Designed & Handcrafted: The Incredible Estate of Thomas ("Tom") William Astle


Design & Decor | PUBLISHED 05.20.21 | Jennifer Ventresca
Large Copper Sculpture as room divider by Thomas W. Astle creates a backdrop for their living room's seating area. | BRG

We've said it in past blogs, we'll say it again... we L-O-V-E time capsule estates! This time, the estate is a true MCM marvel!

BRG is pleased to present a true Mid-Century Modern home with 1960s and 70s accents designed by the owners, as well as filled with objects designed and handcrafted by the owners, Thomas and Joan Astle.

BRG BlogThomas received a BS in engineering at Carnegie Institute of Tech (Carnegie Mellon University) where he met Joan, a student of architecture. Upon graduation, they were married and Thomas immediately shipped out for active duty in the Korean War as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

After the war, the couple eventually settled in their Connecticut home. It was Thomas' creative skills in engineering and carpentry that allowed him to complete the home's interior, as well as building all the furniture contained within its walls. For both Thomas and Joan, it appears to have been a design-build labor of love, as noted in Joan's scrapbook entry:

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My pencil got out of hand in designing the buffet (see above) for the dining room, and we almost didn't get it out of the cellar. It is made of walnut, with a white formica top. The huge hutch on top is separate, and the whole unit is 6'-0" long and about 7'0" high. We also made this table, of solid walnut with a white formica top. (This top is very nice, since we have two little boys who are rather messy eaters.) As yet we don't have any chairs. We have had trouble finding any to match our walnut finish. The chairs in the picture are borrowed from the kitchen.

— Joan Astle

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At the time, the home even caught the eye of local news media, as noted in the Woman's World section of the New Haven Register on April 15, 1966, "Astle Combination Room Includes Novel Features," which touted the home's unique features. The article highlights the (at the time) "contemporary" furniture -- all build and designed by the Astles -- along with the overall design choices from wall and ceiling paint choices and custom walnut panel work to the window treatment fabrics.

The photograph in the article has a caption that reads,

Unique setting: the living-dining room of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas W. Astle's home... is part of a house designed by Mrs. Astle. With the exception of the dining room chairs, all the furniture was designed, built and upholstered by Mr. Astle. He and Mrs. Astle are responsible for most of the room's decor. From the glass window-door wall, a pan oramic [sic] view is discernible.

Quint, Ruth. 1966. "Astle Combination Room Includes Novel Features." New Haven Register. 15 Apr 1966.

Moreover Thomas' family noted that "Tom's creative engineering and carpentry skills allowed him to complete the interior of their new home and build all of their furniture including a unique dining room table with hot plates embedded in each setting, ... a fish tank coffee table, ... and snooker table where Tom routinely schooled his guests."

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1.

Mid-Century Modern Custom Cabinets and Dining Set (item #168902)

2.

Custom Three Slate Pool and Snooker Table (item #168916)

3.

Custom Designed and Handmade Coffee Table Fish Tank (item #168911)

Impressively, much of the furniture in the entire home was handcrafted and designed by the Astles, including some pretty amazing pieces such as these....

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1.

Two Piece Mid-Century Modern Custom Walnut Display Cabinet (item #168920)

2.

Custom Designed and Handcrafted Double Desk and Storage Unit -- the really nice thing about this custom piece is that it can be reconfigured to meet the needs of a variety of room sizes. (item #168908)

3.

Unique Custom Game Night Cocktail Table (item #168921)

4.

Custom Designed and Handcrafted Retro Wood Veneer Desk (item #168914)

5.

Custom Mid-Century Modern Low Console (item #168903)

6.

Custom Designed and Handcrafted Walnut Dining Table with Formica Top (also mentioned in Joan Astle's journal entry -- above) (item #168909)

In addition to creating a versatile array of furniture, Tom Astle enjoyed creating works of art in a variety of mediums including quite a few sculptural pieces for both walls and tabletops. Some of our staff favorites include...

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1.

Glass Panel Mounted on Cork Board by Joan Astle (item #168971)

2.

Wire and Wood Tree Sculpture, Thomas W. Astle (American 1930- 2021)
(item #168943)

3.

Glass and Brass Sculpture, Thomas W. Astle (American 1930-2021)
(item #168918)

4.

Layered Wood Block Wall Art, Thomas W. Astle (American, 1930-2021)
(item #168906)

5.

Glass and Metal Mesh Wall Art, Thomas W. Astle (American 1930-2021)
(item #168974)

In addition to their own creations, the couple acquired a variety of items from years of travel -- some of which might even be attributed to Thomas' time in Korea...

BRG Blog

1.

Large Mixed Lot of Japanese Decorative and Service Objects (item #169817)

2.

Enormous Lot of More Than Eighty Vintage Japanese Kokeshi Dolls (item #169814)

3.

Japanese Porcelain Vase with Peacocks from Yamaji (item #168930)

4.

Collection of Seven Vintage Danish Viking Trolls (item #168954)

5.

Pair of Hand painted Japanese Clam Shells with Screen (item #169836)

6.

Mid-Century Modern Print, Eva Landori (Hungary, 1912-1987), Abstract of Figures and Horses (item #169848)

We hope you enjoy this one-of-a-kind MCM collection as much as we do, but more importantly enjoy learning a little bit about the people behind the collection.


To view the entire catalog for the Incredible Estate of Thomas William Astle Online Auction, Orange CT, click here.


Keywords: New Haven Register, MCM, Mid Century Modern, Mid-century, architect, handcrafted, custom furniture, handcrafted, Black Rock Galleries, Thomas William Astle, Thomas Astle, Carnegie Institute of Technology, cocktail table, console, walnut, dining table, dining room, sculpture, art, Korean War, Asian art, Asian decoration, 1960s, time capsule

Designed & Handcrafted: The Incredible Estate of Thomas ("Tom") William Astle. Black Rock Galleries provides high end estate liquidation services through online estate auctions and a 50,000 sq ft designer showroom. estate liquidator, estate sale, online auction, antiques, fine art, liquidation, clean outs, auction, consignment, interior design, fine jewelry, collectibles, appraisals, estate appraisals, estate services, decor, furniture, furniture consignment, antique center, consignment shop. We offer appraisal services and specialize in fine art, jewelry, antiques and decorative arts. Sell with us. Black Rock Galleries is the tri-state's largest estate liquidator serving New England and the greater New York City area. We are the trusted source for expert appraisals, auction services, estate sales, and consignments. Black Rock Galleries is the east coast's largest and most trusted estate liquidator, with locations in Connecticut, greater Boston, MA and Raleigh, NC, Dallas, TX. We are the best source for expert appraisals, auction services, estate sales and consignments. We have served thousands of families and estates with compassion, professionalism and expertise. BRG works with attorneys, executors, realtors and families to bring the greatest return on personal and estate property in the current market. Our unique combination of services make us the easy choice to get the job done in a timely and stress-free manner. We are with you from the initial consultation to the final clean out. Our house-built online auction software platform offers clients a dynamic approach to liquidating their personal property. This venue is most successful in bringing the best return with the least amount of disruption for our clients. See our services page for a complete description of this offering. Designed & Handcrafted: The Incredible Estate of Thomas ("Tom") William Astle
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