That entry from craigslist was probably taken from one of Ann Kerr's collectors guides. She authored several editions of the Russel Wrights Collectors Guide. She included the Modernmates line in her volumes because at that time no one knew who designed what. We (the Russel Wright collectors group) now know that all Conant Ball that was designed by him features his name in the stamp. The Conant Ball company did continue the production of the American Modern line without his name in the stamp. This line was produced after his contract had expired.
The MODERNMATES line was designed by Leslie Diamond. Advertising has been found for the Modermates line clearly attributing the designs to Diamond.
Conant Ball furniture was in production for many years. It seems that the interest in their furniture from collectors lie only in their MODERN designs. Hence the higher values seen here on Ebay. All other styles although high quality and well built just don't have much value.
Most long time Russel Wright collectors pretty much know now that if an item does not bear his name with a stamp or sticker, it's not his design.
Does anybody know about furniture that looks EXACTLY like the Conant Ball Modern Mates (or American Modern...?) except that it has black with the blonde? I have seen all black and all blonde pieces that are Conant Ball. I have a 3 drawer dresser that is blonde with black drawers. My mom bought it in 1952. So far, I haven't found any markings except the number 5201D 1224 that seems to be a Conant Ball #. But since i can't find anything online with the blonde and the black on one piece, I am wondering what I have???????
Thanks. I thought it was Conant Ball. Yes, the chest is blonde with black laquered drawers. The drawers have circular brass handles that are also something that I can't find online. Do you know where I might find a picture or information on a piece like this? I have looked everywhere Ii know to look. Thanks again!
It's pictured in an archival Conant Ball photo in Ann Kerr's 3rd edition "Collector's Encyclopedia of Russel Wright" on page 84. It might also be listed in Conant Ball catalogs & brochures, although I've never seen this finish actually pictured in a catalog before.
Kerr mistakenly attributed Modernmates as a Wright design. We now know the line was designed by Leslie Diamond.
Yes, my research says Leslie Diamond is the designer of Modernmates. Thanks for the info. on where I might find a picture of this particular piece. I should mention that the # I gave in my first email is actually followed by a small 9 that is underlined. So the # on the back of the chest is 5201 1224(small underlined 9 right after the 4)... in case this makes any difference. I have taken the black drawers out, turned the piece over, and looked everywhere... and there are no markings except these numbers. No Conant Ball mark. Is this normal for a later piece such as mine? As far as being a special order finish, all I know is that my mom told me she bought it at the top int. design store in Tampa, that it came that way, and it was not expensive. One more question... it has the original finish which is in bad condition. I took it out of storage and am using it in my home. It needs to be refinished. I never plan to get rid of it so will it "damage" it to refinish it? Thanks
Conant Ball was notoriously sloppy about marking their furniture, so I'm not surprised you're missing the brand on your dresser. It's not uncommon for the wrong mark to be used, even. I have several pieces of Modernmates in my personal collection that are marked with the incorrect brand.
Refinishing will likely significantly impact the resale value, especially with harder to find finishes such as yours. I'd only recommend refinishing if it is completely un-displayable.
It's in pretty bad shape finish-wise. Also, there was post beetle (or something that wasn't termites) damage to the very bottom of the right side of the piece. That is not as big a problem as the look of the finish. Guess i could try restoration instead of refinishing. I would love to know the value of the piece although I don't plan to sell it. I would be happy to take some pictures and send them to get your input on what... or what not to do... to make it look better!
No, coyteetrader. Russel Wright only designed a very limited amount of furniture for Conant Ball, all of which is marked with his name. The majority of their Maple (and other) furniture was NOT designed by Wright.
FYI: your correction is for the first post in this thread. see page 1. for some reason, they put the original post at the top of each new page. very confusing! if you look at the posts at the end of page 2 you will see he/she knows that this is designed by leslie diamond. ;-)
i also need to do something about my badly damaged chest. i posted here and, as expected, was advised not to refinish unless it was undisplayable because it would negatively impact the value. mine is undisplayable so i am researching what to do. since i never plan to sell mine (because it is a family piece), i will do something. i haven't tried this yet, but here is a link to HW refinishing possibilities:
Those measurements sound like the Conant-Ball chest/dresser I have. I have a blonde set including double bed (headboard, footboard, siderails), 7-drawer desk, and 3-drawer chest/dresser. I also have a drop-sided dining table with legs that swing out to hold up the two end leaves and four matching chairs. These pieces are all from my parents' estate. I do not have room for them, so I am planning to have a garage sale from Thursday through Saturday (1/28--1/30) to sell many of my parents' furniture pieces and other items. (I also have a few Russel Wright Iroquois dinnerware pieces -- including a creamer which is really pretty.) I just cannot keep everything. The furniture is in storage at the moment and I would have to pull a lot of things out to get to it to measure it, but I'm pretty sure those are the chest measurements. I know it's not the wider chest that went with the set. I have no idea where you are located, but I live in Middle Georgia.
I have a CONANT-BALL table (with 2 extensions), 4 chairs, credenza AND a full bedroom set of stacking/modular drawer & cabinet units all in the same style (we REALLY liked it ). There are 'bow ties' on the table top and chair backs inlaid into the wood. The chairs have a curved back, two have arms. The table is pedestal branching out to four 'legs' that curve up slightly - old world Modern/contemporary/Scandanavian... I'm estimating that we bought the furniture around 1975. I'd attach pictures if I saw an option to but I don't. Everything is still in use except the table & chairs which I'd like to sell but am trying to find out what they are worth. Any help is greatly appreciated!
There isn't a single website that provides thorough Russel Wright references. Here's where I'd recommend starting ...
The Russel Wright Listserv is a great resource, where collectors and researchers gather to talk about Wright and his work. It is an email discussion list, though, and not a website. All the most current scholarship is discussed there. Be sure to register to get your name on the list, so you get the emails.