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How to tell Fake from Real

- 18 Jul 2006 -
75 posts / 0 new

without getting into the debate about WHY buy an authorized reissue vs a knock off, does anyone have resources for HOW to tell one from the other? Specifically with the Eames Lounge. A millions copies made - are there characteristics besides the HM label that differentiate? Any sure fire ways to know before purchasing?


- 18 Jul 2006

> Any sure fire ways to know before purchasing?

Well, the sure-fire way would be to have a manifest showing the chain of ownership, and the original purchase reciept.

- 18 Jul 2006

Where is the value?
It's an interesting debate as to where the value is held when the "copy" is of an equal (and occasionally, higher) qulaity to the "original" ...

- 18 Jul 2006

When copies are superior to the original...
That raises an interesting question: Are there cases where a reproduction is superior to the original?

- 18 Jul 2006

Corbusier LC2 and LC3 sofas and chairs
...Immediately spring to mind. There are many "knockoffs" of better construction and materials than the Cassina authorized versions...

- 18 Jul 2006

No no no....
Okay... I understand that there are many questions about repros vs reissues. My question is more about... how does the average person (without being a seasoned collector) figure out if the lounge chair in the flea market (or on Ebay) is an actual Eames chair, or a plycraft, or one of the myriad other copies. Did ALL the Herman Miller lounge chairs have the five star base? Were ALL the HM chairs upholstered in leather? was pleather ever offered? These are the kinds of tips I'm interested in. (and if there are resources I'd love to find them)
Whether a repro is better constructed than the original is an entirely different question.

- 19 Jul 2006

Eames repros
Plycraft lounge chairs are definitely NOT superior in quality to the Eames Lounge Chair.

- 19 Jul 2006

a simple answer
know your shit. sorry to be crass, but do your research and know every detail. that's how most people get good deals. know what an item is when others don't. and the only way to do it is to know. look at as many detailed photographs and read about your item of interest. there is no such thing as an authenticity radar.

- 19 Jul 2006

Crass or not, a good...

Crass or not, a good answer.

I for one never spend more than five hundred dollars for anything I see online, no matter how sure I am it's authentic... the bottom line is, unless you're looking at the piece in person, documents can be faked, closeup photos of labels can be from different pieces... it's a crap shoot.

As far as buying in person goes, know your stuff- that simple.

As far as quality goes, are you concerned with beautiful design and durbaility/usability or beautiful design and a label? If I wanted, say, an Eames lounger and I found an Authentic in terrible shape for a thousand and a high-end knock-off in like-new condition for 500... I'd go with the knock-off.

- 19 Jul 2006

Sounds like
nobody (so far) is able to specify a few definite details that would identify an Eames lounger from "the competition." I'm no expert; isn't the five-star base always found on the HM product (and may be on some copies as well) ? What about upholstery materials ? Any reliable labelling on the HM ?

- 19 Jul 2006

whitespike is right
there is no such thing as authenticity radar; your own judgment counts. It might take a while to be a collector, but as i am concerned 40% of what i buy is mentionned vintage authentic but infact happens to be knockoffs or reissues or in the manner of. Do not worry that much about it, even auction certified items can be
sold as original but are just copies.
One other thing, if you want to collect true vintage items you have to combine both the detective and the hunter's skills.
The only difference is, that when white siberian tigers will be totally extinguished, you won't go hunting fake ones, this makes a difference with design items: billions of them are design chimeres. Good luck.

- 19 Jul 2006

Eames vs. Plycraft & Selig So far I've bought four Eames lounge chair knockoffs at auction, labeled either Plycraft or Selig or not labeled at all. I've also seen the real thing in shops. The differences are easy to spot. The knockoffs all have screws and bolts showing on the outside. The armrests are either a single horizontal platform or they have the curved shape of the Eames armrests but are upholstered by just wrapping the leather around to the underside (no welt and no separate piece around the edge). I think the ottoman is smaller too, but the other differences are so easy to spot that I have never bothered to compare dimensions on the ottomans. I don't even look at the bases, either, though there are differences there. I've looked at a lot of other knockoffs of various iconic pieces and I've found that the differences are mostly very obvious once you know what to look for. A leg will have a different taper, hardware will show, proportions will be different, upholstery details will differ. That Hans Wegner folding chair with the woven rattan seat and back has been widely copied. Some were made in Yugoslavia and most done with fiber rush or cord (not rattan) and all with slightly different shaping of the edges of the frames and the handles on the seat. The wood is rarely as nice Wegner's and the finish is usually a glossy lacquer or varnish, not oil. Just look carefully and pay attention and pretty soon you'll know the real thing well enough to spot the fakes. That is a Plycraft chair with the cheap platform armrests. I reupholstered the chair but didn't change their design. Notice the kind of cheese base, too. And visible screws and bolts on the sides. Next is a Selig chair that I have since reupholstered. It has a heavier base that looks nicer but still has the exposed bolts. Note the really cheezy looking armrests! I redid them in the style of the Eames chair.

