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Now he has decided to sell his collection, some 230 pieces, which is being auctioned by Van Ham in Cologne on January 22.

Michael Thonet founded his company in the German city of Boppard in 1830. It moved to Vienna in 1842. Thonet developed the first means of industrial-scale production of bentwood furniture and the firm remains in business today.

The auction chiefly focuses on Thonet’s work but also includes some items by his competitors and ranges from mid-19th century pieces, including the exceedingly rare chair Model Nr. 3 estimated at €6500-7500, up to furniture from the 1960s such as a pair of chairs designed by Verner Panton, guided at €2200-2600.

Among the more extravagant pieces are a so-called rocking sofa from before 1879, estimated at €6800, and a complex dressing mirror from c.1900 guided at €5200-5800.