As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Salterini patio furniture is known for its timeless design, durability, and craftsmanship. Whether you’ve inherited a set from a family member, stumbled upon a vintage piece at a flea market, or are simply curious about the patio furniture you already own, learning how to identify Salterini furniture can be a rewarding and informative endeavor. With a rich history dating back to the mid-20th century, Salterini pieces often feature distinctive characteristics that make them stand out in the world of outdoor furniture. In this guide, we will walk you through the key elements and tips to help you confidently recognize and appreciate Salterini patio furniture, enabling you to better assess its value and historical significance. Whether you’re a collector, a homeowner looking to restore or sell these vintage treasures, or simply a furniture enthusiast, understanding the unique attributes of Salterini pieces can enhance your appreciation for this iconic brand. Let’s begin the journey of identifying Salterini patio furniture and unraveling its fascinating heritage.
History of Salterini as a Company:
Salterini refers to the Salterini Iron Works, a company that played a significant role in the production of wrought iron furniture, especially during the mid-20th century. Here is a brief history:
- Founding and Early Years: The Salterini Iron Works was founded in New York City in 1932 by Italian immigrant, John Salterini. Initially, the company produced a range of wrought iron products, including gates and other architectural elements.
- Focus on Outdoor Furniture: In the 1930s, Salterini began to concentrate on manufacturing outdoor furniture. This shift in focus was driven by the growing popularity of outdoor living spaces and the demand for stylish and durable wrought iron furniture.
- Innovative Designs: Salterini was known for its innovative and elegant designs. Their furniture featured intricate ironwork, scrollwork, and decorative motifs, making it highly desirable for both residential and commercial use.
- Expansion and Success: Throughout the mid-20th century, Salterini expanded its product line and gained a reputation for high-quality craftsmanship. Their pieces became fixtures in gardens, patios, and outdoor spaces across the United States and beyond.
- Changing Ownership: In the 1950s, the company was sold to Morris B. Finkelstein, who continued to produce Salterini-style furniture under the name “Molla.” This furniture retained the same style and quality as the original Salterini pieces.
- Decline and Closure: Unfortunately, like many mid-century furniture manufacturers, Salterini faced challenges in the late 20th century due to changing consumer preferences and market dynamics. The company eventually closed its doors.
Significance of Salterini in the World of Vintage Outdoor Furniture:
Salterini holds significant importance in the world of vintage outdoor furniture for several reasons:
- Design Legacy: Salterini’s designs are celebrated for their timeless elegance and intricate craftsmanship. Many of their pieces have become iconic examples of mid-century outdoor furniture.
- Collectibility: Vintage Salterini pieces are highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts. Their rarity and enduring style contribute to their value.
- Influence: Salterini’s designs have influenced the broader market for outdoor furniture. Many contemporary outdoor furniture pieces draw inspiration from Salterini’s mid-century designs.
Evolution of Salterini Designs Over Time:
Salterini’s designs evolved over the years, reflecting changing design trends and consumer preferences. Some key points in the evolution of Salterini designs include:
- 1930s-1940s: Early Salterini pieces often featured ornate, Art Deco-inspired designs with intricate scrollwork and decorative details.
- 1950s-1960s: During this period, Salterini embraced more streamlined and modern designs, influenced by the Mid-Century Modern movement. Sling and mesh seating options became popular.
- Late 1960s and Beyond: As the 1960s transitioned into the 1970s, Salterini introduced more casual and relaxed designs, often incorporating materials like wicker and cushioned seating.
- Variety of Styles: Throughout its history, Salterini produced a wide range of styles, from traditional and Mediterranean-inspired pieces to sleek and minimalist designs.
In summary, Salterini’s history as a company, its significance in the world of vintage outdoor furniture, and the evolution of its designs over time all contribute to its enduring legacy in the realm of outdoor furniture and design.
Materials Used in Salterini Furniture:
Salterini furniture is primarily known for its use of durable materials, with wrought iron being the most iconic. However, aluminum was also used in some designs.
- Wrought Iron: Wrought iron was the primary material used in the majority of Salterini’s outdoor furniture. This material is known for its strength, malleability, and ability to be crafted into intricate designs. It was often used for frames, legs, and decorative elements.
- Aluminum: In addition to wrought iron, Salterini also experimented with aluminum in some of its designs. Aluminum offered the advantage of being lightweight and resistant to rust, making it a practical choice for outdoor furniture.
Distinctive Design Elements:
Salterini’s furniture is characterized by several distinctive design elements:
- Intricate Wrought Iron Patterns: Salterini’s hallmark is its intricate wrought iron work. This included elaborate scrollwork, lattice patterns, and decorative motifs that were often hand-forged. These patterns added a sense of elegance and sophistication to their designs.
- Curved and Flowing Lines: Salterini’s designs often featured gracefully curved and flowing lines. These organic shapes created a sense of movement and visual appeal, making their furniture stand out.