- 19 Jul 2006

and the award goes to..SPANKY!
Thanks so much spanky. I've noticed some of the bolts on some chair arms. I figured some of them might amount to poor repair jobs. The edging around the armrests is a great help, as are the different base styles. With SO MANY Eames imitators out there its hard to know what you're looking at...especially on the web. I've requested the lounge chair book from my library but they havent obtained a copy yet. In the meantime I've been going back over old posts here.
It is very helpful and important to accurately know what you're dealing with. As example - a Plycraft was listed on a local message board as an Eames. When it was pointed out to the seller he dramatically dropped the price. (ethics are not dead)
When I first got into modern design I had NO idea which way was up - the collective experience of this community/message board far supersedes the knowledge I will get just reading books and websites, and I'm really grateful for that.

- 19 Jul 2006

i may be wrong but
it seems you don't have as much to worry about when buying vintage knock-offs. so many are so far from original looking it is easy to decifer. i have never personally seen a vintage knock-off that looks even close. the new ones are what's scary. i know my stuff, but i found a copy in new orleans that was manufactured in the last 10 years. i had to ask the store owner if it was herman miller.

- 24 Jul 2006

No Eames Lounge Has A Tilt Mechanism
That's the easiest way... squat down and look for the spring tilt doohickey thing on the bottom.

If it's there-then it isn't a genuine.

- 27 Jul 2006

The arms give it away?
Found this post on a design blog about spotting the 670 in Adam Sandler's new movie Click. The author says he recognized the chair by the arms... but take a closer look at the pics. lol.

Edited by DA: Broken link removed

- 27 Jul 2006

That's so funny!

That's the same chair I have, by the way. My current one, I mean.

- 27 Jul 2006

The Aarnio ball chair is ...
The Aarnio ball chair is very annoying and the Eames chaise . I would never buy these now , because of all the copies. Generally the price tells the story or real vs fakes , but snakes try to pass off copies at high prices sometimes......beware
Know your mod

- 15 Aug 2006

Please tell me who sells them!
"Corbusier LC2 and LC3 sofas and chairs
...Immediately spring to mind. There are many "knockoffs" of better construction and materials than the Cassina authorized versions..."
posted by decoboy

I don't think that Cassina's quality mathes their prices as I've written in this Forum before.
And they're not interested at all to supply their customers with new better parts than they delivered from the beginning. It's cheaper to buy a new LC2 than to buy new cushions for an old one.
And it's much cheaper to buy a complete new LC2 armchair from another manufacturer than to buy just the covers from Cassina. If they're selling them at all.
I asked their authorised dealer in Stockholm for the price on covers for my old armchairs and haven't got any answer yet - after three months!
So I would surely like to know who makes the "knockoffs" that you are refering to.
Tthank you.

- 15 Aug 2006

Eames majik
its funny to read this stuff, you know why? A lot of brain power goes into figuring can one buy a fake piece of functional art to look so close to the real deal? Why do you care? If your buying a fake, buy it because it is a fake and you don't mind that it is fake for better or worse, don't buy it to play Tom Foolery with yourself and your guests. Why by something fake to be looked upon as real? A fake piece trying to look real, is still a fake no matter how you slice it. The only person your fooling is your friends. Your not fooling yourself because you know its fake either way.

This sounds like blabber but its a point.

- 15 Aug 2006

To answer your question.

When in doubt, don't buy it unless your 100% sure your going to happy with your purchase, bottom line.

Otherwise, buy new. Let yourself do the "Vintaging."

One can spend all day spouting out construction details To an Eames Lounger down to the fiber and the cow it came off of. Either way, its the Eye of the beholder that has to live with it.

I mean what do you want us to say? There are good ripoffs out there as much as con artists turning tricks.

Get a magnified glass and a fine toothed comb and scrutinize it till you talk yourself out of buying it and move on.

