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How Do I Buy Mid-Century Furniture at Auction?

Debbie Porter

This set of 4 mid-century painted teak and vinyl kitchen/dining chairs sold for just £5 at our Cobridge saleroom – an absolute steal!

What is mid-century furniture?

Mid-century furniture origins began in America, with style influences from Germany, and is sometimes referred to as mid-century modern. Mid-century furniture is all about simplicity and functionality. Even though the exact dates for mid-century classification are often disputed, it’s most common to find mid-century furniture is classed as pieces created from the mid-1930s to mid-1960s. The style is based on how useful and sleek the piece of furniture can be and has seen a big resurgence in popularity over the past couple of years.

Why is mid-century furniture popular?

One of the most popular mid-century furniture designers, Charles and Ray Eames, described the style of mid-century furniture design as: “Getting the most of the best to the greatest number of people for the least amount of money.” It provides a great definition of the era and the thinking behind the style. This thinking is still true today, as mid-century pieces have longevity and value for money at the heart of their design. It’s why you’ll find vintage and antique pieces that will still last you for years to come – they were made to last.

You might also find that mid-century furniture has a specific set of design features:

  • Contrasting materials or colours
  • Clean strong lines or geometric shapes as part of the design
  • The functional elements of the piece are paramount
  • Minimal stylistic additions – simple is best
  • Crafted from traditional materials such as teak, elm or beech
A mid-century G-Plan tall boy teak chest of 7 drawers

This mid-century G-Plan tall boy teak chest of 7 drawers sold at a recent auction for £45. You can see its simple, strong design fits with the stylish constraints and expectations of the mid-century era.

Which mid-century brands or designers should I look out for?

There were many mid-century furniture designers, we’ve listed the most popular and common ones here:

  • George Nelson
  • Edward Wormley
  • Eero Saarinen
  • Harry Bertoia
  • Arne Jacobsen
  • Charles Eames and Ray Eames
  • Eileen Gray
  • Isamu Noguchi
  • Verner Panton
  • Jens Risom
  • Alexander Girard

What mid-century furniture pieces have sold at auction recently?

We’ve rounded up some of our favourite pieces of mid-century furniture that have sold at our recent auctions. We think you’ll love these pieces as much as we do!

A mid-century arched top Danish teak display cabinet

This stunning mid-century arched top Danish teak display cabinetsold for £50 in our Silverdale saleroom as part of the August 2020 auction of 20th century British pottery, collectors’ items, and antiques. It’s a great example of the quality furniture you can buy to add style and personality to your home for a low cost.

A mid-century retro leather chair

This beautiful mid-century retro leather chair sold for £32 at a past Silverdale auction. It could be a powerful statement piece to your home, or it could be revamped, upcycled and resold. You just won’t believe the variety of mid-century furniture pieces available!

A mid-century Ercol TV Cabinet in honey elm with hideaway doors and detailed handles

Another unusual and unique item, this mid-century Ercol TV Cabinet in honey elm with hideaway doors and detailed handles sold for £30 in our Silverdale saleroom. This even has wheels, so it would be easy to place in your home.

How valuable is mid-century furniture?

Whilst mid-century furniture can vary in its pricing, you can hunt out bargains at auction and you can sell your pieces for a good price. Here at Potteries Auctions, we canidentify and provide valuations on a wide range of mid-century furniture pieces and we can offer professional advice to help you determine how valuable a piece is. Please get in touch with usto discuss how we can help you or request a call back if you are looking for an expert evaluation and are seeking to sell your collection or seek out distinctive pieces to add to your home.

Where can I find mid-century furniture?

Auctions, car boot sales and even charity shops are great locations for spotting mid-century furniture bargains. Keep your eyes peeled and you’ll be sure to spot a beautiful piece for your living room!

Did you know we can collect your auction pieces of furniture from anywhere in the UK? We also offer solutions for shipping too, if you spot a piece, you like and you want it delivered to your home. We can pack and safely post your goods, perfect for transporting pieces that have been bought via our online auctions.

If you have mid-century furniture items that you’re considering selling at auction, get in touch and we can help you with a valuation. Talk to our team of experts who will be able to give you an accurate auction estimate on a range of items from household goods to antiques. You can join us at one of our valuation days every Tuesday. Email us for an appointment or call us on +44 (0)1782 638100 Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm.