Upholstered pod chair is bold and brash

Terry and Kim Kovel
Cowles Syndicate

Think of an iconic modern chair and there's a good chance it was manufactured by Knoll. The company is known for making furniture by notable designers. Many of these were innovative midcentury chairs, like Eero Saarinen's Grasshopper and Womb chairs, Harry Bertoia's Diamond chair and Jens Risom's lounge chair. The company continues to manufacture these chairs, along with more recent styles by contemporary designers.

Many of these pieces were upholstered. Knoll's textile division started in 1947. The company collaborated with textile and fashion designers as well as architects and interior designers. In 2003, fashion designer Stephen Sprouse, who started his career in the 1970s, created a textile collection for Knoll. Sprouse was known for bringing punk and graffiti influences to high fashion and he did the same for his Knoll textiles, using features like neon colors and graffiti-style lettering.

This steel pod chair garnered extra interest from collectors due to its upholstery -- a graffiti version of the Declaration of Independence designed by Stephen Sprouse for Knoll.

This pod chair, which sold at Barton's Auction in Pennsylvania for $4,375, has a faceted body made of pressed steel and is upholstered in fabric by Stephen Sprouse for Knoll. The colorful upholstery with bright blue lettering over a camouflage-patterned background in hot pink, orange and yellow fits in with the unusual shape and design of the chair.

Question: I have an old Jenny Lind three-quarter-size bed with metal wheels. There are eight handcarved spindles at each end. Some are maple and some are mahogany. It was sold in a vacant lot and had eight coats of paint on it. There are no markings on it that I can see. My grandmother said when P.T. Barnum was negotiating with Miss Lind before she toured America, one of her stipulations was "I will not go without mine bed." He had several beds made for her in case one was lost in transit. Can you give me the value?

A: Jenny Lind (1820-1887) was a Swedish opera singer who was well known in Europe, but relatively unknown in the United States until P.T. Barnum began promoting her. He managed her tours in 1850 and early 1851. Her appearances attracted huge crowds. Lind ended her contract with Barnum in early 1851 and continued to tour on her own until May 1852, when she returned to Europe. Jenny Lind bonnets, gloves, shawls, furniture, paper dolls and other promotional items were made. Furniture manufacturers began calling spool-turned beds like the bed she slept in "Jenny Lind" beds, a name that is sometimes still used. Your bed is not a popular size, and the maker is unknown. It might sell for $100 to $300.

Q: I read your article about a "Calvin and Hobbs" comic strip selling for a large amount. There seems to be somewhat of a rebirth for this cartoon. I have an original booklet with about 30 to 35 pages of those strips through the years. My copy is a little over 49 or 50 years old. Can you direct me to the best source to connect with for selling this booklet?

A: Very few pieces of original art for "Calvin and Hobbes" have been offered for sale. Bill Watterson, the creator of the strip, gave his original art to only a few people and it sells for high prices. Collections of the comic strip have been published in book form since 1987, so your booklet is not more than 35 years old. Some booklets sell for $5 or less. A boxed set of "The Complete Calvin and Hobbes," which includes four paperback books containing all the strips, sold online for $50. It was in "good" condition. New boxed sets with paperback books sell for about $90 and for about $165 with hardcover books.

Q: When was Pittsville Pottery in business? I have a vase stamped "Pittsville Pottery" on the bottom and I'd like to know something about the pottery and when this vase might have been made.

A: The pottery was founded in 1930 in Pittsville, Wisconsin, by John Willitzer, the local Catholic priest, to provide work for his parishioners during the Depression. The pottery was incorporated as the Wisconsin Ceramic Corporation but is usually called The Pittsville Pottery. Production began in 1931. The pottery ran into financial difficulty and closed in 1932. Willitzer paid off the investors and reopened the pottery in 1933. It closed again in 1936. Willitzer gave James Wilkins and his son, William, half interest in the pottery and it reopened in 1939. The pottery closed in 1943. Most Pittsville Pottery found today was made after it reopened in 1939.

TIP: To set an old clock, hold the minute hand in the center, turn it clockwise and wait for each strike.