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- 20 Feb 2009

At a variety
at a variety of different locations. Herman Miller contracted out the manufacture of the shells to many companies over their lifespan. I don't know them all.

Zenith Plastics - earliest - identifiable with a checkerboard logo.

Cincinatti Milicron - ID is a crescent C with a star.

Summits Plastic in Kalamazoo, MI - ID is a pair of triangles overlapping each other (NOT the Herman Miller logo) S or an S with a circle around it.

Vitra, Germany/Switzerland has current production. They are polypropelene and stamped Vitra.

There is also another logo I've seen, but been unable to ID - a pair of flames embossed on the bottom.

- 03 Mar 2009

LuciferSum - do you know...??
Do you know when Vitra started manufacturing the fiberglass chairs with license from Herman Miller and when they actually bought european rights for the complete Herman Miller / Eames collection??

- 03 Mar 2009

58 and 2001
In 58 Vitra contracted with Herman Miller and the Eames to produce Eames designs in Europe. In 1993 both companies discontinued the fiberglass production, and it wasn't until 2003 that the polypropylene versions came out.

- 12 Mar 2009

Here's one for you, Lucifer...
Never come across this stamp before. It quite legibly reads 'Zenith' at the top of the circle with a '2' in the middle. The bottom letters are tougher to make out. But the first letter is a 'P', so I'm guessing it once read 'Plastics'... Thoughts?

- 12 Mar 2009

On second thought...
Looking at the embossment, the bottom wording beginning with 'P' doesn't look like 'Plastics' at all. I'm pretty sure I'm making out another '2'... Looks like something to the effect of 'PP v 2...'?... Maybe something relegating the chair to a batch possibly?

- 12 Mar 2009

Oh and I guess I would assume the obvious...
But this chair carries the small shockmount variety. So a 2nd gen Zenith wouldn't seem to be the reasonable assumption...

- 12 Mar 2009

Lunchbox
Haven't seen that stamp before. Is it an armshell or a side shell?

Perhaps this is a transitional shell.

- 12 Mar 2009

By the way,
my light blue Vitra polypropylene side chair with the Eifel base sure is rock solidly made and quite sturdy. They might not be original fiberglass, but they did figure out how to make 'em solid.

- 12 Mar 2009

That's what I was wondering, Lucifer...
I should've taken a snapshot of the entire chair. I was so anxious to get the stamp on the forum though. It's an armshell. Handspun fibers. No rope edge. Small shockmounts. Is this possibly the 3rd generation that's so debated? I found it for next to nothing.

- 12 Mar 2009

Anyone else have any idea?
I'm fuzzy on the transitional shells. Anyone else seen this stamp?

- 20 May 2009

the Zenith P stamp
These are your regular Herman Miller shells, would possibly even be a side-shell, something that Zenith Plastics never made; Zenith Prime, and another company, Summit Prime, were very big Herman Miller distributors back in the day and would ink stamp the bottom of the shells that they supplied with the circle and their name in it, exactly your stamp. Hope this helps. Cheers.

- 20 May 2009

Londonboy you've been misinformed. "....would possibly even be a side-shell, something that Zenith Plastics never made." Sorry, but with respect, that is just NOT true. It is a well known and documented fact that Zenith Plastics made side-shells. Plenty of them. To quote the book Eames Design (Neuhart, Eames, page 142): "1950-1953 Plastic Side Chair After the successful adaptation of the stamped metal armchair to plastic, the metal side chair submitted to the "Low-Cost Furniture" competition was developed by the Eames Office for production by Zenith Plastics." Also watch this film (link below) by the Eames Office about the making of fiberglass chairs. You will see many many many sideshells. But the most important thing is the credits at 8.34: "With appreciation to Century Plastics" To quote the book Charles and Ray Eames (Kirkham, Eames, page 234): "Zenith Plastics (now Century Plastics) of Gardena, California, which had used fiberglass during the war, worked in conjunction with the Eameses and with Herman Miller Furniture Company on the new project"

- 20 May 2009

Also
Summit Polymers and Zenith are known to have produced fiberglass for Herman Miller, so I would lean towards these circular stamps as indicating the producer, rather the distribution company.

- 20 May 2009

There seems to be a lot of...
There seems to be a lot of misinformation around the exact production dates of the plastic chairs. Some sources say that the plastic armchair was made my Zenith between 1948-50, others 1949-51 and others even 1950-1952. I think it's safe to say that Zenith produced these chairs at least until 1953 or even 1954. It is strange that there aren't a definite date line available for such a successful product... Maybe that is something for the DA community to work on.

I don't have the Neuhart book, but I do have lots of old magazines...

To me it seems that the plastic armchair was distributed beginning from 1950, then the wire side chair was introduced in the beginning of 1952 and finally the plastic side chair in 1953.