- 16 Aug 2006

I originally posted this question because i hadnt had a lot of experience with the 670 and I wanted to know some tips about purchasing a used one. For example - $500 is a heck of a price for an authentic 670, but in the higher range for a Plycraft version. Something like the tilt mechanism is a great way to know you're dealing with a vintage fake - especially if you havent gotten too close to an authentic Eames chair.
In the end I bought a Plycraft version because it does look nice, was cheap, and is comfortable. And I would never attempt to 'pass' it for the real thing. Thats just deceptive, and will only bring bad karma. :-D

- 16 Aug 2006

hire a consultant
If you enjoy finding the answers yourself, you will find it yourself. And you will realize that the imperfect knowledge of an expert is hard to come by. The alternative is to buy the imperfect knowledge from the experts for 20 - 30% and oila you have the answers, the thing itself and all that time you would have spent asking and searching.

- 16 Aug 2006

KARMA.......please give it up!
hey everybody in the world, please stop using "karma" as your new age buzz word to justify or not justify your actions.
if you take a modernist point of view, personal example in action is more a free will choice along with it's consequences. we need to stop atatching "karma", or any religious buzzwords to our actions. i'm sick of it! how the hell did karl rove make it to designaddict!
i am both my actions and thoughts.......and are you!
karma along with karl roveism........RIP

with all due respect, and sorry in advance.

- 18 Aug 2006

maybe Im missing something
How is Karl Rove connected to karma?

- 19 Aug 2006

Mario - I'll see your rant, and raise you an explanation
Some notes about your posting on karma.

1) Im not sure Karl Rove has anything to do with karma, or would even know what the word means.

2) the english language is a broad and complex thing. Specific words are chosen to most adequately convey an idea or concept.

3) Please take the time to research something before blindly ranting away about it. In this case both Karl Rove AND karma.

The idea of karma can best be expressed by the first stanza of the Dhammapada (a book of Buddhist teaching) It simply states: If one speaks or acts with a corrupt mind, suffering follows.

And yes, it is a religious concept, but it is hardly new age. It is also misguided to think of Buddhism as a religion in the same manner as Catholocism or Islam. While Buddhism has deities and demons, its main focus is on the individual and his/her actions. There is no punishment brought down from an angry god - only the suffering caused by misdeed. It is not punishment - only cause and effect- seemingly in line with your 'modernist pov'.

To speak of someone as having bad karma doesnt mean that some unseen GOD will punish them. Karma is the internalization of bad deeds. Example:

" A man accidentally kills a person. He does not tell anyone. The guilt of his action causes him stress. The stress causes him to have a heart attack."

Of course this is an extreme example. Perhaps if I put it in an old fashioned term "what goes around comes around"...thats karma, more or less.

As a general adherent of Bhuddist tenets I did take offense at your comment. Your apology is accepted, in advance.

- 20 Aug 2006

good explaination/defence!
very well articulated points. i now appreciate your point of view, thank you. you must forgive us satanists as we sometimes have a need to kick up the dust a little. i trust no harm was done.

please know i have sufficient insurance in the case we may have a karma crash in the future.

happiness everywhere!

- 15 Feb 2010

Is this the real thing?
I found a Eames lounge chair seat without the base. It looks like a fake but I would like the forum's expertise.

And by the way, how much is the base for the chair when bought separately?

- 15 Feb 2010

This thread may highlight...
This thread may highlight that Karl Rove might have much to do with karma, even though he may not know what the word means.

- 15 Feb 2010

If you remove the cushions...
If you remove the cushions and take a picture of the cushion backs as well as the clips that hold the cushions to the shells, a lot of people on here will imediately be able to identify it as a knock off or not.

My first reaction to the photos is that the armrests look wrong, the shells look too thick and are not rounded off on the edge.

- 15 Feb 2010

A few images more
Hi everybody and thank you for the replies. Obviously this 4 year old thread brought back memories for some people. I'll add a few more images to see if we can shed some light on the origin.

I haven't bought the chair yet and these are the seller's photos. Just trying to make up my mind.

- 15 Feb 2010

It's weird-
The leather looks much newer than the wood and yes,the armrests are way too thick.I must say,the shells look kinda correct to me.

- 15 Feb 2010

Looks like a recent production in dark cherry to me...
But I wouldn't take my word for it.

You're welcome.

I guess.

- 15 Feb 2010

Yes,I agree
Cherry indeed,but it makes you wonder how a base gets separated?

- 16 Feb 2010

Full Circle
Wow... hard to imagine that was me writing the initial post way back when.

