CHICAGO – Three versions of the classic Eames lounge chair and ottoman by Herman Miller (model numbers 670 and 671) were offered during the August 15 American Design sale at Wright. However, it was the circa-1965 example with special-order upholstery that set the standard, achieving $11,135.
The chair that Charles and Ray Eames originally designed in 1956 as a gift to director Billy Wilder was put into general production by Herman Miller shortly afterwards with a retail price of the $310.
Labels and materials are the best place to start when it comes to dating Eames chairs. The earlier examples have veneers of Brazilian rosewood (an exotic wood that was designated as an endangered species in the early 1990s) and the circular disc label used by Hermann Miller from 1956 to the 1970s. As to color, it is typically a matter of taste. While for most collectors it is case of “any color as long as it’s black,” the best-selling example here was in a bespoke green leather.
The top two lots in the sale were part of a cache of 16 lots by Edward Wormley (1907-95). The pieces in this sale had a nice provenance as they were acquired by the original owner directly from Dunbar Furniture Co. and came by descent. Most are classic mid-century forms that are pictured in The Dunbar Book of Modern Furniture, the design catalog issued by the Indiana manufacturers in 1953.
Showcasing Wormley’s minimalist, practical style were two pairs of the walnut and mahogany Model 5264 shelf bookcase that dates to circa 1949. These were estimated at $5,000-$7,000 and $3,000-$5,000 and hammered for $14,000 ($18,340) and $13,000 ($17,030), respectively.