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October 17, 2013

Mystery Solved : Vintage Hawaii Floral Picture Finally Identified as a Ted Mundorff Original Print

By Sara In AZ

Some of you may remember last February I posted about a vintage Hawaii picture I had found at the thrift store, but was having trouble figuring out who the artist actually was. Well thanks to you, our lovely blog community, I FINALLY have an answer!

This picture had me confused right down to what the subject matter was…..and then not knowing who the artist was had me doubly confused!


I originally thought this was a lily, but thanks to our FAB readers it was identified as an orchid……yes, you can tell that I am a huge plant and flower dunce, so thank you to all who chimed in! I appreciate it!


But there was still that nagging “who did this signature belong to” question floating around my mind. I searched Muriel Ott,  Muriel Ortt, Muriel Orff and any variation of that with the word ‘Hawaii’……I contacted different organizations familiar with art like this in an effort to gain knowledge of who this artist was……I would do blind Google searches  for ‘vintage Hawaii pictures’ to see if pictures like this came up in the images – to no avail. Months passed, still no answer.

It was still nagging at me…who was this artist? I thought with the picture being hand signed and looking so professional it HAD to mean something…..but what? Who?????

Well, here is the thing – we all mistakenly thought that signature was a first and last name, it wound up being the artists last name only……and thanks to No Pattern Required reader Bob O Link we now know the artist is Ted Mundorff.


Whoo to the Hooo……..I am SO happy to finally know after all of this time!

So of course that set me off to find out as much as I could about the artist Ted Mundorff!

Here is what I found out from the Art Gallery – Worldwide website:

Born in Pennsylvania in 1910, Ted Mundorff traveled as a child to Hawaii, where he was educated at the prestigious private school of Punaho in Honolulu. Upon graduation, he returned to the mainland and painted cars for the Ford Motor Company in Detroit, before moving to Los Angeles, where he designed greeting cards for Hallmark.

Returning to Hawaii in 1936, he started a career as painter, illustrator, and cartoonist, eventually opening his “Hawaiian Pallet” studio in Honolulu.

Mundorff earned respect as an artist whose interpretations of local tropical flowers are as popular today as they were at the time of their creation. Like so many talents of the time, he employed the then new and revolutionary airbrush technique to achieve the soft blends and beautiful tonal shading that medium affords, and he perfected it as his own.

Ted Mundorff died in November 1969, leaving a legacy of romantic botanical studies that are eagerly sought after today by a new generation of collectors.

Here is a picture of Ted Mundorff from the Art Gallery – Worldwide site.


And that brings me to one more point I was wrong about in regards to this picture – I thought it was done in chalk pastels….as you can see it was airbrushed. Oh boy, I couldn’t have been MORE wrong about everything  concerning this picture could I ?! eeps!!!

ART.COM has a large selection of Mundorff reprint posters for sale.


And, I even managed to find these original Mundorff pictures for sale from Modernaire.


I really, really love my Ted Mundorff orchid picture and I am so glad I found it that day….you just never, ever know what you are going to find at the thrifts!


And I have to say one last big giant ‘Thank You’ (again) to all of our readers who are so helpful and kind with their comments…we could not do this without you!

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28 Responses to Mystery Solved : Vintage Hawaii Floral Picture Finally Identified as a Ted Mundorff Original Print

  1. RetroRuth Reply

    October 17, 2013 at 9:25 am

    Even without knowing who the artist was, it was gorgeous, but now it is even better! Thank you Bob o link!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      October 17, 2013 at 3:45 pm

      I totally agree Ruth……I really liked the pic before and I love it now that I know who the artist is!

  2. Eartha Kitsch Reply

    October 17, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    Very cool! Is yours an original or a print? I’m so glad the mystery is solved!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      October 17, 2013 at 3:48 pm

      I am pretty sure that mine is an original Eartha – it is hand signed in pencil just like the pictures they are selling for $350 on the Modernaire site…..the signature and the prints they are selling on art.com look WAY different than what I have.

  3. MadgesHatbox.com Reply

    October 17, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Great ending! This is why I love vintage so much. If you dig deep enough there is always a story.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      October 17, 2013 at 3:51 pm

      That is so true Pam…half the fun of vintage is figuring out the back story!

  4. Chic Vintage Goods Reply

    October 17, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    Love this story and that the mystery has been solved!!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      October 17, 2013 at 8:20 pm

      Thanks so much……and !YAY! that I finally know who the artist is!!!

  5. Andrea Reply

    October 18, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    Yay! And how cool is it that yours is an original, too! Wow!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      October 20, 2013 at 2:25 pm

      I know, I was super excited to find out Andrea…yay!!!

  6. tammyCA Reply

    October 20, 2013 at 10:10 pm

    Yay, for the mystery solved and what a treasure, too. I never have that kind of luck at the thrifts…I think they are pretty savvy about what comes in and so it goes in the high priced section.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      October 21, 2013 at 12:03 pm

      Soooooo glad the mystery is solved Tammy…keep your eyes peeled at your thrifts – you never, ever know what will pop up. Our thrifts here have the higher priced section as well, isn’t it so funny to think of a thrift store as having a “high end” section! 🙂

  7. Tammy in Texas Reply

    October 27, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    Sara so glad you found out who the artist is… I to have a Ted Mundorff. It is the Cattleya Orchid (14×18). I am not sure if it is an airbrush or a print. Do you know if there is a way to tell? My mother has had it in storage for years. It is not matted or framed. She has kept it flat all these years with cardboard backing (not attached).