- Unique Motifs and Details: Salterini paid attention to the smallest details, including the incorporation of unique motifs such as leaves, flowers, and animal figures. These details added personality and charm to their pieces.
Finish and Patina:
The finish and patina of Salterini furniture played a significant role in its overall appeal and aging process.
- Common Finishes: Salterini furniture typically featured a range of finishes, including:
- Painted Finishes: Many pieces were painted in vibrant colors to enhance their visual appeal. Common colors included white, black, green, and turquoise. These finishes helped protect the wrought iron from rust.
- Powder Coating: Some later pieces featured powder-coated finishes, which provided durability and resistance to the elements.
- Natural Rust Patina: Some Salterini pieces were left untreated to develop a natural rust patina over time. This was appreciated for its rustic charm.
- How Patina Develops Over Time: The development of patina on Salterini furniture depends on factors like exposure to the elements and maintenance. Over time, painted finishes might chip or weather, revealing the underlying iron. Untreated pieces would develop a rust patina, which some collectors find desirable as it adds character and history to the furniture.
In summary, Salterini furniture is known for its use of materials like wrought iron and aluminum, distinctive design elements that include intricate patterns and curved lines, and the development of finishes and patina over time, which contribute to its unique charm and appeal in the world of vintage outdoor furniture.
Styles and Models
Overview of Popular Salterini Styles:
- Characteristics: The Clamshell style, as the name suggests, features seating or table surfaces with a shape reminiscent of clamshells or scallop shells. The seats often have curved, shell-like backs.
- Unique Features: Look for the distinctive shell-shaped backrests and the intricate wrought iron detailing, which may include scrolls and floral motifs.
- Characteristics: The Radar style is known for its circular or elliptical tables and seating. These pieces often have a futuristic or atomic-age aesthetic, with radiating lines.
- Unique Features: Look for the circular or elliptical table tops and the radial patterns on the seating. The tables may have a central umbrella hole.
Lily Pad Style:
- Characteristics: The Lily Pad style draws inspiration from the natural world, with table and chair designs resembling lily pads or water lilies. These pieces often have a delicate and organic appearance.
- Unique Features: Pay attention to the lily pad-shaped table tops and the use of curved lines and floral details in the design. Some Lily Pad pieces have glass tops.
- Characteristics: The Ribbon style is characterized by its use of ribbon-like or ribbon-shaped wrought iron elements. This style often features flowing, graceful lines.
- Unique Features: Look for the ribbon-like ironwork on the arms and backs of chairs. The designs may also incorporate swirled or twisted elements that resemble ribbons.
Characteristics of Each Style:
- Clamshell: Look for shell-shaped backs and intricate wrought iron detailing.
- Radar: Identify circular or elliptical tables with radial patterns.
- Lily Pad: Recognize lily pad-shaped table tops and organic, floral-inspired design elements.
- Ribbon: Notice the ribbon-like ironwork on arms and backs, along with swirled or twisted elements.
Unique Features to Look For in Different Models:
- Clamshell: Check for the presence of scallop shell-shaped backrests with ornate details like scrolls and flowers.
- Radar: Look for circular or elliptical table tops with radiating lines and, on some models, a central umbrella hole.
- Lily Pad: Identify lily pad-shaped table tops and the use of flowing, organic lines along with floral motifs.
- Ribbon: Pay attention to the ribbon-like ironwork, which can be found on armrests and chair backs, and the incorporation of swirled or twisted elements.
When identifying specific Salterini models, it’s essential to closely examine the design elements and compare them to known examples of each style. Additionally, consider factors like the finish and patina, as these can vary and provide further clues about the age and authenticity of the piece.
Marks and Labels
Marks and labels on Salterini furniture can provide valuable information about the manufacturer and help in identifying authentic pieces. Here’s what you need to know:
Salterini Manufacturer’s Marks:
Salterini furniture typically doesn’t have prominent manufacturer’s marks or logos. Instead, identification is often based on the distinctive design elements and style characteristic of Salterini pieces. However, in some cases, you may find a small stamped or cast mark, such as “Salterini” or “Molla,” on the underside of the furniture. Keep in mind that the presence of such marks can vary, and not all Salterini pieces are marked.
Labels or Tags:
Salterini furniture from the mid-20th century may sometimes have labels or tags that provide information about the manufacturer. These labels or tags are relatively rare but can be found on certain pieces, particularly those produced during the period when Salterini was sold to Morris B. Finkelstein and marketed under the name “Molla.” Look for labels that say “Molla” or “Molla Furniture Corp.” These labels are more common on pieces from the 1950s and 1960s.
Where to Find Marks and Labels on the Furniture:
To locate marks or labels on Salterini furniture, you should carefully inspect the piece, paying attention to the following areas:
- Underside: Flip the furniture upside down or on its side to examine the underside. This is the most common location for any marks or labels. Use a flashlight or a mirror if necessary to see obscured areas.
- Frame and Support Structures: Check the framework and support structures of chairs, tables, or benches. Sometimes, marks can be located on structural components.
