Gunn Barrister Bookcase


Last week I was so excited to bring home this three section barrister bookcase for $150.00. It was a great price. I love the look of old lawyer bookcases and they are perfect to display collections. Each of the sections are a different height. The bottom is the tallest. For the time being, mine is displaying my Roseville pottery and a collection of advertising items from my great-grandfather’s garage and towing company.

This bookcase was manufactured by Gunn Furniture Co. in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Gunn Furniture company was in business from the 1890’s until the early 1950’s. I love the curved top and bottom on this piece.



I always like finding old labels on furniture. Barrister bookcases usually have paper labels or stamps with the maker and the measurements of each section. I found a paper label on the back of the top of the case, but didn’t think it had labels inside each section. When I got the piece home and was cleaning it, I happily noticed that each section did have lightly stamped labels. They are very hard to read but they are there. Yippee!



I’m so happy to have another place to display my finds!

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Before and After: Rena’s Lane Acclaim Dresser

We get asked lots of questions about refinishing and repairing vintage furniture, but we rarely get to see the fruits of our advice. A few weeks ago Snag reader Rena contacted us through the comments section of a before and after post on Kroehler Avant chairs, curious about how to refinish her Lane Acclaim dresser. Having been down that road a few times, we were able to give her some pointers. Fortunately for us, she shared her results.

Before - whole piece

Rena’s dresser wasn’t a total train wreck; the drawer fronts were in fairly good shape. But the top had several issues, including spots worn completely bare, widespread scratches and a large water ring.

Before-ring is on upper left was 3D and nasty

Rather than refinish the entire piece, we suggested she focus on the top and sides, using gel stain and polyurethane to match the original look. The results? Judge for yourself:

after - smooth!


AfterGreat work, Rena! If you’d like to see the advice we gave, check out the thread with our conversation here. We hope to do a post dedicated to Lane Acclaim in the future, but those directions should get you through in the meantime. Have you completed a great project you’d like to share? Send us pics at We love to hear from our readers!


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Weekend Finds: Tiny Finds

Last Saturday I was up bright and early for a tag sale. This involves me leaving my house at 5:15 a.m. to pick up Austin at 5:45. We made it to the sale and put our names on the sign-up sheet by 6:15 for a sale with a start time of 8:00. This tag sale was in a cute, mid-century home which increased the excitement. I didn’t have any large purchases, but here are the smalls I found.

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The bright orange Three Flowers Dusting Powder tin dates from the 1920’s. A small metal globe and bisque porcelain “Made in Japan” Kewpie doll. She is 6″ tall and has movable arms and frozen legs. Her face and body needed some cleaning. I gently used a magic eraser on her and now she shines. I have before and after images below.

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I was excited to find 3 more antique portrait pins. I now have a tiny collection of 4. They date from the late 1800’s.

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On a table of Christmas items I found this set of Italian blown glass mouse and elephant ornaments in their original box. The box is missing 2 ornaments. These ornaments are very fragile especially the pointy glass noses. I took a few close-up images. They are in excellent condition and will add some whimsy to my Christmas tree. If anyone knows anything about these ornaments please fill me in.

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My last finds came from a garage sale.  Both of these cameras were in too good of condition to leave behind. They were priced at $5 each. This first camera is a Polaroid Land Camera model 80A. It was produced from 1957-1959.

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This next camera is a Spartus. It has a bakelite body and is a basic box shaped camera. It was made in the early 1940’s by the Spartus Camera Corp. in Chicago, Ill.

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I also had some much larger purchases this week, like a 6 foot pom pom aluminum tree and an amazing barrister bookcase. I’m hoping to snap some pictures of them soon.

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How To Replace Elastic Seat Webbing

One of the mainstays of mid-century modern design is upholstered seating with an ultra thin profile, often offering only thin slab cushions resting on a minimal frame. To achieve this, bulky conventional spring cages and other foundational support materials were replaced with elastic rubber webbing. Made by Pirelli, these straps were essentially giant rubber bands with layers of reinforcing fibers to give firm but flexible support. You see these used commonly in loose cushion Danish furniture and office furniture like these Allsteel chairs.


