Hunzinger Heyday

by John Werry on February 26, 2008

Hunzinger Chair Needs Upholstery 750119 Hunzinger Heyday
I have this picture in my head of Wall Street traders’ flailing arms with tickets in hand and yelling, “Buy, Buy, Buy Hunzinger!” That is about what it feels like with a recent series of Hunzinger purchases that have transpired. I don’t think I’ve seen this much excitement or should I say bewilderment about anything in the Rare Victorian reader community in the past year.

Let’s dissect the recent activity with this past weekend being the pinnacle. Two high-end Hunzinger Renaissance Revival chairs sold for $12,338 and $18,213 at Neal Auction including buyer’s premium. One of the two chairs had significant upholstery challenges and that was the one that went for $12,338 (pictured above).

I would consider this design to be Hunzinger’s most decoratively ambitious while appealing to the widest market relative to the other designs that he produced. The chairs of this style weren’t whimsically designed with lollipop ball and stick elements nor as bereft of decoration yet design-focused as some of his innovative tables.

I think that these chairs are selling high since they would look perfect in a parlor with John Jelliff pieces or any of the other Renaissance Revival style pieces without looking “Hunzinger”. You have to be a certain dedicated collector to buy some of his more “unique” items and I consider myself included in that population.

Recently (January 2nd), one of these same style chairs sold for $4,300 on Ebay. The purchaser of that chair wrote me and was very happy with this past weekend’s results. If I were him, I’d ship my chair to Neal’s for auction.

Hunzinger Chair 701704 763448 Hunzinger HeydaySo here is how I see the Hunzinger market as of this moment (based on auction prices for items sold):

  • The Renaissance Revival chairs above are starting at $4,300 and going beyond that. I think the next one sold at a mainstream auction house will point the direction. I don’t see last weekend’s prices as sustainable.

chair main 763565 Hunzinger Heyday

  • This diminutive parlor chair above recently sold for $3,800 but I see that one as an anomaly. There are other exceptions such as this one that sold last June somewhere in the $4k range if I remember correctly. That particular chair design is on the rear cover of the Barry Harwood book on Hunzinger. Most of these chairs like the one below sell through in the $1,000 to $2,000 range.

HIP248711090 795827 Hunzinger Heyday

  • Duplex spring rockers like the one below are selling in the $400+ range.

 Hunzinger Heyday

  • Lollipop chairs and rockers are starting in the $400 range for the more commodity low-back versions. The high-back varieties are in the multiple thousands due to the rarity created by the diversity of designs as well as buyers’ current preference for these versions.

Hunzinger high back chair lollipop 736281 Hunzinger Heyday
Most of the tables sold as “Hunzinger” are actually mis-attributed Merklen Brothers tables or other makers, so I won’t go into those prices. His “real” parlor tables come up rarely. The flip-top game tables are selling in the $100-$400 range. Other designs by Hunzinger such as metal strap chairs and folding chairs are generally in the low hundreds. Artfact and Terapeak provided my rough figures.

As a Hunzinger collector myself, I like the trend that I’m seeing and only anticipate increased valuation in the future.  To find current Hunzinger items available for sale go to GeorgeHunzinger.com.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1881victorian February 28, 2008 at 4:42 pm

I hate to think it, but at these prices it appears that Southampton Antiques might be offering a bargain on a near-matching sofa prices at $10k. See also http://www.southamptonantiques.com/vs/vs-1226.html

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John W March 3, 2008 at 2:17 pm

That sofa has been bought already…

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