The first image I have found of the plastic side chair is from a Herman Miller ad in Interiors Magazine from October 1953, where it's advertised as the 'NEW molded plastic side chair'. I admit that I miss a few issues from early 1953, so it's possible this is not the very first ad for the chair, even though it does give that impression. The same ad also introduces the upholstered version of the arm chair version.

Like the_beloved states, Zenith did produce the side chairs at the beginning. I have seen the side shell with the early x-base several times and I'm pretty sure that I have seen the 'Zenith' stamp on some of them.

I also have an armshell with the embossed 'Z' in a triangle of three dots, with the small shock mounts, which also confirms that Zenith still produced the plastic chairs, when the use of the large shock mounts were abandoned...

- 20 May 2009

zenith side shells....
perhaps what the dear reader meant was zenith never produced a side shell with rope edge and early "grainy" fibers.

people often use the term "zenith" to describe a shell with both of the above traits, and to my knowledge the side shell came after the rope edge era.

- 20 May 2009

...
-and?

If 'londonboy' is the 'dear reader' you're refering to chewbacca, he actually stated: 'a side-shell, something that Zenith Plastics never made'.

So, why not try to set the record straight? No offense meant to anyone...

- 15 Jun 2009

Eames Shell Logo Help Please
I have two Eames fiberglass shell chairs one a chair one a lounge. The undersides have numbers and a logo I do not know. I believe these are quite old from the early 50's. My Dad hired Charles and Ray to work for him on a project at IBM so they may be from that time..? Any help? How can I post an image to you?

Thanks Tom

- 15 Jun 2009

Zenith sideshells
Zenith plastics did in fact produce the earliest sideshells. I believe they were produced at the same time Zenith was making the "transitional" armshells (those without the rope edge, but the same fiberglass and large shock mounts). They do not have the raised HM logo and the colors and translucency are the same as the armshells and there are differences in the shock mounts from later sideshells. The shock mounts are not large like the armshell, in fact I wonder if it was not the development of the smaller shock mount for the side shell that made HM realize that they could get by with the smaller shock mount for both versions. We have two Zenith sideshells, one parchment on an X base and one lemon yellow on an H base. I'll take photos and post them ASAP.

- 15 Jun 2009

Century Plastics
Century Plastics was founded by SOl Fingerhut, formally of Zenith Plastics. They now make the Modernica Eames chairs.

- 15 Jun 2009

Century Plastics
Zenith Plastics did not become Century Plastics. Zenith was absorbed into a larger company,(3M?)and Zenith employees Irv Green and Sol Fingerhut founded Century Plastics to make the shell chairs from the fifties to the eighties, and then later for Modernica.

- 15 Jun 2009

Sol also
Sol also was the one who developed the integrated plastic shell/shockmounts on the EC127 in 1971. (the same type of attachments now used on the Vitra polyprope chairs)

And he also erroneously attributed a 'prototype' shell chair for Wright20 auctions, which sold for $20,000. (the chair was, in fact, a Canadian vintage knock-off)

So...I'm sure Sol has plenty of haters.

- 15 Jun 2009

Sol FIngerhut
Sol is the engineer who figured out how to actually manufacture the chair. He pioneered the process of molding a fiberglass in a press so it can be thin and smooth on both sides. As far as I know he is the first person to achieve this in mass production. The chair was Eames' design and idea, but Sol made it a reality.

- 15 Jun 2009

well again,
to quote the book Charles and Ray Eames (Kirkham, Eames, page 234):

"Zenith Plastics (now Century Plastics) of Gardena, California, which had used fiberglass during the war, worked in conjunction with the Eameses and with Herman Miller Furniture Company on the new project"

This book was co-written with the Eames. Maybe it was a mistake? It doesn't matter, as it doesn't change the fact that Sol is the center of it all.

- 16 Jun 2009

Shell Logo Question
HI,

Can you look at Craigs List Seattle under furniture and see the two Eames chair and lounge for sale. A picture is provided of the bottom with the numbers and logo. I have not seen this before and wonder if you can ID it?

Thanks,
Tom

- 16 Jun 2009

Yes, Those are the ones. The logo is the same on both chairs, and it's a bit easier to see on one of them.. Thanks for any help.

- 16 Jun 2009

Sorry
The pics are too far away and too grainy to discern anything. Ask for a closeup if you can...

- 16 Jun 2009

Blow up picture of logo ++
Hi,
Yes I have a high res picture of it. How can I send it to you?
Thanks,
Tom

- 16 Jun 2009

e-mail
teapot.d at gmail

I will check it tonight!

- 17 Jun 2009

Summit Prime Logo?
Hi,
So who were Summit Prime, and where would I find information about them..? Thanks for the sleuthing!

- 17 Jun 2009

Summit
They were just one of several manufacturers of shells for Herman Miller. Refer to earlier posts in this thread.

