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Ask A Worthologist Question: Parzinger Wall Sconce

by Mike Wilcox (09/26/12).

David H, a part-time picker for a half-dozen dealers, found a lighting unit he thought might be worth more than just a few dollars, so he put the question to our “Ask a Worthologist” service. Worthologist Mike Wilcox was able to confirm David’s suspicions that it was worth more than just a little cash.

David H, “picks” part-time for a half-dozen dealers and enjoys going to auctions, flea markets or even grabbing the occasion leftovers roadside from yard sales. Most of what he runs into never seems to be worth much, but if it was almost free and he can turn a few dollars on it, he’s quite happy. One piece was outside his normal area of expertise and it niggled at him that this was not the average, run-of-the-mill item he usually finds. He’s used our “Ask a Worthologist” for an opinion of value a number of times in the past and decided this one needed a look by our staff as well. His inquiry was forwarded to me.

Here’s his question:

“I’ve used the Worthologist service a number of times before for items I’ve picked at yards sales and even stuff left as “free junk” on the roadside after garage sales. Since the information has always been on the money (much to the dismay of dealers I sell to), I’ve decided to contact you again. I picked this piece out of a box lot in a yard sale about a month ago and have been putting off selling it because there is just something about it that makes me reluctant to let it go until I know for sure what I have. It’s a wall sconce and I think it is designer piece of some kind from the late 1940s, Art Deco or maybe Scandinavian? There is a mark on it, but it’s quite small and does not come out well in photographs, it looks like a backwards “PVR.” As per my usual request, I’d like to know who made it and the value before I shop it around to my dealers”

Here’s my response:

Based on the images of this sconce and looking at the design of this piece, I can see why you think it could be Art Deco or Scandinavian , but it postdates the 1940s. It’s in the style of examples by Tommi Parzinger and matches documented pieces designed by him. The marking you describe is a Dorlyn/Parzinger cypher mark used by Dorlyn brass, which made this piece to Tommi Parzinger’s design.

Tommi Anton Parzinger (1903-1981) was a German furniture designer and painter. Born in Munich, he moved to New York in 1932 and started his first company in 1939. By 1951, Parzinger was well on his way and had establish relationships with an assortment of manufacturers, including Hofstatter (furniture),Willow & Reed (rattan), Dorlyn (brass), Salterini (wrought iron) and Lightolier (lighting). In his later years, Parzinger concentrated on Expressionist painting, no longer working on design.

Parzinger’s last showroom, located on East 57th Street in Manhattan, was closed not long after his death in 1981.His designs are highly sought after today As far as we know, this piece has not be reproduced by other makers, but it would require a physical examination to verify the marking. As far as value goes, you instincts were spot-on. At auction, a matching piece to this sconce would sell in the $500- to $700-range.

Mike Wilcox, of Wilcox & Hall Appraisers, is a Worthologist who specializes in Art Nouveau and the Arts and Craft movement.

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