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Peder Pedersen or P.A. Pedersen?

- 10 Jan 2017 -
10 posts / 0 new

In the spirit of leif’s threads on the Case of the Two Hundevads and Case of the Two Fredericias, I thought I’d add a third thread here that discusses the Case of the Two Pedersens. . .

Last summer I posted a Mid Century Desk Quiz #2 thread which discussed an interesting secretary design. The Danish Furniture Index had credited it as designed by Ib Kofod-Larsen, and made by Peder Pedersen, based upon an ad in Mobilia 1956.

It seemed to be an odd attribution as the piece did not resemble other KL designs, and as the thread pointed out, besides the DFI, there was no other documented connection between KL and the cabinetmaker, Peder Pedersen. The DFI claimed to have four designs executed by the two.

Peder Pedersen or P.A. Pedersen?
shelving & storage
1950 - 1959


- 10 Jan 2017

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, and this same desk design pops up on local craigslist. During initial searches last summer, I could find no other examples, and now two pop in Chicago within the same year. The craigslist one did not have recessed handles like the summer auction one, and the pulls appeared to be replacements compared with the DFI photo. What caught my eye was a closeup photo of the dovetail joints, which indicated that they were handmade, not machine-made.

Since the asking price was reasonable*, I decided to do some more searching for info. After a little while, I was able to turn up two archived auction lots from Bruun-Rasmussen for this desk. The listings had enough photos to match up with the craigslist ad, except for the pulls which look conical-shaped, teak for one and rosewood for the other. One of the desks appears to have rosewood veneer for the drop face much like the DFI photo. BR attributed the desks to KL as the designer, like the DFI, but they cited Fredericia Stolefabrik as the manufacturer (side note: see leif’s Fredericia thread to see how BR has confused the two Fredericias).

Therefore before going to see the desk, I was operating under the assumption that there were two versions of this desk: a cabinetmaker version by Peder Pedersen, and a subsequent factory version by Fredericia. This formula was used often during the 1950’s, where architects would design a piece for a cabinetmaker, then modify it for larger-scale production by a factory.

As it turns out, both assumptions were wrong.

- 10 Jan 2017

This is where leif gets actively involved. While I previously said that the craigslist asking price was reasonable*, there wasn’t actually an asking price. Instead there was no asking price, and the seller was asking for people to submit their best price via e-mail for his own blind bid auction. He said he knew it was a nice desk (but no attribution) and offered some steep comp references to other secretary desks. So I figured it wasn’t going to go dirt cheap.

My strategy was to try to see the piece first before making an offer. This did not seem to sit well with the seller, as he started ignoring my follow-up e-mails. Finally tiring of my feet-dragging, leif contacted the seller long-distance directly and made an offer. Others were interested but leif and the seller quickly agreed on a price, with the seller wanting the piece picked up that evening.

Turns out leif’s negotiating was on my behalf (New Mexico is a bit of a long drive for an evening pickup) and the agreed-to price was in my original range. So I became leif ericson for an evening and went to go pick up the desk.

After getting the desk home, it needed to have some pieces of the base frame re-glued, so I unscrewed the based and took the following photos. The rails of the base frame are solid teak and their joints are mortise and tenon, no dowels in the piece. Even the hidden back face of the drawers are hand-cut dovetails. Besides some handwriting marks on the back, the only printed text anywhere was hidden on the top sides of the base framing: “Made in Denmark” printed on each rail.

- 10 Jan 2017

more photos, plus confirmation that the oak pulls were replacements. . .

- 10 Jan 2017

At this stage, I thought I had a Kofod-Larsen desk by Peder Pedersen. I sent a note to the DFI staff that night with a request if they could send me a copy of the Mobilia 1956 ad for my records. They were very prompt and helpful with a reply the next day that included the ad.

Sure enough, the desk was designed by Kofod-Larsen for P.A. Pedersen. Hmmmmm . . . . I didn’t recall ever seeing Peder Pedersen go by initials for his first name, so I Googled a little more.

After coming across a P.A. Pedersen coffee table listing on the Danish Modern UK site ( ) , I now had two vintage ads that showed a relationship between KL and P.A. Pedersen. However both ads noted P.A. Pedersen was based in Brande, Denmark. Peder Pedersen was based in Copenhagen.

Upon further examining, I also noticed that every printed label or letterhead by Peder Pedersen that I could find also incorporated the title “snedkermester”. Neither of P.A. Pedersen’s ads used this term. Therefore, my conclusion was that the Peder and P.A. were two different producers.

