It is the end of an era for The Prop House in Cape Town, and you can own your own piece of their history at an auction. A unique and irreplaceable collection of mid-century, antique and vintage furniture and homeware, including the single largest collection of modernist and postmodernist furniture to be offered in South Africa for over a decade, will be auctioned in Cape Town next month.

On September 28 and 29, the long-awaited The Prop House auction will take place, offering attendees the chance to get their hands on 1 500 high end movie props collected by husband and wife Tess Wolpe and Will Hinton.

Their collection holds a total value is estimated at R5-million.


The designer furniture on auction will include numerous original and high-end replica items by Mies van Der Rohe, Eileen Gray, Arne Jacobsen, Charles and Ray Eames, Le Corbusier, Ron Arad, George Nelson, Mackintosh and the Memphis Group.

Smaller designer items include Alessi homeware, contemporary lighting and Murano glass.

 The Prop House started their collections in London some 20 years ago, and in 1998 Wolpe and Hinston left London with three containers filled with collectables from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

Having already been established in the British film industry, The Prop House opened an outlet in Paarden Eiland aimed at a niche market of international film companies in search of authentic, high quality items. 

Already renowned as astute collectors with an unerring eye, the couple grew The Prop House with local and international acquisitions. Soon it became the first port of call for art directors, stylists and film-makers. 

“All good things must, however, come to an end,” said Alf Duncan, owner of Alf Duncan Auctioneers. “As Tess and Will are retiring from their business, we have been entrusted with their emporium stocked with exceptional items.”

Alf Auctioneers will have the pleasure of auctioning these unique items later this year.

Some unique aspects of the auction include:

Modern classics

Iconic 1950s chairs include a black leather Egg chair and ottoman with manufacturer’s label by Arne Jacobsen, which could receive bids of R40 000 – R60 000; and a red Coconut chair designed by George Nelson and manufactured by Vitra (R15 000 – R25 000).

Auction expertise

Alf Duncan Auctioneers has previously undertaken prestigious sales such as the contents of Tweedside Manor in Matjiesfontein, decor from the Mount Nelson Hotel, the Blue Train following refurbishments, and props from the Black Sails historical adventure TV series filmed in Cape Town.

Charles Rudd, founder of Charles Rudd Auctioneers, will assist as a specialist consultant and auctioneer.  “This is an opportunity to source items that you would normally view only in private collections or galleries ‒ now available to the general public at this no reserve sale,” said Rudd, who conducted The Prop House relocation sale for Tess and Will in 2006.

Home and business décor

 Alf Duncan Auctioneers GM Angie Humm and auctioneer Justin Knott said: “While there are many items that specialist collectors will consider extremely desirable, we also want to encourage homeowners and entrepreneurs to view stock.

“If you’re planning to open a coffee outlet, there are enough small café tables and chairs to set up a business.  There’s everything you could need for a home swimming pool setting – from beach umbrellas and braais to contemporary loungers and cool-boxes. Even children are catered for with a selection of teddy bears and toys.

“You’ll also discover quirky items such as vintage bikes and radios for around R500 – R1 500 each and an American TV, circa 1970, that looks like a space helmet.” 

Decorative pictures, musical instruments, bronzes, cameras, coffee-making machines and much, much more are also on offer.

“Whether you are a movie buff or simply have an eye for the unusual, these eclectic items have been collected with style and imagination. Viewing ahead of time is vital,” advised Duncan.


Preview and auction times

Previewing and the auction will be held at The Prop House premises on the corner of Albert Road and Railway Street, Woodstock, Cape Town.

The preview period is Monday 24 September (Heritage Day public holiday) to Thursday 27 September, 10am – 4pm . The goods can also be viewed during auction days ‒ Friday 28 September and Saturday 29 September, 10:00 to 16:00. 

To join the auction mailing list, e-mail [email protected] or contact the Alf Duncan Auctioneers office on 021-854 8589. 

 Pictures: Supplied

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