1967 George Nakashima Frenchman’s Cove Table

Value (2008) | $50,000 Retail$60,000 Retail

APPRAISER:
As soon as I saw this table, I thought, "This is a George Nakashima table." And I crawled all over it and couldn't find any signature or any marking. So, is it a George Nakashima table?

GUEST:
Yes, it is. We bought it directly from George Nakashima at his studio in New Hope, Pennsylvania. We actually did see Mr. Nakashima and he took us through his barn to show us the different kinds of wood that he had. And he would take a damp cloth and wipe down the side so we could see what the wood would look like, and especially the sap grain, how that would turn out in the piece. And this is bookend, so the one piece opened up. And it was amazing that we could see all those different woods.

APPRAISER:
So you personally chose these boards for your own table.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
Well, the wood on the top is what's called Indian laurel, which a lot of people would mistake for walnut. Nakashima was famous for searching the world over for exotic woods and great grains. He always was interested in the finest tree that God created, in essence. And that's what he was looking for above all else when he created a piece. And you said that these pieces are book ended or book matched. If I flip this over, they would be in the same part of the tree. That's why we have this sapwood. And for those that don't know, the sapwood is the new growth of the tree. That's the very edge of the tree right below the bark. And until it becomes the heartwood, which is the dark wood, it stays this light color. And if you look over here on the front edge, you can see the places where it's worn away because it's less durable. And in most furniture, they cut away the sapwood. But Nakashima saw the color potential in it and he liked that sense of figure, so he utilizes it and he creates a beautiful edge around the board. This is called a Frenchman's Cove table.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
What else happened?

GUEST:
Well, I was asking him how to maintain the table, because to me it was a work of art and if it got scratched I'd be upset. And he said, well, scratches actually give character to the pieces. And he said that some of his pieces were scratched because his son, Kevin, made scratches on the tables, and he called that Kevinizing.

APPRAISER:
(laughing) Kevinizing.

GUEST:
This is the sketch that he made for us when he was going to do the table so we could see what it looked like.

APPRAISER:
Well, it doesn't get any better than that. And can I ask, how much did you have to pay for it when... what was it, 1967?

GUEST:
1967, $630.

APPRAISER:
I have to tell you, there is nobody hotter in the furniture market today than George Nakashima. His prices actually declined in the '90s after he died, and around the turn of the century, they started really coming back up. And right now he is, without question, the hottest furniture maker in the country. Hands down. His stuff has been selling for record prices. And a piece like this, which is in great condition, never out of the family, with the original bill of sale, the current market value in a retail setting is easily $50,000, $60,000.

GUEST:
Oh, that's great. Thank you very much.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
J. M. Flanigan American Antiques
Baltimore, Maryland
Appraised value (2008)
$50,000 Retail$60,000 Retail
Event
Hartford, CT (August 23, 2008)
Period
20th Century
Form
Table
Material
Wood

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