- Seat or Tabletop Edges: Inspect the edges of seats or tabletops, as marks may be concealed along the edges.
- Backrests or Armrests: In the case of chairs or benches, examine the backrests or armrests for any embedded or stamped marks.
- Hardware: Occasionally, marks or tags may be found on hardware components like bolts or brackets.
- Beneath Cushions: If the furniture has cushions, lift them to see if there are any hidden marks or tags on the frame beneath.
Remember that not all Salterini pieces will have marks or labels, and identifying them based on design elements and style is often the most reliable method. Additionally, the absence of marks does not necessarily indicate that a piece is not genuine; it could simply be an unmarked Salterini item. When in doubt, consulting experts or experienced collectors can be helpful in confirming the authenticity of Salterini furniture.
Authenticating Salterini furniture can be challenging due to the lack of prominent manufacturer’s marks and the presence of replicas and imitations in the market. Here are some tips to help you distinguish genuine Salterini pieces from replicas or imitations:
How to Distinguish Genuine Salterini from Replicas or Imitations:
- Study Design Elements: Familiarize yourself with the distinctive design elements of Salterini furniture, such as intricate wrought iron work, unique motifs, and characteristic styles like Clamshell, Radar, Lily Pad, and Ribbon. Genuine Salterini pieces will exhibit these design features authentically.
- Inspect Craftsmanship: Genuine Salterini furniture is known for its high-quality craftsmanship. Look for evidence of hand-forged wrought iron, attention to detail, and overall workmanship. Poor quality or mass-produced imitations may lack the same level of craftsmanship.
- Consider Materials: Salterini primarily used wrought iron and, in some cases, aluminum. Be wary of pieces made from inferior materials or materials not typical of Salterini’s production.
- Age and Patina: Authentic vintage Salterini furniture may exhibit signs of age and use, including natural rust patina, wear on painted finishes, and weathering. Replicas may lack these signs or try to replicate them artificially.
- Lack of Prominent Marks: Genuine Salterini pieces often do not have prominent manufacturer’s marks. If a piece is heavily marked or bears a prominent logo, it may be a replica or imitation.
Common Signs of Authenticity:
- Provenance: If possible, trace the history of the piece through documentation, previous owners, or estate sales. Pieces with a well-documented provenance are more likely to be authentic.
- Design Consistency: Genuine Salterini pieces are consistent with the known styles and designs produced by the company. Ensure that the design matches the characteristics of a particular Salterini style.
- Materials and Construction: Authentic Salterini furniture is made from high-quality materials like wrought iron or aluminum, and the construction should reflect superior craftsmanship.
- Patina and Wear: Authentic vintage pieces often exhibit signs of natural aging, including a genuine rust patina, paint wear, and weathering that corresponds with their age.
Reference Materials and Resources for Authentication:
- Books and Collector’s Guides: There are several books and collector’s guides dedicated to vintage outdoor furniture, including Salterini pieces. These resources often provide detailed information, photographs, and tips for identifying authentic pieces.
- Online Forums and Communities: Join online forums and communities of vintage furniture collectors and enthusiasts. These platforms can be valuable for seeking advice, sharing photos, and asking for authentication assistance from experienced collectors.
- Antique Dealers and Appraisers: Consult with antique dealers or professional appraisers who specialize in vintage outdoor furniture. They can offer expert guidance and authentication services.
- Museum Exhibits: Visit museums or exhibitions that feature vintage outdoor furniture, including Salterini pieces. Museums often provide historical context and information about authentic pieces.
- Auction Houses: Auction houses may have authentic Salterini pieces in their catalogs. Reviewing their listings and attending auctions can help you learn more about genuine items and their characteristics.
Remember that authentication can sometimes be a nuanced process, and when in doubt, seeking the opinion of experts or experienced collectors can be invaluable in confirming the authenticity of Salterini furniture.
The journey to identify Salterini patio furniture is a captivating exploration of history, craftsmanship, and timeless design. As you’ve learned in this guide, Salterini pieces are more than just outdoor furniture; they are pieces of art that reflect an era of elegance and sophistication.
Understanding the key characteristics, historical context, and distinctive styles of Salterini furniture empowers you to appreciate and preserve these treasures. Whether you’re an avid collector, a vintage furniture enthusiast, or simply the proud owner of a Salterini piece, the knowledge you’ve gained here will deepen your connection to these iconic outdoor furnishings.
Remember to pay attention to materials, design elements, and authentication markers when identifying Salterini furniture. By doing so, you can confidently distinguish genuine pieces from imitations and replicas, ensuring the value and authenticity of your collection.
As you embark on your journey to identify Salterini patio furniture, take the time to cherish these masterpieces of design and craftsmanship. Whether you enjoy them for their aesthetic beauty or as valuable investments, Salterini pieces continue to stand the test of time, bringing elegance and character to outdoor spaces for generations to come. Happy hunting, and may your appreciation for Salterini furniture grow with each discovery.
Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc, or its affiliates.