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Are some older Eames shells suppose to have a painted back?

- 01 Dec 2015 -
14 posts / 0 new

I recently bought this Eames shell for for $25 and did my best to bring it back to life. At first I wondered who the heck would paint the back brown, but I recently saw another one at a store with the same paint job. They are both early era with no stamp on the bottom. Unfortunately the labels have been lost.

Are some older Eames shells suppose to have a painted back?
chairs & stools


- 01 Dec 2015

Thanks. Hmmm.. seems weird as I don't think this one was ever upolstered. But some of those others have the same paint job.

- 01 Dec 2015

if the shock mounts are painted then its prob been spray painted.

beautiful color

- 01 Dec 2015

That's what I thought too about the shock mounts, but I've seen this on others consistently . Hmm

- 01 Dec 2015

Is this a random tinyarmada reference, or is tinyarmada now toomanychairs?

- 01 Dec 2015

Random. I'm just me.

I do have an armada of chairs, though. Does that count?

- 01 Dec 2015

Too bad. I miss tinyarmada's posts. I believe it was a tag-team account.

- 03 Dec 2015

If you have access to the 1955/56 Herman Miller catalog (either original copy or the 1998 reprint), the section on the upholstered fiberglass armchair has a notation saying that all versions with dark color upholstery in fabric or vinyl will have a black painted applied paint finish at the back while the others with light color upholstery will have an applied beige paint finish.

The examples you have are definitely not consistent with a factory applied paint finish.

- 03 Dec 2015


That's funny, I was just thinking that Joshua's examples were VERY typical of the several upholstered shells that I have seen over 25 years or so. Right down to the painted shock mounts! (I have this same catalog, but it didn't make me feel like Joshua's were any different) Up close, the lighter ones look like a "fleck stone" or fake granite type of surface.

It might be possible that from year to year the treatments to the back changed a bit?

Also, it is worth noting that there are many early arm shells (upholstered in the same manner) that were not painted on the back at all.

- 18 Dec 2017

After 7 years of collecting, I recently acquired my first Eames piece, a side shell swivel desk chair. Based on the millions of Eames threads I’ve read on DA, here is my attempt at a detailed ID:

Model: PSCC, pivoting side cast castors
Contract base
Parchment color
Only marking underneath is a backwards “Z”, indicating a Zenith-made shell. Backwards Z with 3 dots seems to mean 3rd gen Zenith. Mine does not have 3 dots, but maybe it is also 3rd gen. I believe that would date it to mid-to-late 50’s.
The back is painted battleship gray, including paint over the shock mounts. The majority opinion of threads I’ve read notes this would be original back paint, used for upholstered shells. Since there are no holes in the shell. The upholstery might have been the slip cover with wire underneath.

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