mid century modern drawers

What is Midcentury Modern? How Can You Tell? Why is It Popular?

“Midcentury modern” is a hot buzzword. So-called midcentury furniture and design are everywhere--on TV show sets, in fashion and hip restaurants. But what does midcentury modern really means?

The word is used very loosely to describe furniture, architecture and graphic design from approximately 1933 to 1957 (experts disagree on the exact years). The time period refers to the larger modernist movement, which had its origins in the Industrial Revolution, and later the period after WWI.

The Book that Sold America on the Style

The term was actually invented by author Cara Greenberg, for her 1984 book, Midcentury Modern: Furniture of the 1950s.

Greenberg’s book sold over 100,000 copies, and was said to capture the “verve, imagination and zaniness of the period” by The New York Times. The popularity of midcentury modern design that lingers today began with Greenberg’s book; most of the 1950s styles were out of fashion by the late 1960s.

Several events catapulted midcentury modern’s appeal beyond a small group of design fans to the mainstream in the mid-1990s:

  • Collectors drove up prices by orders of magnitude beyond the original value of items such as plywood folding screens, marshmallow sofas and pretzel armchairs.
  • While some midcentury furniture manufacturers were still in business, most had gone out of production by 1990. Even getting something still in production would have required an architect or designer to help you before 1992. But that changed in 1993 with the opening of a Knoll retail showroom in SoHo. Because of a decline in the office furniture market (more people were working at home), the company stopped giving architects and designers a 40% discount—selling their designs at trade prices to anyone who came into the store.

The showroom was a huge success, leading Knoll to convert other contract showrooms into consumer-oriented shops. As time went on, more and more pieces became available to average homeowners.

  • At the same time, many “iconic” midcentury designs were reissued by the likes of Herman Miller. The company reissued pieces from its archives. The new pieces stayed true to the original designs, with updated elements such as current fabric and material technologies. Customers welcomed the furniture, because other midcentury modern offerings were often low-quality knock-offs.

Herman Miller took a chance and launched a webstore in 1998. The rest is history: from that year, Herman Miller midcentury modern has been in high demand.

  • The sale of such reproductions got another boost in 1999 when Californian Rob Forbes launched Design Within Reach (DWR), a direct-mail catalog and online business. DWR gave consumers direct access to midcentury modern pieces that were once only available to the trade, and gave the masses a design education. Every piece of furniture was shown with a biography of the product's designer.

Midcentury Today

Mass-produced pieces made in the ’50s still get amazing prices, even items made from inexpensive materials such as fiberglass and plywood.

But you have to be careful shopping for midcentury modern. Stores and websites carry both genuine items, and items that are of no design significance.

The market for midcentury pieces with documentation has exploded in the last 15 years. That phenomena started in 2005, when a Carlo Mollino table sold for $3.9 million at auction.

The media has helped keep midcentury modern in vogue. Magazines Wallpaper and Dwell, launched in 1996 and 2000 respectively, supported the look. Even House Beautiful has gotten in on the act with special sections.

Shopping Midcentury at Legacies

The volunteer salespeople at Legacies are well-informed about the value of our midcentury pieces and can steer you toward the style and price range right for your home.

fine china

Identifying Your China Maker, Pattern and Value

If you have acquired heirloom china or glassware, you are probably wondering the name of the manufacturer and the pattern name—along with whether your possessions are of particular value.

Here are some clues:

The Type

There are three main kinds of porcelain, which we Westerners call “china.” Knowing the production process used to make your pieces will narrow down your pattern and its vintage:

  1. Bone china was first made in England in the mid-18th The process involves adding bone ash to finely-ground stone and clay. The tea sets, vases and dinnerware made from this process are delicate and thin.
  1. Hard-paste porcelain– This type of “china” was actually originally actually made in China. It included ground alabaster and kaolin, a clay mineral including silicate and alumina. Hard-paste porcelains made today may include quartz as well. Germans started making tableware items from this material in the early 1700s.
  1. Soft-paste porcelain– Later, Europeans used a softer clay, often from the Limoges region of France in the southeast. 

Translucency, Color and Sound

If you can see light coming through the piece when you hold it up, it is probably bone china. Bone china is often more ivory-colored than white. White china is usually hard- or soft-paste porcelain. Tap the edge of your piece with a coin. If it makes a high-pitched sound, it is probably hard-paste.

