A guide to collecting works of George and Mira Nakashima from the head of Freeman’s 20th Century Design Department, Tim Andreadis. The first tip in this helpful guide is about the different kinds of signatures found on Nakashima furniture.
Tip 1: Determining Authenticity
George Nakashima produced furniture at his New Hope, Pennsylvania studio beginning in 1943 through to his death in 1990, when the torch was passed to his daughter Mira who has run the studio since. Throughout the 1950s and 60s, George became increasingly well-known, as curious intellectuals and young couples flocked to his studio along Aquetong Road, to discover “that New Hope woodworker” for themselves. Nakashima approached his woodworking with a precision, informed by his training as an architect, and a spirituality that drew on both eastern and western religious philosophies.
Nakashima famously called himself the world’s first hippie and as such, believed that the simplicity and natural majesty of his work should speak for itself. It needed no signature or evidence of human hand, because the once-living-organism with whom we share this planet, the tree, had its own story to tell. Therefore, early works by Nakashima will often be found without his signature. They may, however, bear the surname of the original owner, signed in black marker underneath a chair seat or table top. Miriam Nakashima, George’s wife, kept excellent records of these orders, which are today alphabetized and easily referenced by the studio to establish history of ownership and authenticity.
As Nakashima’s status as a master woodworker rose in the 1960s and 70s, clients frequently asked George to sign the work himself. Fewer than half of the works produced during this period will bear his signature in black India ink.
By the 1980s, signing works was more or less common practice at the studio, a tradition that continues today by Mira Nakashima who signs and dates every piece of furniture.
At the time of George Nakashima’s death in 1990, dozens of furniture orders designed by him were left unfilled. These works, produced from approximately 1991 to 1993, will sometimes be signed “Nakashima” only, attesting to the fact that both George and Mira, along with the half dozen artisans at George Nakashima Woodworker, were involved in its creation.
Wondering if your furniture is from Nakashima’s Studio? Have our 20th Century Design Specialist, Tim Andreadis take a closer look, it could be worth more than you think! Stay tuned for more helpful tips on Pennsylvania’s premier craftsman, Nakashima.
George Nakashima (American, 1905-1990). Lounge Chair, New Hope Pennsylvania, 1970. (Sold For $3,770)
George (American, 1905-1990) and Mira (American, B. 1942) Nakashima. Custom Minguren Coffee Table, New Hope, Pennsylvania, 1989/1999 (Sold For $20,000)
George (American, 1905-1990) and Mira (American, B. 1942) Nakashima. Special Conoid Room Divider, New Hope, Pennsylvania, 1989/1999 (Sold for $59,375)
Mira Nakashima (American, B. 1942) Special Wepman Side Table, New Hope, Pennsylvania, 1990. (Sold for $4,225)