See an example of a real George Nakashima butterfly joint.

During ANTIQUES ROADSHOW’s 2004 event in Memphis, Tennessee, a guest named Cindy brought in what she believed could be a George Nakashima table. Although the table’s irregular shape and cypress material alluded to the maker being Nakashima himself, upon closer look, Decorative Arts & Furniture appraiser Karen Keane noted one big giveaway that the table was not designed by the Japanese craftsman.

Keane pointed out that two pieces of metal were holding a natural piece of wood together – an element that was not a part of Nakashima’s style. Keane explained:

“Now, it 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.”

But what exactly does a “butterfly hinge” or "joint" look like? ROADSHOW found an example on a 1988 George Nakashima Canoid Bench in Green Bay back in 2017.

See the butterfly joint below!

About the Author Melanie Albanesi
Melanie Albanesi is an associate digital producer for ANTIQUES ROADSHOW.