Behold…the Kuba Entertainment Center

Standard

The German made and designed Kuba models were offered for sale from 1957 to 1961.

Kuba - Music and Television

Kuba Comet

A 1961 ‘Komet’ was sold in Köln, Germany on June 9, 2001 for DM16824.14 (about $7300 USD). These sets are exceedingly rare.

Television-Broadcast-Phono-Combination

Technical Data:

TV 53 cm (21 inch) television with radio receiver and record player (phonograph).
Combined TV and radio chassis GRAETZ F 44K Record player: 4-drive record changer Telefunken TW 561
installation of a tape recorder is possible.

8 speakers total, with 2 front-facing horn speakers.
Special Feature: Upper portion with screen can swivel.
Cabinet: Palm and maple woods with polyester high-gloss finish

191 x 167 x 60 cm (75 inches x 66 inches x 24 inches)

Komet recommended price: DM 2.785,-. (Approximately $1,250.00 US, which at that time, represented more than a month’s wages for an average worker)

Sometimes You Just Need A Counterspy Outfit

Standard
Official U.N.C.L.E. Counterspy Outfit Packaging

Official U.N.C.L.E. Counterspy Outfit Packaging

The Marx 1966 Man From U.N.C.L.E. Counterspy Outfit had it all. Check out this elaborate store display up for auction at Hake’s.

U.N.C.L.E. Counter Espionage Oufit Store Display

The Official Man From U.N.C.L.E. Counter Espionage Outfit Store
Display

The Special Equipment: handcuffs, a bullet shooting lighter, a nerve spray camera, a cool walkie talkie, a bullet shooting knife, a flat hand grenade, and ammunition.

Special Equipment

Sometimes you need Special Equipment

The Disguise Kit includes: an eye patch, makeup, eye glasses, mustaches, two beards, and a badge case (just in case you need to show your real identity).

Sometime you need to change identity...

Sometimes you need to change identity

Disguises

The All Purpose Gun includes: a missile grenade, a scope, a silencer, a sonic pistol, a barrel extension, and a stock extension.

You always need a good gun...

You always need a good gun

And, of course, what self-respecting counterspy would leave home without the obligatory attache case?

The Weatherproof Trench Coat With Secret Pockets includes a Special Squirting Button for creative use.

So there ya' have it - you're dressed for any mission.

So there ya’ have it – you are dressed and equipped for any mission.

‘Future Fantasy’ In 1930 Germany

Standard

German Engineering.

Those words have traditionally conjured up thoughts of quality and creativity. During the period of the Third Reich, physicists, scientists, and engineers were encouraged to stretch their imaginations and develop things that had previously been only dreamed of in science fiction.

While most people are familiar with the works carried out at the The Peenemünde Army Research Center – the birthplace of modern rocketry and spaceflight – very few people are aware of other areas of technological research that had been in progress during that time. A very hushed bit of technological history is the part where the United States and the Soviet Union obtained a wealth of information and designs while pillaging after the fall of the Third Reich. Much of that technological information was incomplete as the scientists and engineers attempted to either hide or destroy it in order to keep it from the victors’ hands.

Because the U.S. required German know-how in order to further develop these technologies the government instituted the now well known Operation Paperclip in which more than 1,500 German scientists, engineers, and technicians were brought to the United States from Nazi Germany and other countries for employment in the aftermath of World War II. The celebrated rocket scientist, Wernher von Braun, was one alumni from this class. A number of researchers contend that the big UFO phenomenon in the late 1940s and particularly in the 1950s was the result of projects originating at a remote detachment of Edwards Air Force Base within the Nevada Test and Training Range officially referred to as Restricted Area 4808 North (R-4808N) – popularly known as ‘Area 51’ aka ‘Groom Lake’. It was here that U.S. and Operation Paperclip members worked on the research and development of the German technologies discovered post conflict – including ‘flying disc’ engineering designs. A few of the recognized aircraft developed at Groom Lake are the A-12 OXCART, SR-71 Blackbird, and the F-117A Nighthawk – aircraft so advanced that CIA documents acknowledge that they account for dozens of UFO sightings over the years.

