Vintage Hand Chairs
Vintage Hand Chairs are original 20th century chairs designed to resemble an oversized human hand.
History & Description
Hand chairs first appeared towards the end of the Mid-Century Modern Movement in the late-1950s and early-1960s. The most valuable examples of hand chairs are commonly constructed from painted or laminated carved woods, such as pine or mahogany.
Mass-produced and therefore cheaper models of hand chairs are typically covered in brightly coloured synthetic fabrics or faux leathers.
Guide for collectors
Although a number of furniture designers have produced hand chairs, auction records show that hand chairs designed by the Mexican artist and furniture designer, Pedro Friedeberg, consistently achieve the highest prices at auction. In addition, hand chairs designed by the Romanian-born Canadian artist, Sorel Etrog, though less frequent, are also highly prized among collectors.
Vintage hand chairs are commonly offered by both national and international auctioneers. Vintage examples are also sold on eBay, but their condition can vary considerably.
Notable auction sales
On November 28th 2011 at Sotheby’s in Toronto, a small bronze hand chair, designed by Sorel Etrog, realised a price of CA$33,000 (approx. $33,500).
On October 24th 2009 at Rago Arts and Auction Center in Lambertville, New Jersey, a hand chair with three-footed base and gilded finish, designed by Pedro Friedeberg, realised a price of $16,000.
On December 8th 2009 at Christie’s in New York, a carved and painted wood hand chair, designed by Pedro Friedeberg, circa 1966, realised a price of $13,750.
On June 13th 2008 at Christie’s in New York, a carved and enamelled wood hand chair, designed by Pedro Friedeberg, circa 1965, realised a price of $11,250.
On September 29th 2010 at Phillips de Pury & Company in New York, a mahogany hand chair, designed by Pedro Friedeberg, circa 1960s, realised a price of $10,500.
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