Eames chairs are long-standing favorites among aficionados of mid-century modern design. The classic lines, innovative manufacturing techniques, and intrinsically handsome materials combine to make even old or used chairs desirable. But how do you evaluate a vintage Eames chair before purchase? Knock offs and FrankenEames abound!
Eames Institute's Daniel Ostroff tells the ins and outs, what to look for, and what to avoid. The FrankenEames, made of parts of several chairs, is a particular menace–especially in Europe.
"As a collector, you want to find pieces that have their original bases, and there are some small details that can help you verify this, like the condition of the screws in the base. A shiny screw is suspicious. Invest in a small flashlight-size UV light. You can shine it on an antique, which should have a consistent glow to it. If, in UV light, one part or another glows brightly in contrast to the rest of the design, that bright glow is probably an indication of a repair or replacement part. Other details are helpful in confirming authenticity: collectors have learned which chair leg glides are consistent with which era of chair manufacturing, for instance. With fiberglass chairs or molded plywood chairs, collectors will look closely at the shock mounts on the underside, because you can tell if the mounts are original and which base was originally married to that chair. If the shock mounts are dented in such a way that indicates it was once a stacking chair, and someone has put it on a rocking base, I would call that a Frankenstein chair, and I'd stay away from it.
A word of warning:you may also need a UV flashlight.