One last point relevant to the following pictorial presentation is that while the incredible research and inventions of the great scientist Nikola Tesla were marginalized and ignored in the U.S. due to moneyed interests, the Germans were very much interested in his advanced and forward thinking works. Tesla was passionate about wireless communications and ‘free energy’ – while theoretical physicists obsessed over Newtonian science, Tesla took an electric field and plasma (aether) energy approach. German tech developers seemed to take this approach to heart. One of the most storied and controversial projects of the Third Reich – one that Adolf Hitler counted on until the end – was ‘the secret weapon’ known as ‘Die Glocke’ (‘The Bell’). Some skeptics say that this bizarre anti-gravity device never existed, but there is increasing evidence that it had indeed been at an advanced stage of development previous to the fall of the Third Reich. From the schematics it appears to be very much a Tesla inspired technology.

Now to the fun part of this post. In 1930, a company known as True Wagner Margarine produced the third of a series of books designed as a display for a collection of stickers made available separately. In this book is a section called Future Fantasy. No artist or author is credited. The illustrations are beautiful, the technology is actually quite brilliant and not so far fetched. The book is called, Echte Wagner Margarine Album Nr. 3″, Serien 12 und 13 (Genuine Wagner Margarine Album Nr. 3″, series 12 and 13). It was published by Elmshorn in Holstein, Germany. With what is now known about the developments in German technology during this period, one could imagine that a lot of the designs and ideas presented might have been considered a bit more seriously than ‘fantasy’.

Echte Wagner Album Nr. 3 - Cover Image

Echte Wagner Margarine Album Nr. 3 – Cover Image

The Artificial Island

The Artificial Island – Since there is no island located on the shortest route to America which could serve the aircraft as a port of refuge, a good idea is to anchor an artificial landing place on the ocean. Of course, located on the island are hotels, spas, restaurants and a movie theater, so that the passengers have their convenience if a storm detains for several days on the island.

The Rocket Plane

The Rocket Plane – The aircraft of the future powered by rockets. The rockets are fitted at the stern of the vessel, which propel the aircraft forward through the recoil of the escaping gases. The aircraft shown here is just going to skim past the Nankoupaß and the ancient Great Wall Of China with 10000 kilograms of mail on the way from Berlin to Tokyo. Since it has an hourly rate of 1,000 km, it takes nearly 8 hours for the Berlin-Tokyo route. A steamer today needs about 50 days!

The Rocket Airships

The Rocket Airships – The rocket planes have assumed huge proportions and consist only of a pair of wings in the shape of a parabola. The lavishly decorated cabins are built into the wings and take 400 passengers. Because there is no hull, the control fins are located at the ends of the wings. The driver’s cab, from which the missiles are made to fire, is located in the middle of the air cruiser deck.

Private Aircraft With Nuclear Propulsion

Private Aircraft With Nuclear Propulsion – Here we have the opportunity to meet a plane nearby. Yes, where is the propeller? That was once! The aircraft rises vertically and settles down vertically. The motor is a small capsule, in which the atom fragmentation takes place. On the right is an aircraft and an aircraft parking garage.

A New Driving Force

A New Driving Force – To move loads forwards, one exploits the tremendous power that is released during the disintegration of atoms. All cars drive with only a tiny motor which is driven by nuclear power. The speed of cars has grown accordingly. In the divided road, take 200 to 300 kilometers through the city, on the major highways the speed of 1000 km speed per hour is not uncommon!

Wireless Home Phone and Television

Wireless Home Phone and Television – Each person now has their own transmitter and receiver and can converse on a certain wave with acquaintances and relatives. But the television technology has become so perfected that one can look the friends in the face at the same time. Transmitter and receiver are no longer bound to the location, but is carried in a box the size of a photo apparatus.

Landing Of A Spaceship On The Moon

Landing Of A Spaceship On The Moon – Is this not wrong? Shouldn’t the rockets ignite at the stern of the vessel and spew their fire back? No, it’s for accuracy! The ship is landing, and therefore it has brought the Retropackage to deploy and quickly reduce the frenzied speed. Now you can easily make the landing on the Moon.

Spaceship Post

Spaceship Post – Because there are rare minerals on the Moon, capital was formed in America with $20 billion by the MoMA-A.G. (Moon minerals yield A.G.), which maintains a busy space ship traffic. At the stopover, the ships renew their rocket fuel on the ports floating freely in space.

