I’ve had a few exciting finds lately including a Florence Knoll Model 65 lounge chair (that I pulled out of the garbage) and a Dieter Rams/Hans Gugelot Braun radio/phonograph console in a spectacular teak case designed by Herbert Hirche. I will be photographing these items this weekend and be posting shortly.
In the mean time, I thought I’d telll you the Story about my Austin Enterprises chess set and show you the nifty Austin Enterprises “Hang Up Sculpture” I got this weekend. For those of you unfamiliar with Austin Cox and his fantastic anodized aluminum chess set, here are a few images.
Austin Enterprises- Chess Pieces
Box with Cover Removed
The set was commissioned in 1962 by ALCOA to designer-craftsman Austin E. Cox A.S.I.D. of “Austin Enterprises” and the advertising agency of Ketchum, McLeod & Grove. The pieces are modern in form-the Queen represented by a crown, the bishop is a cross, the knight is a shield and the King, is fittingly, the symbol of ALCOA.
Last summer, I stumbled on one of these sets in its original wood and blue plexiglas hanging display case on Craigslist for $40. I was excited, but there were a couple of issues that had me concerned. First off, the set was in Roslyn, which is a 40-minute drive from NYC. Second, instead of using the traditional dollar bill or Campbells soup can to show scale, the seller used a handgun….a GLOCK no less. I KID YOU, NOT!
Well, for a $40 Austin Enterprises chess set, I am willing to assume certain risks. A scary sounding, gun-owning seller, is one of them. I drove with my wife and two small daughters to the house, parked around the corner and told my wife if I wasn’t back in 20 minutes to call the police. Fortunately, I was put a ease when I was greeted at the door by a nice looking older man. His son’s Bar-Mitvah picture hanging in the hallway was a reassuring sign.
Alas, my wife didn’t have a need to call the police and I walked away with a chess set I had been wanting for a long time. This weekend at the yard sales, I scored a very interesting Austin Enterprises “Hang Up Sculptural Puzzle”. This immediately reminded me of the chess set/GLOCK story.
Austin Enterprises- Sculptural Puzzle
It is also crafted of anodized aluminum. This time, in blue and orange and it comes in a wood hanging case.
Blue and Orange Anodized Pieces
According to the text on the back of the box, “the challenge is to arrange the twenty five triangles to form a perfect square”. Apparently, it is rarer than the chess sets and even better, “the solution dates back to the Pythagorean Theorem” Looks like I have a little puzzle to solve in the near future.