Saturday, June 4, 2016

Vintage Finds: c.1950 James Mont Chinoiserie Limed Oak Hutch

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Hello vintage lovers and collectors! Have you ever dreamt of owning a certain piece of furniture, in a distinct style from a particular era, and wondered if you would ever find it? That's been me, for the past twenty years. When I first started getting serious about collecting vintage, I saw an ad in a 1950s magazine that featured a blonde finish dining room suite, and all of the matching pieces had beautiful Asian decorative elements. I was immediately drawn in and knew that this was my dream furniture.

Last week as I was poking around in one of the charity shops downtown, I saw a gem of a hutch tucked sideways in amongst several pieces of run of the mill, nondescript furniture. I walked over to it to get a closer look, and for a moment I stood there awestruck, not believing what I was seeing! I ran my hands over the wood, felt the finish, looked closely at the construction, all in an effort to determine the quality and condition of this unique piece of furniture. My conclusion was that it was well constructed and just needed a bit of elbow grease. What sweetened the deal for me was that it was on a half price sale! 

I was tempted to buy the hutch on the spot. Instead, I brought the story of my discovery home to James and the next day we went to take a good hard look at it and make the decision together. We weighed the pros and cons of this purchase:

  • It has 'good bones'
  • There is no major damage to the wood
  • The decorative appliques on the bottom doors are perfectly intact
  • The doors function perfectly

  • The sliding glass doors on the upper shelf section are missing
  • There are no labels, tags or identifying marks of any kind
  • The top of the enclosed cabinet section has glue residue and several mystery screw holes and it is not clear what these were for 
  • It was pretty darn grungy!

James agreed with my initial impression that this hutch was indeed a well-crafted piece of furniture that just needed some loving care. I gladly paid $87.50 and made the arrangements to come back the next day to pick it up, which was the Saturday of the Memorial Day weekend. 

I happily spent the next couple of days gently wiping away over six decades of accumulated dirt with a sponge dipped in a mild wood cleaning soap solution, followed by furniture polish applied with a soft cloth. By Monday afternoon, the cleaning process was done and I took the above photo, and since then I've been working on styling the shelves, so stayed tuned for the month of June's Styling The Seasons! 

It took several Google searches before I finally found a very similar, almost exact duplicate piece in their image database. According to the internet, this is a Limed Oak Chinoiserie Hutch by James Mont - a notoriously infamous East Coast furniture designer, decorator, and underworld figure who was active from the 1930s to the 1960s. Not only did I find an image of this same piece, but I also discovered that the hutch came in two sizes, of which mine is the smaller one, and were part of a collection that also included a credenza and matching table and chairs. The more I looked at the images I found on the internet, the more I think that this was the same dining set that I saw in that 1950s magazine oh so long ago! After studying the photo of the original, it became obvious that there was a short base piece between the upper shelf and lower cabinet portions of the hutch, missing from my new old find - hence, the glue residue and screw holes in the top of the lower piece. 

Overall, I'm very happy with this hutch - it's not perfect, but I love it! Now, how about some new wallpaper on the wall behind it?



  1. What a perfect find, June! I can totally imagine you standing in awe, finding the piece you were looking for all these years. It was meant to be! I can't wait for more pictures.

  2. Hi June,

    I am so excited to find this post. I believe I have the matching dining table and chairs. That is the exact Asian carving on my table legs. I haven't been able to find any identifying marks to know who made the table. Unfortunately I had a massive water line break that flooded my house for 7 days and the table and chairs took damage. I now have a starting point to look for references online with the James Mont name so I can make a detailed listing for the insurance.

    Thank you again for posting this information.


  3. Robin, I think the table and chairs you speak of are the same as mine. It is James Mont Style by Thomasville.

  4. Definitely: I have the same diner set with three central extension pieces, in limed oak - though mahogany was used as an alternative. The sales label attached to the underside of our table reveals that the set was made by the "Thomasville Chair Company" and first sold in a Seattle department store. Experts seem to think this particular iteration of the Mont style dates to about 1950, which may be true. But here's the thing: didn't Thomasville change its name to the "Thomasville Furniture Company" in the mid-30s, to mark its expanded field of operations? Also, out of interest, does anyone know whether Mont actually designed the range, or did the Thomasville furniture designers simply lift his style cues?

  5. I have this hutch. Originally, I had the sliding glass doors on the upper part. One broke, and some old friend grabbed the remaining glass. I love the piece, too. I'm going to use it in a baby nursery for books & curiosities.


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