The images above are via Retro-Futurismus – to see more click here.

The ‘Primal’ made by Arnold of West Germany – A neat little mid-century cold-war artifact.

Standard
The Arnold 'Primal' Streamlined Coupe

The Arnold ‘Primal’ Streamlined Coupe

This is a fine example of the Arnold ‘Primal’ streamlined coupe made in the ‘US-Zone Germany’ – probably late 1940s – early 1950s. It’s 9 1/2″ in length, has two neat composition passengers, and is powered by a unique crank mechanism. The rear seat even has a stylish plaid pattern.

Milestone Auctions has it up for grabs on liveauctioneers, Lot 478. Bidding is open and the auction goes live 7:00 AM PT – Dec 12.

The Arnold 'Primal' Streamlined Coupe Rear View - it's missing a tail light but like they say, 'that gives it character.'

The Arnold ‘Primal’ Streamlined Coupe Rear View – it’s missing a tail light but like they say, ‘that gives it character.’ The ‘Primal’ emblem can be seen on the back and sides. It also has rubber white-wall tires.

The Wind-Up Mechanism - It's wound with the crank then the button on the side is pushed.

The Wind-Up Mechanism – It’s wound with the crank then the button on the side is pushed. The ‘Primal’ design…way cool.

A View From The Front - Such a nice looking couple. And check the seat cover design. The front license plate is a nice touch. And the chrome...

A View From The Front – Such a nice looking couple. And check the seat cover design. Of course it has a front (and rear) license plate for a nice touch. And the chrome…

The ‘Primal’ made by Arnold of West Germany – A neat little mid-century cold-war artifact.

When Selling Miraculous Breathing Pellets You Can’t Go Wrong By Using An Acrobatic Automaton

Standard
Advertising sign for a pharmacy storefront with two moving figures of a clown and acrobat

Pastilles Valda, Advertising Automaton ‘Clown & Acrobat’, 1930s

This neat advertising display was intended for pharmacy storefronts selling VALDA Pellets – ‘to prevent and treat cough, colds, sore throats, laryngitis, bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma.’ For healthier ‘air, breath, lungs, muscles.’

If it’s good enough to keep this athletic acrobat going it’s gotta be good for those just taking in air.

The acrobat gets into his swing. The clown's in position to spot.

The acrobat gets into his swing. The clown’s in position to spot.

The acrobat comes over the bar backwards and releases for a one-hand grip. His clown buddy enthuses for the viewers.

The acrobat comes over the bar backwards and releases for a one-hand grip. His clown buddy enthuses for the viewers.

A view from the top.

A view from the top.

This display is an electric sheet-iron lithographed piece. One can really appreciate the thought and craftsmanship put into these automaton displays. Apparently someone did in a real way – this particular item sold on auction for €1,298.00 ($1,458.17).

The Wonderful and Weird World of Wind-Ups

Standard
Late 1800s Ives Wind-Up Bear With Real Fur

Late 1800s Ives Wind-Up Bear With Real Fur (probably dyed rabbit fur) – A mechanical walker with key. Walks, makes mild growling noise. Head turns side-to-side. Jaw moves up and down.

Mechanical automatons have fascinated the curious for a very long time. In the 20th century toy wind-ups became a mainstay in popular culture. Most weren’t as elaborate as the Ives bear pictured above, but a lot of them were pretty neat. Below are a selection of some stand-out examples.

A Scarce Lehmann Captain of Kopenick Wind-Up

A Scarce 1903 Lehmann Captain of Kopenick Wind-Up – Depicts the true story of an infamous cobbler who stole the town of Kopenick, Germany’s money while dressed as an army officer. When wound the Captain rocks back and forth.

German Early 1900s Snookums Wind-Up

German Early 1900s Snookums Wind-Up – A character toy from early George McManus newspaper comic strips Their Only Child. Snookums is very hyperactive, when she’s wound she shakes about frantically.

Foxy Grandpa Wind-Up, c. 1910

Foxy Grandpa Wind-Up, c. 1910 – This is a scarce early version of the Foxy Grandpa wind-up. His weighted feet have a clockwork-like mechanism enabling him to walk.

