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|Paul McCobb was a furniture designer, whose work is sited as having contributed to the introduction of modular furniture.
Brief history and description of designer
Paul McCobb was born in Boston on 5th June 1917. He trained as a fine artist, and after embarking on a career in interior design, his focus shifted to furniture design. In 1945 he was working as a decorator and designer, and in 1950 set up in business as a furniture designer, despite having no formal training in this arena.
His first furniture line, the Planner Group, consisted of affordable and stylish pieces which went on to become amongst the bestselling furniture collections of the 1950s. McCobb designed several other, arguably more luxurious furniture collections, yet his target market remained post-war, middle class households with a thirst for innovative and forward-thinking furniture.
His work became very popular with consumers, and sales were high. Whilst his work was undoubtedly a success, McCobb’s early death in 1969 is thought to have prevented him from finding the widespread professional recognition he sought during his lifetime, though in the years since he has acquired the acclaim which eluded him in life.
Guide for Collectors
McCobb's furniture was among the bestselling of the 1950s. He was also a very prolific designer. His Planner Group was in continuous production until 1964 (starting in 1949), manufactured by Winchedon Furniture. Other well-known furniture lines by McCobb include Predictor by O'Hearn Furniture, The Irwin Group by Calvin Furniture, The Calvin Group by Calvin Furniture, The Linear Group by Calvin Furniture, and The Connoisseur Collection by H. Sacks and Sons.
His department store collections were designed to meet the needs of starting homemakers, and were practical and flexible. His 'living walls' allowed for the maximum efficiency in smaller spaces, with their compact storage systems and moveable room dividers. McCobb became a household name, even earning the nickname "America's Decorator". His work has been exhibited at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Notable auction sales
McCobb items have sold for anything from under $100 to well into the $1000s. At the lower end of the price range, a Paul McCobb padded stool sold from Kimballs Auction & Estate for $50 on 20th September 2008, and a dresser sold from Treadway Gallery for $75 on 7th May 2006.
A "Calvin" line formica table sold for $100 from Mid-Hudson Auction Galleries on 12th November 2011, whilst a McCobb drawer and dresser sold from Concept Art Gallery for $250 on 19th November 2011, and a Paul McCobb server sold from S&S Auction Inc. for $300 on 23rd August 2005.
Towards the top end of the price scale, a modern dresser sold for $700 on 12th November 2011 from Roland New York, a "Calvin" pair of benches sold for $1200 from Rago Arts & Auction Centre on 2nd October 2011, an eight-drawer sideboard sold from the Mid-Hudson Auction Galleries for £2000 on 12th November 2011, and a set of dining chairs were sold from the Treadway Gallery on 18th September 2011 for $2200.
The top sale for Paul McCobb's works at auction was a pair of Directional End Tables by Calvin Furniture which sold at Rago Arts & Auction Center for $7,320 on 5th February 2011
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