As to the new chair in question, absolutely fake. A local knock-off store has this copy. At a glance it is a decent copy in terms of most details, but the proportions are wrong, the leather is wrong, and the woodgrain is wrong. And my guess would be the base is gone because that's the biggest give-a-way on this copy.

The wood is not actually cherry - it is ash with a cherry stain. Cherry tends to much tighter grain, with very little texture. And the new production HermanMiller/Vitra chairs are almost glass smooth, with no physical wood texture.

Armrests are way too thick, and the photo of the screws shows them at the wrong angle - going perpendicular into the underside of the pads, vs at a diagonal on the authentic chairs.

And almost missed it in the photos, but if you look closely there is a metal brace tucked under the armrests holding the back shell to the base.

The chair below shows the same coarse grained wood, the same thick armrests, and the faux base - and you can see why it's missing...

- 16 Feb 2010

Stay away.
It's fake. And not cherry. Maybe ash with a cherry colored stain.

*edit* sorry LuciferSum, I should read what others say before injecting my (redundant) opinion.

- 16 Feb 2010

Fake it is then...
I didn't get the photos of the the screws.

- 16 Feb 2010

Thank you!
Thank you all for your expertise. I will keep my distance on this one and save my money for the real thing.

I hope this helps others in determining Eames authenticity as well.

- 22 Feb 2010

Material & Design = FEEL
Haven't posted much recently, but to those who know me, I don't buy retail or wholesale. This, of course, invites risk.

There are some good points in this thread. The reality is that you have to be smarter than the person you are buying from. They call it asymmetric information. But that is just fancy talk for knowing more than the other person.

That said, the difference between fake and authentic usually comes down to two things, Material and design.

When Arne designed a chair, he did not skimp on material. The solid aluminum base (will not rust, is not chrome so will not peel). The fact that you can "spin" in an egg chair at least 10 times without touching the ground. If there is wood, what type is it? Pine = crap in most instances. redwood? Cherry? walnut? Now we are talking.
FABRIC: An original will have the touch. All wool? good! All polyester? good luck.
That said, some materials chosen 50 years ago ended up not holding up to the test of time. Specifically with modern furniture and filling. Basically, if you find a chair that has a crusty, crispy filling, it "feels" cheap. It can also be an indicator of authenticity.
I laughed at the Ikea knock off of the LCW. That is ridiculous! Not even close.
Do you feel comfortable in it? Is the seat height right? Don't forget, designers were focused on conforming the chair to human form, not conforming the human to the chair. A big give away.
Last but not least. An older wood will have a patina. Even the bent plywood. The fabric will show wear.

Last but not least....READ....the internet is crap. Everyone borrows from everyone else. There is this thing called a library. There are also pamphlets/literature.

I will now step off the box...sorry for the rant.
I will now step down....sorry for the rant.

- 23 Feb 2010

jef your chair is authentic
i can see a hint of a zipper hiding behind the leather piping. fakes would just staple the piping to the leather. i have had a fake and sat on the real one. i see no distinct difference, they're all comfortable. but if you have that tendency to recline to relax, go with a repro because the real one does not recline. what scares me nowadays are the fakes made in china, they have copied the original up to the minute detail, the only difference is the leather and cushion. just my 2 cents.

- 23 Feb 2010

sorry jef it's a fake. didn't see the screws.

- 23 Feb 2010

Yea, I still wanna see the...
Yea, I still wanna see the Ikea LCWs! Particleboard DMCs? HA!

- 26 Jul 2010

The wood
A real eames lounge 670 has 7 layers of wood, it has never changed over the years
i counted yours it has 8, im sorry this isnt a herman miller version, also the armrests are far to thick.

- 26 Jul 2010

not exactly
Herman Miller used 5 layers of plywood on the early rosewood chairs. Newer HM production use 7 layers.

This chair however is still a fake.

- 26 Jul 2010

All plywood
has an odd number of layers -- 3,5,7,9 etc. This is the only way for the two outer layers to have grain running in the same direction.

- 26 Jul 2010

The lounge chair used to be available in naugahyde and fabric as well, at least the original HM licensed European version was.

- 31 Jul 2010

Plycraft or Eames?
I'm selling this for $200 tomorrow morning. I usually collect and sell electronics. I'm out of my league here. I believe it's a Plycraft. It does have the 5 star base on the chair. It at one time had a label on the bottom that has since been removed. It has a tilt mechanism. I believe. The ottoman base has 4 star. Help dudes! It's a plycraft right?


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