After sending off my findings to both DFI, they agreed with my conclusions and have now updated the index to have P.A. Pedersen as the producer in the (now) five listings.

I also sent a note off to BR to check out the Fredericia leads. Perhaps those pieces were marked or they had a catalog. BR also replied promptly and admitted now that their prior auction listings were incorrect. They agree that their desks were also most likely made by P.A. Pedersen as well.

- 10 Jan 2017

Next step: Who was P.A. Pedersen?

This is where leif takes the baton once again. Demonstrating research strategies that put me to shame, he quickly came across the following websites that start to paint a pretty clear picture of P.A.

1) Adding Brande to his searches turned up some P.A. Pedersen ads in a local Brande Christmas publication. He placed similar ads here almost every year during this era. While no pieces were included in the ad, it did include the address of the shop:

Storegade 68, Brande (pg 34)

2) A brilliant next step was to Google map the address, then do a street view. Could you ask for a better result than this? Not only is the building still there, but it still has “Snedkerhuset” and “Anno-1914” written on the side of the building.,9.1303951,3a,75y,219.78h,89.92t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sBNeOoUT0YXCUf8REWB74zQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0xaae6cb9bdedcbc82!6m1!1e1

3) A subsequent search of the address turned up this site, which confirms that the building was built in 1914 by Anton Vilhelm Pedersen, who had a “snedkervӕrksted” and furniture store.

4) If that wasn’t enough, a geneology search for Anton Vilhelm found that he had a son named Peder Anton . . .(P.A.)

If there was any doubt before, this effort confirms that leif is the master.

- 10 Jan 2017

As a side note, I had always translated the term “snedkermester” as cabinetmaker without much thought. However, when coming across the other snedker terms on this topic, I realized that the real translation should be “master cabinetmaker”.

Google Translate gives the following (perhaps someone can correct if a translation is wrong):

snedker = joiner
snedkerhuset = joiner house
snedkervӕrksted = carpentry workshop

So it could be said that a snedker, ran a snedkervӕrksted, and worked in a snedkerhuset

While I have not read any specific text on this subject, I believe that the snedkermesters were the recognized elite few in the cabinetmakers guild, with the majority of the guild membership made up of snedker and apprentices. This is generally how the guild systems were set up for craftsmen.

Presumably there was some sort of threshold (quality, speed, etc) that allowed a snedker to move up to the level of snedkermester. I read some commentary where it was stated that the head of a snedkervӕrksted would call himself the snedkermester. However the vintage documentation that I've come across indicates that the term is limited to the elite of the guild.

And once you became a snedkermester, you made sure to include it on all of your printed material as a sign of your status level. One assumes that this status level also allowed the snedkermester to charge higher prices, and have a higher say in the workings of the guild.

- 10 Jan 2017

So who was P.A. Pedersen?

Based on all of the above, my conclusions are that Peder Anton Pedersen was a snedker in Brande, who inherited the snedkerhuset and snedkervӕrksted from his snedker father, Anton Wilhelm Pedersen.

What makes this desk fairly odd, is that almost all pieces with famous designers that I’ve come across were either made by snedkermesters or furniture factories. For some reason Kofod-Larsen decided to work with a regular snedker for a few handmade pieces during the 1950’s.

Kofod-Larsen did do a few designs for Brande Mobelfabrik during the mid 1950’s, which may have been part of the story of how he came to work with P.A. Pedersen in the same town.

So while I can no longer claim that my new secretary desk was made by the snedkermester, Peder Pedersen, I am pleased to know that is was still hand made by a snedker. I'll post pictures once it's all cleaned up.

Special thanks to leif for his efforts in acquisition and research.

- 10 Jan 2017

Oh, and on a slight tangent note, while doing the research for this desk, I happened to ID a coffee table that had been listed for a while without being sold. It just so happens that this coffee table is designed by Kofod-Larsen, and made by none other than P.A. Pedersen. It is the same table that is shown in the ad on the Danish Modern UK site.

It is still in transit and should arrive in a couple of weeks.

- 11 Jan 2017

Nice write up. Yet another mystery of conflated identities has been cleared up.

I kind of like how Bruun-Rasmussen made a double error in those listings: they knew that Kofod Larsen designed for "Fredericia" and so they decided to give maker credit to "Fredericia" for the secretary, but they did not realize that there were two "Fredericias" and so when they got around to putting the full name in the listing they put in "Fredericia Stolefabrik." Double error.

I do wonder if there is some connection between Kofod Larsen and the town of Brande...?

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