1974 Signed George Nakashima End Table

Value (2013) | $20,000 Auction$25,000 Auction

The first house that we owned was in Great Falls, Virginia, and it was owned by a couple that built the house around this furniture. And my husband and I loved it, and so we found out that the furniture was made by George Nakashima. We looked him up and set an appointment with him, which was extremely hard to do, and had a wonderful time with him. He took us to his storeroom of big, black walnut pieces. I'm very proud to own it.

First of all, this is a great piece of George Nakashima furniture. I've seen literally thousands of pieces of Nakashima, and this piece is almost a ten. It was built in one of his best periods, too. And what I like about it, the top is very architectural. It has great shape, it speaks to the time, the base is fantastic. I think it really speaks to the whole design mode that he was trying to produce. The '70s were a great time period for him. One, his daughter Mira joined him during the '70s. I think in a lot of ways, Mira helped loosen his designs up a little bit. It's made out of walnut. Walnut was his really base wood: it's what he used for most everything. This piece is also signed by George Nakashima, which adds to the value.

We asked him if he would do that for us.

He was often reluctant to sign furniture. Early stuff is never signed, no matter what. I knew people that talked to George Nakashima about signing their pieces, and he said, "No." He wouldn't do it. He must have liked you.

He was wonderful. I wish we could have stayed even longer and gotten to know him even better.

Everyone I've ever known that got furniture from him loved him, and he had a real way with people, that's for sure.

He said that furniture was meant to be loved and enjoyed and used, and that it wouldn't be very interesting at all if it were just perfect. Of course, you're going to get...things happen to furniture, and he wanted you to steel-wool it with a very fine steel wool and oil it with linseed oil. He wanted you to do that.

We've had some sun damage along the front and along the top. This is easy to fix. You can do a couple of things. One, you can send it back to Mira Nakashima in New Hope, Pennsylvania, and she can redo it for you. Or you can do just what George Nakashima told you to do and re-oil it with linseed oil. It's a very simple finish and it's easy to put back on and it'll come right back to life. It's not a big deal. You've not hurt this piece in any way, shape or form. It's not 18th-century furniture, so the finish can be redone and redone with no effect on the ultimate value at all.

But this won't come back, will it?

It will. It will all oil back. So what do you think this piece is worth?

Well, we had furniture appraised in 2007. It was about $17,000 then. Paid $200 for it back in 1974.

So you paid $200 for this? One sold last year for about $25,000, so I would estimate this piece at auction at $20,000 to $25,000.

Oh, my goodness.

Appraisal Details

Rago Arts & Auction Center
Lambertville, NJ
Appraised value (2013)
$20,000 Auction$25,000 Auction
Boise, ID (June 29, 2013)
20th Century
Walnut, Wood

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