Charles and Ray Eames ”LAR“ Chair, ca. 1953

Value (2011) | $800 Auction
Watch  

GUEST:
I received it about five years ago as a gift from a former colleague of mine. He was moving abroad and he couldn't take all of his furniture with him, so I liked this and he said I could have it. I suspected it was Charles Eames, but I did a little bit of looking online, but I really couldn't find anything.

APPRAISER:
Well, it is by Charles Eames. We actually say it's designed by Charles and Ray Eames. His wife was also his design partner.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
It's a very historically significant chair. Examples of this chair are in a lot of important museum collections, and there's a good reason why. Because Charles Eames designed this chair, not only as a functional chair, but also as a system of chairs. The top and the bottom are two separate pieces, and there were many different bases designed to fit this top, and there were several different tops designed to fit the base. The fiberglass top is impregnated with plastic and is very durable. The base is made out of a zinc-plated wire, and the interesting thing about most of the bases that he designed is that they would stack separately when they were detached, and the tops would stack separately. And this is the important historical part of the design process for the Eameses; not only were they designing a chair for comfort, but they were designing the chair for production. It was originally manufactured by the Zenith Plastics Company in California, and it first went into production in about 1950 and it's been in production ever since. The closer the version is to the original concept, the more collectors are interested in it, and this example that you brought in has some of the hallmarks of the earlier version.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
The base is attached to these four rubber shock mounts. This example was definitely made before 1953.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
Those large sized shock mounts that are about three inches in diameter... by 1953, they were shrunk down to about an inch in diameter, and that's one of the hallmarks that collectors like to see. As far as the value goes, it's not tremendously valuable, but you have to realize that there were tens of thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands, of these made over the last several decades. So it was an incredibly successful chair. In today's market, I think this would be worth $800 at auction.

GUEST:
Oh, thank you.

APPRAISER:
Thank you.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Los Angeles Modern Auctions
Sherman Oaks, CA
Appraised value (2011)
$800 Auction
Event
Pittsburgh, PA (August 13, 2011)
Period
20th Century
Form
Chair

Executive producer Marsha Bemko shares her tips for getting the most out of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW.

Value can change: The value of an item is dependent upon many things, including the condition of the object itself, trends in the market for that kind of object, and the location where the item will be sold. These are just some of the reasons why the answer to the question "What's it worth?" is so often "It depends."

Note the date: Take note of the date the appraisal was recorded. This information appears in the upper left corner of the page, with the label "Appraised On." Values change over time according to market forces, so the current value of the item could be higher, lower, or the same as when our expert first appraised it.

Context is key: Listen carefully. Most of our experts will give appraisal values in context. For example, you'll often hear them say what an item is worth "at auction," or "retail," or "for insurance purposes" (replacement value). Retail prices are different from wholesale prices. Often an auctioneer will talk about what she knows best: the auction market. A shop owner will usually talk about what he knows best: the retail price he'd place on the object in his shop. And though there are no hard and fast rules, an object's auction price can often be half its retail value; yet for other objects, an auction price could be higher than retail. As a rule, however, retail and insurance/replacement values are about the same.

Verbal approximations: The values given by the experts on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW are considered "verbal approximations of value." Technically, an "appraisal" is a legal document, generally for insurance purposes, written by a qualified expert and paid for by the owner of the item. An appraisal usually involves an extensive amount of research to establish authenticity, provenance, composition, method of construction, and other important attributes of a particular object.

Opinion of value: As with all appraisals, the verbal approximations of value given at ROADSHOW events are our experts' opinions formed from their knowledge of antiques and collectibles, market trends, and other factors. Although our valuations are based on research and experience, opinions can, and sometimes do, vary among experts.

Appraiser affiliations: Finally, the affiliation of the appraiser may have changed since the appraisal was recorded. To see current contact information for an appraiser in the ROADSHOW Archive, click on the link below the appraiser's picture. Our Appraiser Index also contains a complete list of active ROADSHOW appraisers and their contact details and biographies.