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Modern, maybe not Swedish

In the late 1930s a group of Swedish designers began making furniture with light woods and modern shapes. Bruno Mathesson, who worked at his father's furniture factory in Varnamo, Sweden, was one of the designers. He studied the "physiology of seating" or what we call ergonomics today. This led to designs for unusual chairs that were made to be comfortable and practical.

The chairs were made from curved sections of beech or another light-colored laminated wood. Seats were often made of cloth or leather webbing.

The words "Swedish modern" now mean that they are pieces made of light wood with straight lines. The term does not demand that either the designer or the manufacturer is from Sweden.

Pulp magazines

Question: I own many old magazines. Some of the early ones were called Argosy or Blue Book. They are like comics, but I believe they are called pulp magazines. They have Tarzan and other adventure stories.

Answer: We now read paperbacks as our light reading. The public read dime novels in the 19th century, and in the early 20th century the light fiction stories were found only in pulp magazines.

The inexpensive booklets were printed on cheap pulp paper. The covers were lurid, bloody scenes.

From about 1900 to 1940 titles like The Shadow, Doc Savage, Black Mask, Weird Tales and Adventure Magazine were sold at the magazine stands and bookstores.

Collectors save the magazines and the original art that was used for the covers.

Western Coke tray

Question: I have a metal plate that has the following printed on the back: "Vienna Art Plates Pat. Feb. 21st 1905, Western Coca-Cola Bottling Co." On the front is a picture of a girl with long hair. She is wearing a blanket from the waist down, and her breasts are exposed. Is it valuable?

Answer: Vienna Art is a trademark that was used by H.D. Beach Co. of Coshocton, Ohio. That company and several others in Coshocton made millions of tin advertising plates from the 1890s to the 1950s.

The plate has long been popular with Coke collectors. It was used only by the Western Coca-Cola Bottling Co. The company felt that the woman pictured was not the proper image for Coca-Cola.

Current prices

Amphora vase, matte brown, overglazed, 2 parrots on branch, marked, 7 in.: $99.

Coca-Cola tip tray, Flapper Girl, 1923: $175.

Send questions to: Antiques, Ralph and Terry Kovel, c/o The St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 22900, Beachwood, Ohio 44122. Questions of general interest will be answered in the column.