Nakashima-Style Table, ca. 1950

Value (2004) | $1,000 Auction

My husband and I owned a little antique store for about a year and we were put in contact with a gentleman that was selling his father's estate. He told us that his father worked for a company and that this gentleman that made the furniture for this company was under commission to make special furniture, and that it was an unsigned piece and that the gentleman gave this table to his father and that it possibly could be a George Nakashima.

Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. It is a very natural slab of cypress and probably made in the 1950s, early '60s-- at the time, certainly, that George Nakashima was working. Now, we've seen Nakashima furniture here on the ROADSHOW before. And of course he's called the grandfather of the crafts movement here in America. He was a Japanese American and made furniture of natural materials. And as we can see, there is this plank which is just as though it were cut off of a tree and polished a tiny bit but you can see its undulating form, its irregular form. It still has knotholes in it here that have just been polished to use. Let's flip this over. If you take a peek down here, you can see that there are two pieces of metal holding this natural piece of wood together. is not the kind of construction that we would see Nakashima making. We would have expected him to make a beautiful... what's called "dutchman" in cabinetry, and it would be a butterfly hinge-- it would look like an hourglass or butterfly wings. And he would have held the two pieces of wood breaking apart together with that. And so, although it certainly has the feel of Nakashima, you really begin to wonder whether or not it was made by him. Another thing that I would look at are these legs and the fact that they are painted black. I would have expected a Nakashima table to have a natural wood and much more of a canted leg. These legs are quite straight. So the table has a little bit of a stiff quality to it, where Nakashima is known for his grace and elegance and... and natural design.


So I'm not thinking that this is a Nakashima table, although possibly made in the New Hope area where he worked by some of the other craftsmen. Now, how much did you pay for the table?

We paid $400 for it.

$400, okay. Well, you know, a Nakashima table would be selling in the $30,000 range, a lot of money these days. His prices are just continuing because this modern movement is so popular, and I think that that is helpful for this generation of furniture, because it sort of rides on the coattails of Nakashima. This table, I would say probably would bring about $1,000 at auction. We'd call it "in the style of George Nakashima"...


..."school of George Nakashima," but not by him. But it's a wonderful piece and I've enjoyed really seeing it.

I appreciate all the information.

Appraisal Details

Skinner, Inc.
Boston, MA
Appraised value (2004)
$1,000 Auction
Memphis, TN (July 31, 2004)

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