My fascination with vintage Saarinen style tulip chairs has become a full-fledged continuing saga. Yesterday, I spotted “75 vintage tulip chairs” for sale on ebay. I was mesmerized by the photo alone (above), and had to find out more. Where did this sea of Kruegers come from? Why were they being sold? Can we help find them happy, new homes? Read on, and see some more sea-of-tulip-chair photos –>.First, an outline of my Saarinen saga:
- When my kitchen remodel was nearing completion, tulip chairs first entered my consciousness, and I knew they would look “just right.”
- At first I did not have much time, so I threw money at the problem and bought reproduction chairs on ebay, and a knockoff tulip table from CB2.
- Along the way, my chairs were — ironically — featured in a Cranbrook video on Saarinen’s life and work.
- Over time, the swivel mechanisms on the ebay chairs Made in China required continuous adjustments, disconcerting to DH, who was Mr. Fixit on that scene. (The CB2 table was just fine.) So I began looking for authentic vintage replacements, and a I almost immediately scored a vintage knockoff set of tulip table and chairs at Berkshire County Used Furniture…
- The set needed cleaning. So I found Shawn, who cleaned up the tulip chairs with Penetrol, stripped, sanded and repainted the steel table base, and put read leather and new padding on the cushions. Are my table and chairs Burke? Not quite sure. I don’t really care. One year in, and we are loving them!
- Here are instructions from Knoll, too, on how to clean a vintage Saarinen tulip table and chair set.
- Saarinen tulip chairs in the Miller House, which he designed.
- Tulip chairs in smoked lucite. Too over the top? I don’t think so. Oh my gosh, and look a this set!
Now to the 75 vintage tulip chairs for sale on ebay
The listing says these Krueger designs from the 1970s. They look to be in excellent shape. Interestingly, Krueger is a company that is still around, based in Wisconsin. I bet if I asked, they would send me archival information Another day.
I contacted the lister of these chairs, and it turns out they are being sold to support a good cause — the Susquehanna River Archeological Center of Native Indian Studies. Executive Director Deb Twigg responded very quickly to my request for more photos — love! — and provided the following information:
Hi Pam. Thanks for your interest. The chairs are being used in our lecture hall at SRAC in Waverly, NY. We are a nonprofit, and a local healthcare system had bought these back in the day for some waiting areas.
.They sold a ton on eBay in 2007 and donated the rest to us. Since we are a non profit and economy us hard on us right now, we have decided to see if we can sell the chairs to help us pay our bills.
We also have around the same amount in light blue tulip seats but the bases are different…here is our lecture hall with these chairs that are on eBay right now…
Feel free to call me with anything else you might want to know about- and thanks for helping us spread the word.
- Deb Twigg, Executive Director, email me at: Dtwigg [at] sracenter.org
You’re welcome, Deb, thank you for the photos and information, and good luck with your sale!
Disclosure: When you buy anything from these ebay carousels or after you click into ebay here, it nets me a teensy commission.
Readers, if you want tulip chairs authentic from back in the day, these look like the real deal to me. Obviously, if you can get to Waverly too see what you would be buying, that is always preferable. The Buy-It-Now price is $300 per chair, or start your bid at $250 per chair. Some price comparisons:
- An authentic Saarinen tulip chair like the ones shown, purchased today new from Knoll looks to start about $2,300. Price list here a big difficult to decipher for an amateur like me.
- Modernica’s fiberglass shell chair does not offer swivel base or upholstered seat. $299. Very pretty, though, and a wide range of colors. You can even get these as bar stools.
- I paid $225 for my vintage set, then about $600 to Shawn to repair, repaint and clean the set. One of the chairs had a ding in it — he filled the fiberglass. Greater experts than me say: Go for fiberglass that is in perfect shape, as repaired damage may not hold up to daily use.