Toonerville Trolley The Powerful Katrinka German Wind-Up, 1923

Toonerville Trolley The Powerful Katrinka German Wind-Up, 1923 (Fontaine Fox) – When wound, Katrinka pushes the wheelbarrow carrying little Jimmy forward, stopping every so often to lift up the wheelbarrow before continuing on.

Happy Hooligan/Buster Brown-Like Mechanical Toy, c. 1920

Happy Hooligan/Buster Brown-Like Mechanical Toy, c. 1920 (German) – This is a spring loaded toy. The main figure bears a resemblance to Happy Hooligan. When he is cocked and released, the hammer hits the anvil, yellow slide shoots up column to hit character at top who bears a strong resemblance to Buster Brown. When this character is hit, the ring in his hand flips to opposite side.

Marx New York Wind-Up Box

Marx New York Wind-Up Box

1928 Marx New York Tin Litho Wind-Up

1928 Marx New York Tin Litho Wind-Up – The plane circles around the skyline in the center. The train circles the outer ring of the base, going through three tunnels in buildings, one w/ a clock tower at top. The train is headed by a steam locomotive and moves in conjunction w/ plane.

When wound, Bonzo's separate tin litho eyes and jaw move up and down, giving the toy the illusion of blinking and speaking.

When wound, Bonzo’s separate tin litho eyes and jaw move up and down, giving the toy the illusion of blinking and speaking.

Bonzo Animated Wind-Up Toy, 1930s

Bonzo Animated Wind-Up Toy, 1930s (Germany) – When wound, Bonzo wobbles around.

Jitter-Bug Wind-Up Dancing Toy

Jitter-Bug Wind-Up Dancing Toy, 1930s (Chime Toy Products) – When wound these stylish figures move up and down as if dancing the 1930s classic.

Clown Marionette Playing GuitarGal Marionette Playing Tambourine

Bestmade Mechanical Marionette Theater Wind-Up

Bestmade Mechanical Marionette Theater Wind-Up, 1930s by Kuramochi, Japan – When wound the base rocks back and forth as figures move about.

Pango-Pango African Dance Wind-Up,

Pango-Pango African Dance Wind-Up, 1950s (T.P.S. Japan) – When wound Pango-Pango dances and his head bobs up and down.

Comical Clara Wind-Up, 1960s

Comical Clara Wind-Up, 1960s (T.P.S., Japan) – Clara is all 60s and weird. When she’s wound up her entire body shakes side to side as it moves around and her separate tin eyes move in and out of the eye socket openings so when eyes are fully extended, Clara has quite an unusual appearance.

The last wind-up for this post doesn’t do much – he just looks cool. He’s a clown manufactured by J. Chein & Co. (USA) (n.d.) – He just walks and wobbles.

Chein & Co. Clown Wind-Up

(All images via Hake’s Americana and Collectables)

Some Super Mid-Century Mod Designs

Standard

So, Wright auction house in Chicago, Illinois, takes great pride in their specialization of modern and contemporary design. After a look at the items available in their upcoming June 10, 2015 auction, it’s easy to understand why. Rather than give details for each lot (i.e. starting bid amounts, etc.) this post will mainly focus on the items themselves. There’s some really rare and marvy examples of mid-century design to appreciate. All images can be viewed in larger format by clicking the pic. (If you are interested in any of the items, click on the name of the piece and you’ll get to the listing at Invaluable online.)

First, a look at a couple sofas and one daybed:

Helge Vestergaard Jensen adjustable (backrest) sofa, model 701 - Denmark, 1961

Helge Vestergaard Jensen adjustable (backrest) sofa model 701 (Denmark, 1961)Minimalistic but very stylish

Taichiro Nakai rare and important sofa, Japan, 1954.

Taichiro Nakai rare and important sofa (Japan, 1954)
This rare sofa successfully combines the dynamic formal qualities of postwar design with the restraint and elegance of Japanese aesthetics. The design was an award-winning entry for the 1955 Concorso internazionale del Mobile, Cantu. The jury for the competition included Alvar Aalto, Finn Juhl, Gio Ponti and Carlo de Carli.

