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Magnificent, if miniature, obsession Home: Collectors of tiny chairs care fiercely about their hobby -- so fiercely that the book about it is called 'Chairmania.'

December 24, 1995|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,SUN STAFF

"The secret of my collection," says Mr. Beylerian, "is originality. Few are pure classical replicas. They are fantasy, the pretenders [by which he means miniatures that are something else entirely, like jewelry boxes], the explosively beautiful."

On exhibit at the National Building Museum is about a third of his collection, which started when he was given a promotional miniature on a trip to Italy. A year or so later he impulsively bought a twig love seat in a gift shop.

"It had not yet occurred to me that I was 'catching a bug,' " he says in "Chairmania."

"Still, in complete innocence, I accumulated two or three more chairs until I realized my good friend Dorothy Kalins [editor of Garden Design] had just a few more chairs than me."

Thus are fanatic collectors born.

"Chairmania" will be at the National Building Museum through Jan. 14. The address is 401 F St. N.W., Washington.

The easiest way to get there is to take the Metro Red Line, Judiciary Square Station, which lets you out at the front door.

Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday; noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Closed Christmas and New Year's Day. Admission is free.

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