Eames Dining Chair, ca. 1960
Appraised Value: $100 - $125
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (3:19)
Decorative Arts, Furniture
Partner & Chief Executive Officer
GUEST: We needed dining room chairs to go with our Danish contemporary, and my husband liked architecture, and he really loved the clean lines, so we liked the Herman Miller lines, and so we bought our dining room chairs.
APPRAISER: You had a Danish modern home?
GUEST: Well, most of the furniture, yes, was Danish modern.
APPRAISER: And when did you purchase this chair?
GUEST: Probably in the '60s. It's original with us.
APPRAISER: And you have how many?
APPRAISER: Six of them, and you've brought one example. Well, this is a chair that was sold through Herman Miller, but designed by Charles Eames. But the nifty thing about this chair is that you really have two very important architects and designers from the 20th century working in collaboration to make this chair, and it was Harry Bertoia and also Charles Eames. Now, Bertoia was originally a metalworker. And so he understood metal. He was working with Eames in California in the early '50s and designed this chair with him, but of course, with great big egos, as you can imagine... I mean, Bertoia and Eames are just icons of the 20th century. With those great egos, there was a break with the two of them, and Bertoia went off to work with the Noel Company and design a whole line of these metal chairs. But Eames had his name on this design, and I wonder really how much he made of it, because when you look at other Bertoia chairs, this really looks like a Bertoia.
GUEST: Oh, okay.
APPRAISER: He used to work with his metal mesh. The chair has, though, a tragic flaw to it. It went into production in the '50s, but what they found with the chair-- and let's flip it over and look at the base-- was that there was a stress point on the metal here, and it was cracking, and so they stopped using it. The other thing about it is, these chairs are known as... an H-frame on them, which is all an Eames design. Eames had originally made the shape of this chair in fiberglass, and I'm sure you've seen those. And they worked in fiberglass, but they didn't work so well in metal. But your chairs are in very good condition, so you must be sitting lightly on them.
GUEST: Well, they're dining room chairs. You don't use them as much.
APPRAISER: It has its original upholstery on it, which you didn't change. And this fabric was probably designed by Alexander Girard. Don't change the fabric, because if you do that, really the value leaves the set of chairs. Any idea what you might have paid in the '60s for these?
GUEST: I would say well under a hundred.
APPRAISER: Under a hundred, certainly. Well, the surprising thing about these chairs is that their value has really not increased tremendously. There are enough of these around that, at auction, you might estimate a group of six of them to be $800 to $1,200. So it's very, very affordable. Just a single, which we see quite often come up at auction, could fetch $100, $125. So it's much better to have a group. They're sometimes described as the bikini chair. It's not anything Charles Eames would have ever have called his chair, but this two-piece sometimes is referred to that in the trade.
GUEST: Thank you very much.
APPRAISER: Thanks so much for bringing them.
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