Modern + Contemporary Design /25 March 2007



salesman's sample prison door assembly
c. 1935
cold-riveted stainless steel, aluminum and steel with solid octagonal bars
54½ w × 8 d × 23½ h in (138 × 20 × 60 cm)

Mythic-sized histories surround both subject matters represented in this lot: traveling salesmanship and prison life. One of the most notably depicted salesmen, Arthur Miller’s Willie Loman, has come to symbolize both the potential and fragility of the American Dream. Long hours and hard work define the profession, representing both the amazing work ethic and lofty goals of the American worker. Prison lore also has a long fascinating place in 20th century history, as American culture both fetishizes and condemns inmates. While the penitentiary system represents safety for the masses, the physical prison represents punishment for the individual. These doors symbolize both what America is proud of and what the culture is ashamed of. This sample is from the period in which prison life became a recurring theme within popular culture; this model of door was utilized in Alcatraz, perhaps the most famous and highly publicized prison in America. As an immaculately crafted and fully functioning model, this lot holds both potent symbolism and striking physicality as an object.

estimate: $20,000–30,000
result: $30,000

Own a similar item?

Evaluation of Property

Use this form to submit images and details for items that you would like to consign to auction. Need helpful tips?

  • Please be as descriptive as possible including details about an items condition and history.
  • Where did you get the piece and does it have a special provenance?
  • Do you know any details regarding the edition, vintage, designer, or other particulars?

Catalog Added to Cart

This catalog has been added to your cart. Please checkout or continue browsing.