1946 George Nelson for Herman Miller Desk
Appraised Value: $5,000 - $7,000 (2012)
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (2:32)
Rago Arts & Auction Center
GUEST: This desk belonged to my grandparents who lived in Queens, New York, their entire lives. I now own the desk. All I know about the desk is that it is referred to as the Herman Miller desk.
APPRAISER: This is a Herman Miller desk. And it's designed by George Nelson. It's a home office desk. It was designed in 1945 and produced in 1946. When you look at this desk, it's completely contemporary. This desk could fit in any house today. It looks like it could have been designed yesterday, last year. It's fantastic. George Nelson was probably one of America's most important designers. He started off in the 1930s traveling through Europe. He wrote articles for various magazines. He got into modern in the 1930s in Europe. He comes back to the United States, the war breaks out. By the end of World War II, he becomes the head designer for Herman Miller, which Herman Miller becomes one of the most important modern producing companies in America. No company made more modern than Herman Miller did. But this piece is George Nelson at its very best. It does everything right. It's everything modern. It looks to me like this drawer right here might be replaced. Is that true?
GUEST: Not that I know of. It does look a little lighter, but...
APPRAISER: It does, and it's also made out of ash, where most of the drawers were made out of birch. My guess is this has been replaced at some point throughout the course of the life of this piece. In a lot of areas of collecting, having replaced parts makes a big difference price-wise. A big difference. What's great about modern, there's a youthful enthusiasm to it, and they don't care so much. It was always a combination of form and function with Herman Miller, too. If you'll pull that end out, that's a drawer to put your files in.
GUEST: Right, okay.
APPRAISER: So it has no bottom in it, it looks very modern.
GUEST: I love the holes in it.
APPRAISER: This side, if you pull this drawer out, you could put your typewriter right here. It's a great piece of modernism. We have a leather top here, a leather writing surface. The value is somewhat dependent on the color. Like green ones, red ones, dark ones usually bring more money than the lighter colored ones.
GUEST: Whatever became of the Herman Miller Company?
APPRAISER: They're still in business.
GUEST: Oh, they're still in business.
APPRAISER: They're still in business today, absolutely. At auction, this piece would probably bring between $5,000 and $7,000.
GUEST: Okay, wow, okay.
APPRAISER: And it's also in very good condition. Your grandparents took very good care of it.
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