Nakashima furniture featured in design auction
June 4, 2021 | 9:56 am CDT
George Nakashima furniture auction

Up for auction in Philadelphia, the “Minguren I” coffee table, which has an oval table top made of Oregon myrtle and American black walnut—references George Nakashima’s upbringing in the Pacific Northwest but was constructed in his longtime Pennsylvania-based studio.

PHILADELPHIA, PA—Freeman’s, the prestigious Philadelphia auction house, presented a Select Design auction June 8 featuring 11 works by renowned furniture artist George Nakashima, as well as pieces by Tiffany Studios, Samuel Yellin, and Michael Graves.

Freeman’s is well-known for its sale of Nakashima furniture; in 2020 alone, it sold 67 works by the renowned New Hope furniture maker. “Select Design underscores this reputation for our careful stewardship of Nakashima furniture. An auction highlight is an exceptional 1961 “conoid” desk, in which a characteristic asymmetrical design is rendered in English walnut, American black walnut, rosewood, and hickory (Lot 13; estimate: $60,000-80,000),” said Tim Andreadis, Head of Design for Freeman’s.

George Nakashima desk
Built by George Nakashima in 1961, this “conoid” desk, features a characteristic asymmetrical design in English walnut, American black walnut, rosewood, and hickory. It is estimated to sell for $60,000-80,000.

Another Nakashima piece featured is a “Minguren I” coffee table, that has an oval table top made of Oregon myrtle and American black walnut—referencing Nakashima’s upbringing in the Pacific Northwest but constructed in his longtime Pennsylvania-based studio (Lot 5; estimate: $30,000-50,000). 

“With an impressive concentration of these works, Select Design is an unmissable auction for serious collectors of Nakashima,” said Andreadis.

Another piece featured in the auction was a wrought iron firescreen for R.T. Walder, made by Samuel Yellin in 1929, is another highlight of Select Design (Lot 19; estimate: $40,000-60,000). The screen’s construction and design stands apart from other known Yellin examples, notably the fairly delicate gauge of iron (not greater than ¼ inch throughout) and a striking silhouetting of the design in two dimensions. The U-shaped structure frames a zoomorphic design of twin dragon head terminals with flared nostrils, raised above a pair of four-claw feet. 

This select auction featured a number of notable 20th-century designs, including a five-piece “Tea and Coffee Piazza” set, designed by Michael Graves and commissioned and produced by Alessi (Lot 16; estimate: $15,000-25,000); a Tiffany Studios “Peacock” mirror, circa 1905 (Lot 14; estimate: $10,000-15,000); and furniture and statement pieces by Paul Evans, June Schwarcz, Vladimir Kagan, and Claude Conover.

Since 1805, Freeman’s has helped generations of clients in the buying and selling of fine and decorative arts, jewelry, design, and more. 

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William Sampson

William Sampson is a lifelong woodworker, and he has been an advocate for small-scale entrepreneurs and lean manufacturing since the 1980s. He was the editor of Fine Woodworking magazine in the early 1990s and founded WoodshopBusiness magazine, which he eventually sold and merged with CabinetMaker magazine. He helped found the Cabinet Makers Association in 1998 and was its first executive director. Today, as editor of FDMC magazine he has more than 20 years experience covering the professional woodworking industry. His popular "In the Shop" tool reviews and videos appear monthly in FDMC.