Goodwill Find of the Century (or at least 2009)

Going through furniture items that were not going to make the cut for the big move, my cousin questioned the decision to sell a little cafe chair I have. “Isn’t that Bentwood?” she asked. No, surely not anything important. I bought it for $10 at Goodwill, and it looks too new to be old. It doesn’t look or feel like real wood. It’s too lightweight. It’s probably a reproduction.
That’s when I turned it over.

The underside of the chair tells a different story. Rough, heavy wood carries a beautiful label: Thonet.

Made in Czechoslovakia. “K.” According to my research, K probably stands for I.K., the name of the manufacturer. This chair was most likely built in 1945, before Czechoslovakia even became the Czech Republic!

So what has come of all this? I am keeping the chair, of course. I am hereafter doing close examinations of anything at Goodwill with beautiful lines, and I am definitely doing close examinations of anything 
before I sell it! And now I know how to spell Czechoslovakia.

One thought on “Goodwill Find of the Century (or at least 2009)

  1. Amazing discovery. Of course, in 1945 when your chair was made Czechoslovakia had suffered under Hitler since the Nazi invasion in 1939 and the Soviet Union quickly had it under its claws. Doubtful that very many other chairs were made.Under Communist rule, Czechoslovakia had a Soviet-style planned economy in which there were bread lines and very little creativity.Then, after years of harsh misery in Czechoslovakia came the dissident movement, and the playwright Václav Havel emerged as a voice for freedom, helped along by Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul. The Berlin Wall fell and the soul crushing grasp the Soviet Union had on Eastern Europe began to loosen. In 1990, the nation began the transition to a market economy with a broad program designed to encourage private enterprise and outside investment. The "Velvet Revolution" was successfully completed with the departure of the last Soviet troops in May, 1991, and a free parliamentary election in June, 1992.When I first visited Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic in 1999 the spa town was finally beginning to emerge from almost a century of Nazi-Communist rule.Along the road from Germany to Karlovy the countryside showed the remnants of the moral desperation left by the communists. Many prostitutes lined the road and what farming there was appeared to be very poor.But in Karlovy garnets ruled. Beauty was back. The lovely porcelain and crystal chandelier business was thriving. I bought my beautiful blue and white onion pattern chandelier in a shop in Karlovy and some garnet jewelry for Aunt Hetty, your Mom and my mother. I wish I had bought even more. I was privileged to be able to eat at the Grandhotel Pupp,which later was featured in the great Queen Latifah movie, Last Holiday. I was able to return again to Karlovy, and wished I could take you, Kate and Charlotte when you came over.So, long story short, you must keep that wonderful little chair. It is a symbol of much more than good chair making.

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