Fairy Tail Furniture for Grandma’s Mashup
What a great chair to read to read your lovely little terrors a very scary bed time story. I was helping my great friend Tim Donn of TC Woodcrafers pick up some furniture for his restoration business and this blew me away. Satyr mask on the top rail, American Empire scrolled arm that turns into an Egyptian hoof back leg. Queen Anne Seat and Cabriole legs and leg stretcher that could have inspired Finn Juhl. Probably made by the Stomps Burkhard Chair Company of Dayton Ohio. 1859-1928.
The Full Nelson. George Nelson’s Gate Leg Dining #4656 for Herman Miller.
George Nelson Dining Table #4656 for Herman Miller restored by TC Woodcrafters.
George Nelson’s gate leg dining table #4656 was designed for the Herman Miller Company in 1946. The table illustrated was recently restored by my friends at Tim and Anne Donn at TC Woodcrafters in Traverse City Michigan. Woodcrafters beautifully restored the finish and damages that occurred from normal use. The table was produced from 1947-1960 and is shown in American Walnut. It was also manufactured in South American Prima Vera solids and veneers. The underside of the table top is stamped with #17. It is unclear if this a factory “batch” number or the 17th table produced.
This type of table gate leg table converting from a console table to a dining table borrows from traditional designs as far back as the 17th century Jacobean period. The table stylistic departure from traditional furniture as well as Nelson’s design accentuating the joints function into a design detail is unique in American mass produced casegoods of this period. The top featuring large notched style rule joint “knuckle joint” creates a beautiful interlocking pattern across the width of the top. The more refined rule joint with hidden hinges would have been the only acceptable method traditionally used on high-quality furniture. Here Nelson makes a feature of the joint on both top and the gate leg supports. More research needs to be done to see if Nelson borrowed this technique from Danish cabinetmakers or this construction detail unique to his work. This type of exposed knuckle joint was later widely adopted on dining tables by American Craft Furniture makers in the 1970’s. The Nelson table #4656 is in the permanent collection of the Vitra Design Musem in Germany. Dimensions H. 29.5″, W. 18.5″ – 65″ D.40″
The dining table was one of Nelson’s very early designs for Herman Miller. He was appointed the company’s first Director of Design in 1945. Max Depree the president of Herman Miller sought out George Nelson after the death of the great American designer Gilbert Rohde in 1944. Note: click on images to enlarge.
Nelson Table fully open
Underside of top showing spring catches to hold the legs in place when the table is closed
Nelson Table with hinge detail along edge of leaf
Top stamped #17. Hinge knuckle detail for drop leaf. A wire rod runs the width of the table to act as a hinge pin. A wood block is glued in to fix it in place.
Gate leg joint detail on center pedestal
Detail of typical rule joint construction used on traditional furniture
Iconic George Nelson and Irving Harper Marshmallow Sofa
George Nelson & Irving Harper Double Marshmallow Sofa for Herman Miller Circa. 1956. Photo: Wright Auctions Chicago. Sale date May 19, 2015
I am currently researching an early George Nelson Drop Leaf Dining Table for Herman Miller circa. 1946. My friends at T C Woodcrafters in Traverse City are currently restoring the table for a client. During my search, I came across this mind-blowing Wright Auction Design Masterworks sale May 19, 2015, featuring a rare double Marshmallow Sofa by George Nelson & Irving Harper with upholstery hues by Alexander Girard. The double sofa illustrated is 104″ w x 31″ d x 31h. The original designed in 1956 was scaled at 52″width. Only 186 were produced by Herman Miller and design was not a commercial success. The piece illustrated sold for and absolutely amazing price of $112,500 in the 2015 sale.
Finn Juhl Dining Table FJ44 c 1944. Sold at Phillips London April 27, 2016 for $98,500.00. Cabinet maker Niels Vodder. One of 12 made. Phillps describes the one sold as in Cuban Mahogany and painted. The other FJ44 description I found was in Teak and Formica. Two versions are shown. Really interesting piece and important Mid-Century Modern design.