Tips when Purchasing Eames Vintage Furniture

What you should think about when wanting to buy original Eames?

It makes sense that you before you buy a classic vintage piece you make sure that it is actually a classic vintage piece. There’s nothing more embarrassing than spending your well earned cash on something that is later discovered to be a fake. So what should you look for? How do you make sure that you are buying the genuine article?

It makes sense that anything that is original, unique and of quality is likely to be followed shortly after by an imitation. This is the case certainly with the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman.

These tips should help:

  • Make sure that you study the shape and style carefully before you purchase. Remember that the original does not recline when you sit in it, it is already low and fixed in that position so, if you sit down and the chair reclines, you know you have a knock-off.
  • The armrests have also been altered in copies. They don’t use as much leather when they cover and the curve is different or non-existent.
  • Check the description of the fabric and check other materials that are used — there is no PVC used or faux leather with Eames furniture. The leather description should be Italian (not Italian style) and make sure that if you speak to the vender this is confirmed. Make sure that the bases are die-cast aluminium. This is where the molten metal is forced into a mould cavity. The fakes might contain some metal but they can sometimes be connected using plastic which isn’t up to the job. The shock mount should be made of rubber and the only screws you should be able to see are the ones on the braces of the back shell.   
  • Eames items should arrive with you pre-assembled or at minimum mostly assembled — we are not shopping from Ikea (other furniture manufacturers are available).
  • One of the rare and collectable features of the Eames Lounge Chair is that multiple layers of real wood veneer are used, this means that each chair has an individuality. If you are looking at chairs that all have the same grain it’s possible that they are trying to fob you off with a generic laminate.
  • Make sure that the seller is not duping you by advertising more than one item in a picture but actually only really selling one — this is a mistake easily made by the keen shopper on the hunt for a vintage gem on a bargain budget. We guess this is just plain old common sense but it’s worth saying.
  • This tip isn’t really relevant to your purchasing decision but may help you lengthen the life of your newly prized possession. It is worth, especially in the Eames Lounge Chair, to have a look at the quality of the shock mounts. If it’s a true vintage item (and this tip might actually help you verify it’s age) it’s possible that the glue has become less strong over time. Let’s be honest they’ve been around for a long time and last a lot longer that some tat produced today. But consider looking at the joints and mounts in the sale room or ask for close up pictures, these might be worth replacing by a quality furnisher to make sure you give the piece more quality years of service.

      Remember anything that is brilliant is likely to be copied. Sometimes the price tags will unfairly dupe you as they are trying to sell you a fake. Other times they might be close in design but it’s still not the real thing. With the latter, you have to decide how much you want the real thing and how much effort you’re willing to put in to make sure that you have it.

      If you want to make sure you have a bonafide vintage classic make sure that you are willing to put in the graft and by that we mean, have a conversation with the seller and if you can have a look at the piece yourself or send someone with a keen eye along to make sure you’re not embarrassed in the long run.

      Photos by Faye Hedges