If you’ve been raiding your great aunt’s attic in search of treasure, set your sights on her vintage brooches rather than her fussy figurines. In an age when engaged couples prefer to register for barbecue grills than bone china, Sloans & Kenyon Auctioneers and Appraisers president Stephanie Kenyon has seen a wholesale change in collecting trends. Say goodbye to Grandma’s rocking chairs and vitrine cabinets and hello to mid-century modern furniture of the late 1950s and 1960s. ¶ “Blond and light-wood furniture is in; brown furniture is out,” Kenyon says. Terry Kovel, co-author with daughter Kim Kovel of the go-to “Kovels’ Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide” (the 2013 edition has just been published), sees a surge in popularity of anything 1950s as well as Scandinavian furniture from the 1960s and 1970s. Original pieces by major designers including Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen and Finn Juhl are especially in demand. “Most people are buying it to live with it,” Terry Kovel says. ¶ Big brooches in both vintage and new jewelry are in vogue, says Matthew Rosenheim, president of Washington’s Tiny Jewel Box, known for both its antique and modern jewelry collections. Kenyon says there has been an uptick in big jewelry in general: cocktail rings, bold link bracelets and enamel bangles mix well with the Audrey and Jackie O.-era sleeveless sheaths that are in style. She sees a direct connection between today’s collecting crazes and the much-watched and talked-about fashions and decor in the TV series “Mad Men.” ¶ Here’s what our experts say top their list of collectibles.
Straight lines, minimal hardware and light wood are hallmarks of the mid-century modern aesthetic. A classic example of the style is the Hans WegnerWishbone chair. Compact, lightweight and graceful, the chair was designed in 1949. These four sold for $850 at Sloans & Kenyon’s auction on May 4.