- 02 Nov 2009

Summit rocker - dates?
I just acquired a butterscotch-colored Eames RAR rocker produced by Summit. Does anyone know approximately when Summit started to make the chairs for HM and when they stopped producing them? I am trying to date the chair.

- 10 Dec 2009

Dining side chairs Eames - Zenith?
Hi i have some eames shell chairs that i'm renewing.
And i'd like to know when they're from and who they were built by.

DINING SIDE CHAIRS:
The 4 chairs are yellow / honey

Here are the embossment under the chairs:

HERMAN MILLER + LOGO
"S" in a circle
"Ba"
"Z" between the 2 back shockmounts

STAMPED:
numbers: 026152
"CZ" stamped in a circle

Can someone help on that?
Does the "Z" means Zenith plastics?
I was told that "penetrol" is a good product to renew fiberglass does anyone knows how to use it and if it's really good?

Thanks in advance
R.

- 11 Dec 2009

DINING SIDE CHAIRS EAMES - ZENITH?
Thanks for the answer.
Do you know what the embossed "Z" means?

thanks

Remi

- 03 Jul 2010

R.I.P. Sol Fingerhut
Strange that no one posted this six months ago...

Fingerhut, Sol M.
December 16, 1922 - December 23, 2009

Sol M. Fingerhut (Sonny) was an innovator and pioneer in the composites industry. He was born in Cleveland, Ohio and received his BS in Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering from the Case School of Applied Science (now Case Western Reserve) in 1944. As a young engineer, he developed innovations in fiberglass for an aircraft wing in WWII, an amphibious sea plane, worked in the research labs of Owens-Corning, and invented the fiberglass preform process. He moved to California in 1949 where he developed the process to make molded fiberglass chairs in collaboration with Charles Eames. Sol co-founded Century Plasics in 1966 where he developed innovative composite fiberglass products for the aerospace, wind energy, medical equipment and Homeland Security markets. At the age of 79, Sol invented the lightweight blast resistant cargo container known as the Hardened Unit Load Device (HULD) for commercial aircraft. Sol will be remembered for his courage, wisdom, creativity, integrity, kindness and his generosity to family, friends and employees.

He is survived by Muriel Wels Fingerhut, his wife for 61 years, his children Ellen Fingerhut Whittier and Rick Fingerhut, and his grand-children Daniel and Dina Fingerhut. A scholarship fund will be established at the Case School of Engineering in his honor.

- 12 Aug 2010

so i was told...
to look at this forum to figure out the age of my shell chair, but there hasnt been a single conversation about Cincinatti Milicron on here

(Cincinatti Milicron) what do we know about it? when did it start and end?

thanks

- 12 Aug 2010

dude, did you even search?...
dude, did you even search? or did you just click the link lunchbox gave you? (if that's all you did, stop being lazy) and did you try google? There's enough information on the web. I just did a search on Cincinatti Milicron five minutes ago, so please don't say there's no info online. Eames office is also another great resource. Good luck!

- 12 Aug 2010

I used the search function...
I used the search function provided on this forum and 'milicron' provided several matches.
It's as easy as prying the base off of an Eames shell.

:)

- 04 Sep 2010

Contract shells with no markings...
I've come across a contract color side shell with no markings at all. The only shells I've ever seen devoid of markings are Zenith/Venice productions. But this is the kelly green variety. My heart says authentic but my head says Modernica grass green. So that said, what do you DAers think? And have you seen this before?

- 04 Sep 2010

Modernica
I would think the shell would be stamped Modernica. Also, the shock mounts and epoxy that they use is different.

- 04 Sep 2010

Yeah, but...
I guess my thought was it'd be more probable for Modernica to produce chairs without markings as their quality isn't world renowned. I've seen Herman Miller chairs as early as '51 marked, both embossed and dated.

Have you ever come across one of these with no markings, woody?

- 04 Sep 2010

Hmmm
Definitely not Kelly Green, since that would have likely been made at Cincinnati Milacron (or possibly Summit later). Do you have a photo?

- 05 Sep 2010

Photos... Apologies for the quality. Took a few quick ones with the ole swell phone. Don't mind Bumblebee. He's asleep this time of night. On a serious note, shocks look to have been redone. [broken links]

- 05 Sep 2010

Hmmm
It does not look like a Modernica shell to me, based on the photos. Their shells are quite thick and heavy and do not have as much visible fiber. Also, if I recall correctly, Modernica side shells have the softer turned edge similar to the older Zenith shells.

The color of your shell looks right for HM Kelly Green. If the shock mounts are original, then obviously the shell came from a stacking shell or desk. It is odd that the shell isn't stamped or labeled at all. Have you tried comparing the shell side by side to another vintage one (of any color, to be sure the shapes are identical)?

P.S. Does your shell have the wide mount positions? It looks like I can see some in the back but not the front...??

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