George Nelson Herman Miller Chest

Value (2008) | $1,700 Retail$2,000 Retail

About three years ago, maybe four years ago, we bought the house of the son of the founder of Herman Miller Company, Hugh De Pree, and the neighbor came by and she said that she was selling some Herman Miller bedroom furniture because they were moving to a condo. So we bought a whole bedroom set with end tables and a vanity and a couple of shelves and this was one of the pieces in the set. The house was designed by George Nelson in 1946 for Hugh De Pree, so we thought George Nelson furniture would be great in this house.

Well, 1946 is actually quite early, because George Nelson is just beginning to get started replacing Gilbert Rohde, who died as the design director at Herman Miller. Your chest here was designed in 1946, introduced at the Grand Rapids summer market in July 1947. And the first catalogue that it appears in, I think, is 1948. And it was in production for at least ten years, available for purchase right up until about 1958, 1959. It was a really versatile series of pieces, and the drawers could vary so you could have smaller drawers. The depth of the case would always be the same, right at about 18 inches, and you had the option of either ordering it on legs, as your piece has, or brushed chrome legs, or you could have no legs at all and it would sit on a bench system, which was a very kind of new concept in furnishings beginning after the Second World War. Very indicative of postwar furniture. It was great for smaller households. Nice aluminum handles on it. The wood is primavera. Nice, pristine example. This one is not rare but an absolutely wonderful example of the piece, still with the Herman Miller decal. Uh-huh. The decal would put it at mid-1950s. They stopped this label in about 1956. And just a wonderful, pristine example. How much did you pay for it?

Well, the lady who sold it to us, her uncle worked at Herman Miller and gave her this set, and so she knew what Herman Miller furniture was worth, so she charged us $1,500 for this piece.

Modest retail value would be in the neighborhood of $1,200 to $1,500.


With the great provenance behind it, you could add probably $500 to that.

Great, thanks.

It's a great piece. Thanks for bringing it.

Appraisal Details

Appraised value (2008)
$1,700 Retail$2,000 Retail
Grand Rapids, MI (August 09, 2008)

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