The Backstamp

What we consider “fine” china usually has a mark on the back identifying the manufacturer. If there are two marks, one may be the manufacturer and the other the painter/glazer. Backstamps provide a clue as to the date of china, because historically, manufacturers changed stamps frequently. Using a magnifying glass, you can see the writing on the mark. Or use your phone to take a picture and enlarge it on your computer.

There are websites that can help you learn more about your china once you have the backstamp.

  • Kovels has an extensive library of backstamps. Search by mark shape, initials or full names on the stamp.
  • Gotheborg has photos of marks and details about the manufacturers.

Very early bone china piece may not have a backstamp. If yours does not, a  professional appraiser can help identify the pattern and estimate its value.


Looking at the following details can also help narrow down the pattern, once you have determined the manufacturer:

  • Gold or gilt edging
  • Colors of the dishes themselves or paint on the dishes
  • Images like flowers, Asian motifs, people, birds or animals

Go Online

Once you have all of the above information, websites can help establish the name of your pattern.

Try these sites: Replacements.com for all manufacturers and National Shelley China Club, Meissen China Patterns, Robbin’s Nest Noritake Directory, The Spode Collection or Haviland Online for specific manufacturers.

How Old is It?

Some patterns have been in constant production for decades or centuries. The backstamp can help you figure out when and where the piece was produced. Use the backstamp sites given above to compare yours to the stamps used by the manufacturer at different times.

How Popular is It?

Certain china patterns stand the test of time and have remained popular with collectors for centuries. These are some of the most desired patterns:

  • Spode’s Blue Italian
  • Meissen’s Ming Dragon
  • Royal Copenhagen’s Flora Danica
  • Deruta’s Raffaellesco

Finding China of Beauty and Value at Legacies

It’s fun to shop for china at Legacies Upscale Resale in Cincinnati, because we often have quite a variety. Whether it is valuable in the minds of collectors or not, you may find a pattern you love, and your “new” dishes will become priceless possessions.

kitchen items

Kitchenware Event Starts on March 2nd!

It’s that time again! Our annual Kitchenware event is here!

Join us as we showcase a wide selection of new and gently used small kitchen appliances, modern and vintage cookware, table ware, and serving pieces. Some featured brands include Cuisinart, KitchenAid, Oster, Pyrex, Corning Ware, and Dansk.

Event begins in store on Tuesday March 2, 2021.

consigned jewelry

Legacies Is Looking For High End Jewelry For Their Big Jewelry Event

Now through the end of the year!

Legacies is launching its annual high end jewelry event for our 26th Anniversary and we're looking for consignors and donors of:

•    Gold
•    Silver
•    Gemstones (Diamonds, Emeralds, Sapphires, Rubies, etc.)
•    Collectable Costume (Coco Channel, Boucher, Miriam Haskell, Eisenberg, Weiss, etc.)
•    Designer Brands (Cartier, David Yurman, Tiffany, Roberto Coin, Lagos, etc)
•    One of a Kind Art Pieces

Higher consignor splits for jewelry over $200

Do you have any of the above? We want to chat!

Instructions to Consign or Donate Jewelry

1. Call 513.871.8899 or email bblalock@shoplegacies.com to make an appointment

2. Each piece should be cleaned prior to appointment and in its own ziplock bag.

3. Intake sheet should be filled out prior to your arrival for appointment. Request blank intake sheet when you are in the store or ask that one be emailed to you

4. If you have appraisals, receipts or paperwork for the related jewelry, please bring them with you.

The Event begins Tuesday, October 20th at 10am but it runs through the end of the year.

Donated jewelry can be dropped off any time without an appointment; consigned items require an appointment.

Help us kick off the shopping season by donating or consigning your high end jewelry with us.

hermes scarf

Yes, Legacies Sells Hermès Scarves in Cincinnati!

Since 1937, Hermès’ hand-hemmed, 65-gram silk scarves made from the cocoons of 250 mulberry moths have never gone out of style. Queen Elizabeth II, Jackie Kennedy Onassis and Audrey Hepburn made these gorgeous accessories must-haves, and today’s celebrities keep them just as popular.

On their website, Hermès sells in-stock designs for between $195 to over $1,000. An older design goes for much more—when you can find it. But at Legacies Upscale Resale, you’ll discover scarves in Cincinnati by Hermès and other heritage houses in excellent condition at much lower prices.

Why Shop Consignment in Cincinnati for Shawls and Wraps?

There’s saving money, of course, but that’s not the biggest reason to browse the amazing variety of classic and contemporary scarves at Legacies. Our scarves are of the best quality, made with bygone attention to detail, and you can find a wider range of materials and designs than are available at even big-city department stores and boutiques.