It was a fine idea except for one little detail—natural rubber only has a lifespan of about 20 years. At 30 years the straps soften, lose elasticity and sag. At 40 years they petrify completely and shatter when flexed. You’ve probably experienced this if you’ve ever sat on a vintage chair or sofa and fell uncomfortably far into it (or fell completely through the bottom). The blue chairs above were no exception.


Underneath the straps were stretched far out of shape and were hard and brittle causing the seats to sag. They needed to be replaced, and fortunately it isn’t a tough job at all. I’ll show you how.


Supplies: 2″ woven elastic webbing, webbing clips and vise grips.

First and foremost, you’ll need the right supplies and tools. Although Pirelli webbing is still available, it is expensive and supply is limited. Plus it will be prone to the same deterioration over time. An alternative is woven elastic webbing. I bought a 1,000 foot roll from a boat supply company online (I have a lot of projects that need this stuff), but you can get it from any upholstery supply store by the foot. Be sure to buy the right width (2 inch is the most common) and the type made for seats rather than the stretchier type made for seat backs. Note that jute webbing may be easier to find locally, but it is not the same thing and it will not work. Some furniture will need webbing clips that allow the straps to fit into slots, other pieces will simply have the strapping tacked to the frame. If you need clips, you’ll also need a bench vise or a good pair of vise grips.


My chairs used clips that fit into slots in the steel chair frame. Although I had hoped to replace the straps entirely from the underside of the chair, I discovered there was not enough space to finagle the clips into their slots with the upholstery in place. After cutting off all of the old strapping (do this outside, the rubber disintegrates into a fine powder that gets EVERYWHERE) I also removed the little clips that hold the upholstery in place and carefully removed the vinyl and foam to expose the chair frame. On loose cushion furniture you’ll have easier access as the strapping usually isn’t concealed.


Then I was ready to cut the straps. The most important thing here is not to cut the straps too long or too short. If they’re too long, there won’t be enough support and the seat will sag. If they’re too short, you won’t be able to stretch them all the way across the frame. To get the length right, I attached a clip to one end of the webbing and inserted it into the frame. Then I stretched the elastic webbing as taut as I possibly could and marked where it touched the opposite slot. I cut the webbing at the mark, attached the other clip and then stretched it and snapped it into place. To attach the clips, simply slide it over the end of the webbing and use a vise or vise grips to close the clip so that the teeth grip the webbing. Once complete, I replaced the upholstery and upholstery clips.




The difference is night and day. About an hour of work turned two saggy and completely un-sittable chairs into sleek and comfortable ones without any reupholstery. On wood framed pieces with concealed strapping it might take a little reverse engineering to figure out how to best access the webbing, but the principle is the same. So next time you find a saggy sofa, buy with confidence knowing you can easily shore it up yourself.

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Garage Sale Fun & Fashion

I haven’t had any big scores recently at sales but I did find a few things within the last few weeks that are worth a quick share.

photo santa planterI found this Santa planter flocked with real fur trim at a garage sale for $1.00. It was made by Napco in 1961. The owner told me that she and her husband purchased the Christmas decoration the first year of their marriage. I like the “Best Wishes” message on the bag Santa is carrying.

photo 4 (1)How could I pass up these adorable clocks? They are both in working order.

photo chalkware dogWould you have spent $1.00 for this pipe-smoking carnival chalkware bulldog? I’m guessing him dates from the 1930’s to 1940’s.

photo earringsI’m going to finish up my post with a little fashion starting with, like, this totally rad pair of 1980’s clip-on earrings. Anyone having an 80’s party?

photo ringsAt the same sale as the earrings I bought this ring set. It is still in the original 1977 Avon box. Who doesn’t need a “Color Go Round, Convertible Ring”? And I especially need all the yellow tones it came with.

photo 2 (8)Now going way back in fashion to the 1920’s are these feather picks in bright red and pale teal. I found them in a bag with some old hats and asked if I could just buy the feathers. I paid $0.50 for the pair. They may have fancied up a hat, but I’d like to imagine these feathers tucked in the side of a forehead band of a flapper girl complete with wavy bob hairstyle. So pretty!

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