special is the aged, spun aluminum shade and porcelain light socket. The flat steel base allows for easy placement on a wall, ceiling or desk. Definitely a contender, wouldn’t you say?


Be My Light, Be My Guide: Explosion-Proof Nautical Light, ca. 1950s

The power generated from the firing of 16 inch guns is nothing short of staggering. To put down an opposing ship the size of the Chrysler building, it needs to be, right? Ships, and more so their lighting systems, need to be strong as steel – if you’ll excuse the lame pun.

This ship light has been converted to use a household plug, is encased in thick glass, accented with brass screws and protected by a heavy-duty aluminum cage. Weighing in at over 30 lbs. and a towering 17 inches, this light means business, bitch. So don’t mess with it.