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      October 27, 2013 at 8:30 pm

      Tammy…hmmmmmmm…..you know what, I don’t really think I know enough about the originals vs. prints to make a qualified answer about your picture.

      In the case of the picture I found, I could be completely wrong in thinking it is an original, but when I look at it in person it looks absolutely like an artists original and not like a print. The pencil signature also looks real and not just like a copy.

      Honestly, I think for either of us to really know 100% we would have to bring it into a gallery that is familiar with this artist and have someone tell us either way.

  8. Kat welch Reply

    May 19, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    I bought two Ted Mundorff paintings at a yard sale for one dollar each. I knew they were old and vintage as soon as I saw them! I have the pale pink hibiscus which i found on-line for $350.00 and another flower that I haven’t been able to identify yet. They both are original airbrushed and signed in pencil. The lady I bought them from said she got them in Hawaii many years ago.I think she was there in the early 50’s.One of the frames they were in was loose so I took it apart to fix it, that’s how I knew who the artist was because there was a stamp with his name on back.

  9. Judi Powell Reply

    July 20, 2014 at 10:37 pm

    I have two Mundoff prints…..I was born in Hawaii and my parents had them forever.. we were at Hickam AFB. Told my mom I had to have them. She died 2 years ago at age 92 . They were purchased 1945-1947 or there abouts in Hawaii of course, so WHo knows……

  10. Deborah Surprenant Reply

    February 11, 2015 at 6:08 am

    why did he sign his artwork as Muriel Orff Hawaii instead of Ted mundorff I can’t find an answer on the web anywhere can you help me

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      February 11, 2015 at 6:26 pm

      He didn’t sign it as Muriel Orff, he simply signed his last name only…..Mundorff and Hawaii.

  11. Eva Koeper Reply

    April 13, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    I have six original Mundorff paintings. Until I came across this posting I had no idea how much they might be worth. My parents bought them while in Hawaii in 1951. Thanks for the information.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      April 14, 2015 at 8:16 pm

      Lucky you to have 6 prints Eva, glad we could help you out!

  12. BonnieMae Longstreet Reply

    August 18, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    I have two Beautiful Hawaiian Airbrush Paintings by artist Ted Mundorff.I found them in a second hand store in the South end of Seattle , Washington !! I knew as soon as I saw them that they were a treasure and looked and looked for this artist. There are thousands of service men up there too. I’ve seen a lot of cool stuff up there like from the Philippines and carved furniture etc. and a wonderful treasure I found that same time a Buddhist Shrine very old and worth around $(900.00 )I’ll never get rid of. But might sell the Ted Mundorff if anyone is interested in them …. Sincerely,Bonnie Longstreet.

  13. Moala Pulotu Reply

    December 22, 2015 at 4:33 am

    I have Ted Mundorff 5×7 Vintage Collectibles Greeting Cards Flower Collection.All five.I found it in my father dresser.Can anyone tell me if this collection of Ted is worth saving.

  14. Liana Reply

    February 15, 2016 at 7:34 pm

    I just bought a small print of his in ventura california
    Signed” honolulu 1943″ it’s of diamond head in the distance with the beach to the right and on the left a paddle canoe and palm trees, grass hut with flowers. I just spent 2 hours and cant find anything on line regarding this print???

  15. Kay entzel Reply

    July 5, 2016 at 9:51 pm

    Ted Mundorff perfected the airbrush style of painting in the late 30 to early 40s. He was also married to my
    Sisters law in the 40 s., she is standing with him in the photo. She too was a very good artist. Her name is Marqureite,.

  16. Tim Mundorff Reply

    July 9, 2016 at 6:43 am

    Ted Mundorff was my grandfather. He lived with my grandmother in Crawfordsville, Indiana where my father and aunt were born. Ted wanted my grandmother to return with him to Hawaii, but it wasn’t to be. They split up and he returned to Hawaii and never mentioned the family he had back in the states to anyone. My dad was 3 when he left so he never knew him. His sister longed all her life for Ted to return until her death in a car accident. When I was a child he was not to be spoken of. Only after the web came into being did we know what became of him. I guess time heals all.

  17. Kay entzel Reply

    July 13, 2016 at 10:58 pm

    Your grandfather must have been married after Maggie as she was born in 1917 and died 1979. They were dirvoiced sometime late 40s as she remarried around 1954. She did some modeling for Life Magazine and was a good artist and fantastic person. My daughter has a hand painted Christmas card done by Ted, lovely. I have several prints framed by him, they are so beautiful. Also several orgionals in the family. Maggie said to me he wasn’t a very nice man sad but the truth as you may know. Anyway trying to shed some help in family history.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      July 15, 2016 at 1:32 pm

      Kay – Really, really interesting conversation between you and Tim! It’s pretty neat to get the scoop on all the background/behind the scenes info of the artist.

      Thanks to you both for your comments!

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