Milo Baughman’s Perspective

A couple weeks ago while making a stop at one of my favorite flea markets, I spied this interesting mid-century corner table from across the room.

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I thought the form was interesting, but from a distance it looked like someone had peeled away all the veneer from the top, exposing some sort of particle board substrate. Upon closer inspection, however, I discovered the top was actually covered with cork veneer. Very interesting. In fact the whole design of the thing was interesting and well crafted. It needed a little work but it was still in very restorable condition, so I decided to spend the whopping 10 bucks to buy it. When I flipped it over to carry it out, I learned what it was.

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Drexel is best known as a manufacturer of heirloom-quality traditional furnishings, but in the 1950s and 60s they were at the forefront of modernism with exciting lines designed by high-profile designers. The Perspective line is packed with impossibly chic pieces created by the esteemed Milo Baughman (best known for his decades of iconic furniture design for Thayer-Coggin) and was introduced in 1952.

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I always love discovering Drexel pieces. In addition to excellent design and remarkable craftsmanship, Drexel pieces always have some unique touches. The use of mahogany on this table is not unusual for the early 1950s, however the fact that it is left natural (most manufacturers of this period opted for a cabernet-stained look) and rather exotically grained stock make it feel special. And that cork top—well, I don’t know what to think of that.

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The only comparable table I’ve been able to find in research has a wood top, which introduces the possibility that the cork was added at a later date. Yet the cork is inlaid with such precision and there are no signs that the edge banding securing it or the cabinet that sits on top of it have ever been disturbed. So, I’m not really sure if it’s original or not, but I like how it looks and it will remain. Now I just have to figure out how one goes about refinishing cork…

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3 Comments

  1. Chad
    Posted February 23, 2015 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    I have a few of these pieces and many of them came with cork on top so this one would be original. I cleaned mine up with a magic eraser. Nice piece you found for $10!

    • Austin
      Posted February 23, 2015 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for verifying that, Chad. I haven’t had a chance to do anything with mine yet, but surely the thaw will come one of these days and I get it refinished.

  2. Douglas
    Posted September 7, 2019 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    I have one. The cork is original to the piece as it is to the end table that I also have one of . Those two pieces are what remain of a set bought by my parents in the early 50s in Cincinnati Ohio when they were starting out.

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