Collectibles-General (Antiques)/telephone chair


telephone table?
telephone table?  
chair back
chair back  
QUESTION: what kind of table/chair is this I have a tag on the bottom that says Lexington chair company

ANSWER: Mary - Your combination chair and table is called a "gossip bench." They came along in the mid 1920s when telephones started to make their way off the walls of general stores into American households. But the phones of the period were big, heavy, black and ugly and they just did not fit anywhere in the "modern" house. The gossip bench solved that problem providing a place for the phone, a place for the caller and usually a place, a shelf or drawer, for the phone book. Some versions of the gossip bench are downright clever and inventive. Value of course depends on both style and condition. The overall style of your bench is a Colonial Revival of Federal era style of the early 1800s. Your set was made in the late 1940s. The carving on the crest rail of the chair is meant to resemble the carvings on chairs of the Rococo Revival of the mid 19th century. The Rococo Revival style was meant to recreate the lavish style of the 18th century French court.  

The Lexington Chair Co was located in Lexington, NC.

While the set is supposed to look like mahogany it appears to be almost entirely made of secondary wood.

Sets like yours sell at auction in the $35-$50 range.

Thanks for writing.

Fred Taylor

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: If I had the gossip bench restored properly would it increase the value or decrease it, because its not in the original form.

Mary - The rule of thumb in most 20th century furniture is that well done repair, refinish and restoration will improve both the appearance and current market value. However, there is an upper limit to that style gossip bench, no matter the condition. Even professionally restored it probably would not exceed $100.

Fred Taylor  

Collectibles-General (Antiques)

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Fred Taylor


I will attempt to answer questions about American antique furniture, including construction details, style, period, manufacturers, care, repair and storage. I do not have any background in appliances, musical instruments, sewing machines, trunks, lighting, clocks or children's and baby furniture and will not respond to questions about those items.


I ran an antique furniture restoration business for twenty years. I am a nationally syndicated columnist on the subject of antique furniture for such publications as Antique Week and New England Antiques Journal. I have produced one video on the subject of furniture identification and my book "HOW TO BE A FURNITURE DETECTIVE" is now available.I have also published articles in Antique Trader, Chicago Art Deco Society, Northeast Magazine, Victorian Decorating and Lifestyles, Professional Refinishing, Antiques and Art Around Florida and Antique Shoppe. You can visit my website at

BSBA Finance, University of Florida, MBA Finance, University of Florida

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