Wikipedia: Chinoiserie, a French term, signifying “Chinese-esque”, refers to a recurring theme in European artistic styles since the seventeenth century, which reflect Chinese artistic influences. It is characterized by the use of fanciful imagery of an imaginary China, by asymmetry in format and whimsical contrasts of scale, and by the attempts to imitate Chinese porcelain and the use of lacquerlike materials and decoration.
My Definition: Local Furniture from Jamestown NY from the mid century to the early 80s that my family and especially grandfather, Merrill Coffin and family hand painted. Otherwise known as a gold mine of coveted family heritage and beauty that must be snagged up.
I myself have not been fortunate until last week to see any piece for sale but alas my luck has changed. My mom and I were taking an antique excursion lunch break in Frewsburg and happened upon the first piece. I was waiting for my mom to check out and just glanced in the corner and whammo the first piece. My eyes started to blur and I felt a bit of perspiration bead on my forehead. No price on the piece! I hate that. I always feel that no price on a piece means that it all has to do with emotion. If I ask too urgently the price, he will see my wanted desire for the piece and the cost will exponentially rise with the amount of glint in my eye. “Must breathe slowly,” I tell my inner self! I pick up a piece of junky glass while casually asking how much for this small little piece in the corner that has no personal connection to me. He gives me a number that is music to my ear. I now see golden rays of sunlight gleam through the window and wrap light around my new piece. I casually ask is this a Union National is there by chance a signature??
Of course no signature or marking but he knows it’s from a Jamestown Manufacturer which of course I know too. I MUST HAVE IT- IT MUST BE MINE. Then the most interesting thing happened “Let me call the guy who brought it in. I think he has a table too.” So I casually pretend I’m not listening in on the conversation and not looking too crazed. In my mind, I’m deciding a table! “DO I HAVE ROOM FOR A TABLE! Well if not I can always make room. Right?” He gets off the phone and says it’s a smaller table and this piece is signed by a Norman London. WHAMMO! My eyes loose all sense of civility. I think about reaching over and grabbing his lapels and shaking him but instead I calmly ask, “Do you mean perhaps Norman Lundin?” Yeah that could be it he verifies and I work out a time on the weekend to view the table.
Why the excitement? My grandfather after retiring in the early 1980s hand painted Chinoiserie with his brother – in – law Norman Lundin for furniture companies like Union National. YEAH YEAH!! So I waited patiently for the weekend to roll around. In the mean time, my father came over and inspected the first piece I picked up and confirmed it was hand painted Chinoiserie and pretty sure it’s Union National and either way I made a killer pick. He brings up that if it’s not Union National it could always be a Decorlac piece which was my grandfather’s business as well. Either way a win – win for me! He was unhappy with the hinges which we had to fix up. There was a back plate that was not original to the piece so I carefully pulled them apart and fixed the hinges.
Then Saturday my mom and dad ventured to the store without me to check out the piece. And the piece was a candle stand with the signature Norman Lundin. So it was snatched up and now sits just so in my living room. A good picking week for me!