Osvaldo Borsani L77 daybedOsvaldo Borsani L77 daybed (reclining)

Above is the Osvaldo Borsani L77 daybed (Italy, 1956) – shown in the flat position and the reclining position. The enameled steel mechanism design of the frame and legs gives it a very industrial look. It’s a look that remains modern and would fit in well with today’s contemporary loft apartment designs.

Below are some super mid-century chair designs:

Gio Ponti Distex lounge chair, model 807 (Italy 1953).

Gio Ponti Distex lounge chair, model 807 (Italy, 1953) – A personal favorite – an agelessly fab design. Model 807 is covered with high quality skai material – a faux leather that is indistinguishable from the real thing. This particular chair has some staining – fortunately, there are some very good skai treatments on the market today.

Class and Style: Hans Wegner rare Bear chair and ottoman (Denmark, 1950/1969)

Class and Style: Hans Wegner rare Bear chair and ottoman (Denmark, 1950/1969) – Few examples of the Bear chair were produced. This rare example featuring original leather was acquired from Johannes Hansen by the present owner.

Pierre Guariche G10 lounge chairs (France, 1954)

Pierre Guariche G10 lounge chairs (France, 1954) – Plywood was a very popular material with mid-century modern designers. The wood armrest version of the G10 lounge chairs was produced for only two years before it was replaced by an entirely upholstered version.

George Nelson & Associates Coconut chairs (USA 1956) - a classic.

George Nelson & Associates Coconut chairs (USA 1956) – a classic made with plastic body molding, enameled and chrome plated steel legs, and…naugahyde seat covering.

A bit of side trivia:

Nauga
The iconic creature above is a Nauga – the rare and exotic animals who lived in Sumatra and shed their hide each year…resulting in Naugahyde. The product manufacturers of this new material (polyvinyl chloride, AKA vinyl, leatherette, sponge leather, and PVC), Uniroyal, were more than willing to allow for the Nauga’s notoriety. When Johnny Carson had a Nauga as guest on The Tonight Show in 1966, the creatures hit stardom like never before.

Back to one more chair:

Frank Lloyd Wright rare Executive Office chair (USA 1956)Frank Lloyd Wright rare Executive Offoice chair (USA 1956)

Shown above is a quasi-spaceage marvel – the very rare Frank Lloyd Wright Executive Office chair (USA 1956). Due to their complex construction, few of these Executive Office chairs were produced. This is one of three known examples; one example remains in the Price Tower Arts Center, Bartlesville, Oklahoma and the other sold at Wright in March of 2005.

A few lighting designs:

Charlotte Perriand wall lights (France, 1950)

Charlotte Perriand wall lights (France, 1950) – Classy, colorful and fun, and made of enameled steel.

Gio Ponti – nuff said.

Vladimir Kagan Cygnet floor lamp, model 2080 (USA, 1957)

Vladimir Kagan Cygnet floor lamp, model 2080 (USA, 1957) – A somewhat conservative design but with a flair of modernism.

And we’ll end this post with a couple decorative objects:

The two sculptures above are examples of Harry Bertoia’s Sonambient creations. Bertoia was already a world-renowned designer and sculptor when he, by accident, discovered an interest in the sounds of two or more metal rods striking each other. He began to design sound sculptures like the ones above. Through the years he created numerous types of various shapes and sizes. He also recorded eleven vinyl albums featuring the abstract sounds with titles like Space Voyage and Sounds Beyond. The Washington Post has a great online story about Harry Bertoia and his fascinating works – click here to read more about that.

Harry Bertoia's Sonambient LP reissue. (image courtesy of Beverly Twitchell via Dwell)

Harry Bertoia’s Sonambient LP reissue. (image courtesy of Beverly Twitchell via Dwell)

Leo Amino Untitled (USA, c. 1955) - A most excellent Amino abstract (carved mahogany, brass wire, and aluminum).

Leo Amino Untitled (USA, c. 1955) – A most excellent Amino abstract sculpture (carved mahogany, brass wire, and aluminum).

And this:

Isamu Noguchi Measured Time clock and kitchen timer (USA, 1932)

Isamu Noguchi Measured Time clock and kitchen timer (USA, 1932) – This early work marks Noguchi’s first industrial design for commercial manufacture. White Bakelite examples of this form are extremely rare.

Some really great stuffs. Not just fascinating design, but also wonderful historic gems.