A Buyers guide to Mid Century Sideboards

A Buyers guide to Mid Century Sideboards – We usually have between 40 and 60 sideboards, or as Americans will call them credenzas in stock. Many will be standard models by large British makers such as G Plan and McIntosh, and these will usually be found on our warehouse site www.vintageretro.co.uk . Every year we export mainly British ones to various parts of Europe, and have sent many further afield in bulk containers to Japan. We do get asked to sell individual ones to US and Australian private buyers, but the shipping costs for sending single pieces is such that only the best models by Beithcraft and one or two others will justify the expense . Single pieces that are to be shipped by air or sea firstly need to be crated, and that is just the first expensive stage in shipping . We have couriers who can deliver to many parts of Europe.

Sideboards were originally designed as dining room pieces, but today are bought for living rooms, often as a surface to stand a TV whilst storing other gadgets and clutter out of sight at the same time. There is therefore a much bigger demand for the right models than there is for some of the tables and chairs that were originally bought with them.

As with dining tables the main woods you will see used are teak and rosewood. As a guide rosewood will usually cost about twice as much as teak, and would have done so when newly purchased. Danish models will usually work out at twice as much as British ones of similar quality and design. There are a couple of models that come to mind where a British design looks very similar to a Danish one. Our favourite model of British sideboard is by White & Newton of Portsmouth, and sells in top condition for around £800-£1000, it looks very similar to a Danish model by Mogens Kold which we’ve seen priced at around £2000 plus. We currently have 2 G Plan Danish Range sideboards designed by Ib Kofod Larsen as well as a Danish one also designed by him, and the Danish one is around twice as much as the G Plan ones. At the end of the day demand and supply dictates the price levels of pieces along with condition, and whether you’re prepared to buy from photos or want to see things ” in the flesh ” in a London shop or Fair.

Most British sideboards were made in standard sizes , 7ft ( 213 cms )being one commonly seen size by G Plan and others, whereas 6ft ( 183ms  ) ones are likely to be by cheaper makers such as Beautility as they were designed for smaller less wealthy households. The 2 biggest UK makers G Plan and McIntosh also produced smaller versions, often 5ft ( 152.5cms ), but there are probably around 10 of the longer versions for every smaller one. Danish and Swedish sideboards are usually around 190cms or 200cms or in some cases just over 250cms.

We’re always being asked for sideboards around 150 cms or less, but very few as small as this were made. As we noted above G Plan smallest models after 1964 were 152.5cms, and most smaller McIntosh models were 160cms-175cms. Makers such as Younger, White & Newton and a number of others rarely made smaller sideboards and when they did they were only a very small part of their production so are rarely seen today. Some British dressing tables can be easily turned into short sideboards by simply removing the mirrors and the upright supports, but again many were a standard size at 5ft in length, so 152.5cms. Occasionally really short sideboards will be found, but as they’re rare they may cost you more than longer better quality models.

A lot of people say they have a solid wood sideboard, but very few are actually solid. British models by A Younger and Dalescraft from the early and mid 1960s are often solid teak or afromosia ( slightly darker than teak ), but they are exceptions. All G Plan and McIntosh sideboards are just veneered on to a dense form of chipboard, as are many Danish ones from the later 1960s and 70s. Its usually only the earlier late 1950s models that were made from solid woods.

Beware Ebay sellers saying that marks can easily be removed. If its so easy , they should do it themselves first! A number of years ago we bought a sideboard which the seller described as ” refurbished ”, unfortunately it was in a dark basement and we didn’t spot that they’d managed to go through the veneer as they’d been careless with an electric sander. Virtually all vintage sideboards will have some minor signs of wear, though some owners have been careful and truly looked after their pieces. Some pieces look perfect in a house or auction room, but when photographed under our strong lighting light ring marks suddenly appear, yet you’re unlikely to see them under domestic lighting unless you look very closely. Some buyers are wanting as near perfect as possible, others are happy to accept the odd mark or three.

When choosing vintage pieces you have to decide whether to buy a piece in vintage condition or professionally re-furbished. We have a time-served furniture restorer with over 15 years of polishing experience. With care and patience there are 3 of us capable of lightly cleaning and removing shallow marks on teak, but only Les with his years of experience can remove deeper marks, and then give them a good waxed finish. The pieces you’ll find on this website are our best models, and those that have been cleaned and re-polished beautifully when necessary, whereas most of those on our vintageretro site will be in varying vintage condition unless marked as restored or refurbished. To clean and repolish a teak sideboard properly will cost around £100-£150 in labour, and probably around double for a rosewood one. As we have an in-house restorer and an in-house upholsterer we can save a lot of time in transporting pieces backwards and forwards, and we don’t really add rent, light, heat and other costs in to our calculations, so don’t expect your local restorer to charge anywhere near as little as this!

We constantly look at Ebay, and occasionally manage to find pieces to buy, but if for instance you look at Buy It Now prices you’ll find an amazing difference in asking prices on identical models. There is 1 model by McIntosh where business sellers are asking anything between £225 and £895! The cheaper ones are in vintage condition needing work, the £895 one has been fully re-furbished but ridiculously overpriced. Prices are going to vary, and you’ve got to expect to pay more from a London shop or at a specialist Fair than you would for an item you’re buying on Ebay.

All G Plan teak sideboards from the 1960s and 70s are nicely made , whether they’re from their standard 1960s range , their later Fresco and Sierra ones or the Danish Range . A G Plan 7ft Fresco teak sideboard in good vintage condition can cost as little as £250-£300 , and a refurbished one £350-£400 . They’re excellent value as to buy a British made piece of this quality today would probably cost somewhere between £2000-£3000 , which is why they’re so popular with foreign dealers . McIntosh of Kirkcaldy in Scotland were their main competitors at the time , but they produced a bigger range of models some of which are particularly popular outside the UK . This means they can be more expensive than their G Plan counterparts especially one or two rare and popular models . British makers like Younger and Dalescraft were smaller companies and better quality , and more expensive when new , and some of their models along with those of White + Newton are really stylish and thus more expensive than G Plan . The most sought after British teak sideboards are the floating designs of Beithcraft which sell at a premium today as they’re so quirky and different from anything else you’ll see .

When it comes to Danish designs there is always the ” named designer ” factor to take into account . Anything by Hans Wegner and Finn Juhl will automatically be more expensive than pieces by the next level of know names to look out for which include Johannes Andersen , Ib Kofod Larsen , Arne Vodder and a number of others . The quality of most of the pieces by known Danish designers and makers is as good as it gets , particularly with those pieces from the late 1950s and early 1960s . Those by lesser makers and designers can be excellent , but there were many pieces made for less wealthy buyers who wanted the look but couldn’t afford the top pieces .

You can go to Ebay and see cheap teak sideboards by British makers such as Beautility and Stonehill which at the time were aimed at people with less spending power . The quality is not great and we don’t think that usually they’re worth restoring properly , particularly when much better pieces are still available at affordable prices . Most people don’t have £3000-£4000 available to buy the top Danish pieces or the top models by sought after British makers such as Merrow Associates . Our aim is to offer quality pieces in good condition , whether vintage or restored at prices ranging from around £250 -£5000 . Your style and of course your budget may dictate what you’re looking for , but we hope that we can help you find the right piece . We’re constantly buying new pieces so let us know what you’re looking for , it’s sometimes just arrived in our stock or may be waiting for restoration .