Gerald Summers’ 1933-34 plywood armchair – £10,000 at Mallams.

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This second example of the English modernist’s best-known design was offered at Mallams (25% buyer’s premium) in Oxford on December 7-8 with a guide of £8000-12,000.

Summers’ ingenious vision for the BPAC (Bent Plywood Armchair) was to construct a chair that would require no joints, dispense of any fixings, and create very little waste.

Having worked as an apprentice within the aviation industry, he had seen the benefits of birch plywood that could be versatile, strong and cheap but also avant garde. It required only simple incisions and mould bending. Around 120 were made, sold from Summers’ London shop, Makers of Simple Furniture, plus select department stores such as Heal’s and Harrods and Pembertons in New York.

Price factors

Other examples of the chair have appeared for sale in London in recent years – selling for between £10,000-25,000 depending on condition and provenance.

The example at L&T, for instance, had been purchased new by the Oxford artist Juliette May Lucille Edwards (1909-2011) and acquired by the vendor from her estate in 2011.

The example at the Modern Art and Design Sale in Oxford was in good period condition with some chipping to the plywood mainly visible only on the underside. It made its mid estimate, selling at £10,000 to a bidder on