Every Hermes Tells a Story

For decades, Hermès’ limited-edition scarves have been highly sought after as fashion and collectibles. Only two new collections are introduced each year (along with a few reprints and limited editions), and anyone who has held on to a Cincinnati scarf-lover’s Hermès has a very special item in their possession.

The distinctive designs of Hermès are instantly recognizable. Each is an iconic luxury that comes with a story of the design’s inspiration. And at a hefty 36” x 36”, most Hermes scarves can be worn a myriad ways around the neck, head or waist.

Is that Cincinnati Headscarf New or Preowned? No One Can Tell!

Scarves don’t take a beating like other clothing items, and a scarf that has been well-maintained is indistinguishable from new. Our Hermes scarves are authenticated before they go on the floor.


fossil watch

Where to Save on Preowned Wristwatches in Cincinnati

In the market for a designer watch? Shocked at the prices and lack of availability? Here’s a secret: you can find a distinctive, name-brand watch at Legacies, the Upscale Resale shop in Hyde Park Plaza. And no one will ever know you bought it secondhand.

There are other places that sell preowned designer watches in Cincinnati, but few offer the quality and variety you’ll find at Legacies. On any given day, you might find a deal on a luxury watch such as an Anne Klein or a Fossil, or one may have just walked out our door on someone else’s wrist. Legacies’ merchandise changes all the time, so check back frequently!

Why Shop Consignment in Cincinnati for a Watch?

Shopping secondhand timepieces at Legacies is smart for a number of reasons:

  • You can find things not available elsewhere
  • Vintage watches have a certain cachet that new ones do not
  • They can be a good investment
  • They are less expensive than new
  • You skip the initial depreciation of a designer watch
  • Watch trends change, so it makes sense to not break the bank

Plus, Legacies’ watches are always in good repair and you can be assured of years of wear with proper cleaning and servicing.

Finding a Timepiece That Makes the Right Statement

We can all check the time on our phones these days, but the panache of a beautiful watch endures. Why? A watch does more than tell time and look elegant as jewelry. It says a lot about who you are: your tastes, interests, and most of all, style. A watch is often a cherished possession. You might wear a high-end timepiece for decades and even pass it down to your children.

There are watches that cost a few dollars and watches that are worth more than the average American’s car. Types and functions vary widely. The materials, colors and design of the face and band all make a specific statement. To a degree, you can change that message by switching out the band when you go from season to season or event to event, but you wouldn’t wear a clunky chronograph to a black-tie event, or a leather-strapped dress watch to the beach.

So it makes sense to think about when and where you will wear your Legacies watch—or watches. Our prices are so good, maybe you will find one for every day and one for evenings out!

Finding Watch Value without Leaving Cincy

We sell vintage, casual, and classy watches in excellent condition at great prices. But watches are one of the few things that hold their value, so our prices may not be as low as you would hope. Nonetheless, our prices are much lower than what you would get from a high-end jeweler or watch seller in Cincinnati.

It’s good to be careful buying a preowned designer watch. Not only do you want to make sure it is authentic, but also that the dial and bracelet are in excellent working order. You don’t want the bracelet to be stretched, for example.

You never have to worry about any of that at Legacies. We are careful to authenticate every watch that comes in.

The added value of buying a watch at Cincinnati’s upscale resale shop is that your purchase makes a difference. Every item we sell is either donated or sold on consignment by someone eager to help people fighting cancer.

Our shop is run by volunteers, so our share of the proceeds go to The Cancer Support Community of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, which supplements medical care with support groups and workshops.

coach purse

Where to Save on Designer Purses in Cincinnati

Shopping for a classy shoulder bag or tote in Cincinnati? They can be hard to find or require long waits. And the prices can take your breath away. A great place to look for bargains is Legacies Upscale Resale. We offer brands such as:

  • Michael Kors - known for innovation
  • Coach - affordable luxury
  • Dooney & Bourke - one of the most respected brands on the market
  • Cole Haan - timeless craft and great bags for organizing your stuff
  • Gucci - enjoying a popularity resurgence
  • Fossil - designs to complement any look
  • Vera Bradley - head-turning feminine prints
  • Anne Klein - versatile

You’ll love our variety and quality. And our pre-loved bags are carefully authenticated (no fakes allowed).

Find The Right Handbag Right in Cincinnati!

Because handbags from high-fashion houses are meant to convey status, they are always an investment, even secondhand. So you want to make sure you are choosing a bag that makes you feel like a million bucks, while fitting your personality and lifestyle.

