Photo of USTDC courtesy of Les Duffin

Monday, May 10, 2010

Taiwan Furniture

Many of us purchased locally made furniture when we were in Taiwan.  A couple of years ago, I wrote about the coffee table and end table set I bought during 1974.  I can't recall the name of the shop, but I know it was within easy walking distance of the compound.  As I wrote earlier, I started looking at these shortly after my arrival in 1973 and finally bought this set a few weeks before my departure.

When we decided to downsize about four years ago, one of our daughters asked for the set, which she and her husband hauled up to their Minnesota home.  We drove up to the Frozen North a few days ago for a visit and I took a couple of pictures to post here.

This is an example of what was called an "APO set" because the coffee table could be disassembled into three sections and mailed through the post office back to the States.  The set is made of teak and camphor woods with marble set into the tops and solid brass pulls on all doors.  It is quite heavy and I tried to avoid moving it around the house as much as possible.  After several household moves and exposure to numerous kids and grandkids, it has a few small nicks and scratches, but it still looks almost as good as the day it was delivered.

I don't have any idea what a similar set would cost today -- if you could find one -- but I think I paid about $120 for it in 1974.  That was still a princely sum in those days, but very reasonable for something of this quality.


Harvey said...

During the summer months of '75, dependents such as I were given the opportunity to work at different commands for twenty hours at $1 an hour. I got the APO.

I remember loading those boxes of furniture onto a container in the sweltering heat. I remember too that the base newsletter printed a complaint about "none military types" seen loading boxes roughly. I might've been one of the guys observed. If so, I'm sorry.

The boxes were well packed by the store with thick cardboard and packing straps.

Misty said...

We have some furniture that would match the unit in the bottom picture very nicely. I think it must have been a recognised style back then.

Sarj said...

This post reminded me of my plans to have some furniture made. I drew up detailed plans for a coffee table and an end table made from teak wood. I was discussing this with some of the guys and was advised not to do it because when I took it back to the states it would crack because of the lower humidity. I went ahead and bought the standard rattan stuff. A sofa two chairs and a bar with stools and a lamp for over the bar. I took this back to the states and it served me for a long time..until I had trouble trying to get up from the very low seats. I'll have to send photos to you.

Don said...

(Sorry I had a date wrong in the above [deleted] comment.)

Sarj, you're right about the drying out part. I only had the set in my room at the hostel for a few days before shipping it back to the States. I was told to put a heavy coat of lemon oil on the wood and let it set for at least a day or so and then use nothing but lemon oil on it after I left Taiwan. There are few small areas on it that chipped off, especially on the inlaid wood in the center part of the coffee table, but otherwise it has held up remarkably well for the past thirty-six years.

When I visited Taipei for a few days from Okinawa in 1963, I bought a very nice carved wooden chess set. Some of the pieces started cracking within a year or so and the case eventually fell apart because it dried out.

老屋傳奇 said...

I found two pieces simmilar at my mother inlaws house,
I believe she bought them around 1973, they are made of solid wood amd Taiwan marble.