Some things to consider:

  • What is the reputation of this brand? Is it one with which you want to align yourself?
  • How will you use the bag? For errands, work, every day, vacations, parties, date nights or special occasions? Do you need a clutch, a structured tote, crossbody bag or carryall? They all make a different statement and function differently.
  • What aesthetic are you looking for? The shape and silhouette of a bag is often synonymous with the brand. When people see your bag across a room, they instantly know who designed it. Make sure the bag you choose says what you want it to.
  • Think about quality. What materials do you want? Do you want a machine-made or handmade bag?
  • What about color? Do you want to be able to carry your handbag around Cincinnati year-round? You might prefer a neutral color in that case. Would you rather celebrate spring, for example, with a bag that gets attention? A bright color will suit you best.
  • The last thing to consider is long-term value. An “It-Bag” is super-trendy now, but will the style still work in five years? What about 10? A designer bag is a purchase for the long haul.

Get the Quality you Want

You may wonder if you will feel as confident carrying a secondhand Gucci bag as you would a new one. If the bag comes from Legacies, absolutely!

Here’s our promise: With a pre-owned handbag from Legacies, no one will know you found your iconic carryall in Cincinnati’s favorite resale shop!

Our Hometown Handbags Make a Difference to Your Neighbors

Designer bags are exclusive on purpose. They’re made in small batches and crafted to last, so you will pay a lot more for a pre-loved designer bag than a typical department-store purse. But compared to other Cincinnati handbag boutiques, you’ll most likely be pleasantly surprised at our prices.

Our shop is run by volunteers, which also helps keep our prices low.

Money spent at Legacies also makes a difference. Everything we sell is either donated or sold on consignment by people who want to help others. Your purchases enhance traditional medical care with professionally-led support groups and healthy lifestyle classes at The Cancer Support Community.

Get Your Next Purse in the ‘Nati

Shopping at Legacies is always a fun adventure. You never know what deals you will find. But that’s part of the fun of shopping for luxury goods without leaving town! If you don’t see what you want this week, try again soon—the bag you’ve been dreaming of, the one that will transform your wardrobe, may have just come in!

Legacies Upscale Resale
Hyde Park Plaza
3854 Paxton Ave.
Cincinnati, OH 45209

Newsletter slide

Legacies Has Reopened! New Hours (COVID-19 UPDATE)

Updated 6/10/2020

We’ve Reopened!

Legacies has reopened as of June 9th, 2020 with new shortened hours:

*Tuesday – Saturday: 10am – 5pm
10am – 11am reserved for at-risk shoppers

Sunday: 12pm - 4pm

(We’ll be closed Mondays).

Masks are required and social distancing will be in affect. We look forward to seeing you all again soon, safely. Be well!

Ellen E. Shown
General Manager


Shop at Legacies This Holiday Season!

Here it is again: the rush and bustle of the year-end holidays. Instead of fighting crowds at the mall, try something different for 2019 by shopping at Legacies Upscale Resale store. You’ll find a wonderland of furniture, textiles, dishware and decorations to help you welcome family home for the holidays in style.

Legacies, located in Cincinnati at the Hyde Park Plaza, is looking quite festive. We have wonderful items available including holiday-themed china, tea services, tablecloths, cloth napkins, centerpieces, wreaths and more. Whether you are going traditional, or want something fresh or out of the ordinary, Legacies’ knowledgeable volunteers can help you set a breathtaking holiday table. We only offer items in good condition, at prices that will help restore your holiday cheer.

Good for your wallet, our community, and the environment

You can feel good about preparing for the holidays at Legacies. Not only will you save money with our friendly prices, but proceeds from all purchases go to the Cancer Support Community Greater Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky.

Your “deals and steals” help the environment too: items for sale at Legacies are either donated, or on consignment, so no new resources went into making anything on the showroom floor. When you buy from Legacies, you are “reducing, reusing and recycling.” Furniture, jewelry, tableware and decorations in great condition get a second life instead of a ride to Mount Rumpke.

Better than new

There’s another reason to try Legacies. Sometimes buying used is a better investment than buying new. Much of our gently used merchandise comes with yesterday’s solid materials and careful craftsmanship, made when household items were built to last.

Get Your Holiday Shopping Done At Legacies

Take a break from the holiday countdown to explore our relaxed, beautiful showroom and talk shop with Legacies’ volunteer staff. We're open Tuesday to Friday 10-7, Saturday 10-5, and Sunday 12-5.

Check out the Legacies Facebook page for images on what’s for sale.