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GW/mk set 12/4 #359411

PHILADELPHIA, PENN. — Freeman’s Sunday, November 18 sale of 20th Century Design ultimately may have been as much about Thomas Takubo, Dr Steven Fried and Norman Faber as it was about George Nakashima. While the authenticity of the 23 Nakashima pieces in the sale was never in doubt, it was the ability for buyers to attach the pieces directly to those who had commissioned them that lent the added level of security required in order for top prices to be achieved.

Headlining the sale were the contents from the Manhattan home of the late Thomas Takubo, who worked directly with Nakashima over a number of years beginning in 1966 to furnish his Upper East Side co-op.

Also helping to feed the buying fervor surrounding the Takubo lots were a series of rare drawings executed by Nakashima detailing his design of several individual pieces and his vision of the layout for the apartment.

All items in the Takubo collection achieved prices at or above their low estimate, with standouts including a George Nakashima walnut Conoid end table with figured pentagonal top on a cross-legged base (est $1,500/2,000), that sold for $4,312; a George Nakashima black walnut desk ($3/5,000), that sold for $7,187; and a George Nakashima black walnut credenza with simple rectangular case enclosing three sliding doors with vertical grillwork and grass cloth backing, all on a bracketed based, series of adjustable shelves to interior ($6/8,000) that sold for $16,100.

A George Nakashima floor lamp with square shade, having grid panel alternating with asa-no-ha panels on a solid plank with cross-plank base ($6/8,000) sold for $11,500; a George Nakashima walnut end table with sculptural English burl minguren base ($6/8,000) sold for $13,800; and a George Nakashima cabinet, the case of Persian walnut with twin rosewood doors joined by a burled maple pull, enclosing two adjustable shelves, all on a bracketed base, signed in black marker “George Nakashima, April 1984” ($6/8,000) sold for $21,850.

The top of the day, however, emerged from the collection of Frank Borden, who made a propitious trip to an event held by Freeman’s at the Merion Cricket Club. The piece he brought to the attention of Freeman’s appraisers was a Nakashima English burl walnut side table with a very distinctive underside that was valued at between $6,000 and $8,000, but just days before the sale specialist Jim Buckley discovered that the piece had been commissioned from Nakashima by Dr Paul Fried helped lift the price to $16,100.

The same collector commissioned the star of the day from Nakashima – an English oak Conoid dining table with free-edge top of burled oak and three butterfly joints on a cross-legged base.

The table excited intense bidding both from the standing room only crowd and the outside bidders on the phone and online, resulting in a final price of $37,375 – more than quadrupling the low estimate.

The walnut day bed enclosing a tatumi mat, commissioned for Norman Faber in 1958 brought a final price of $8,050, almost triple the low estimate of $3,000.

Extremely strong underbidding from eBay live auction typified the early sections of the auction, in which smaller decorative arts and lighting were sold, but the majority of lots went to bidders in the room or on the phone.

A Loetz silver overlay glass vase estimated at $1,000 to $1,500 sold in the room for $2,645 as the day’s second lot, followed soon thereafter by a Lalique crystal vase that sold for $1,610 ($300/500). A Gino Sarfatti Triennale floor lamp for Arteluce made in 1957 performed extremely well at $4,025 ($1/1,500).

A David Andersen sterling silver flatware set kicked off the jewelry and silver section with a winning bid of $1,264 ($200/400). Good prices for Georg Jensen sterling silver included a sterling silver choker that sold for $1,150 ($200/300).

Leading into the Nakashima lots at the end of the sale, the general furniture section included a pair of Art Nouveau sofas that sold for $2,070 ($400/600); a French Art Deco parlor suite that sold for $4,60 ($800/1,200); and a De Sede leather lounge chair and ottoman that sold for $1,495 ($200/300).

In addition, a Frank Lloyd Wright for Henredon mahogany triple dresser sold to an online bidder for $4,312 ($800/1,200).

Freeman’s next Twentieth Century Design sale is scheduled for May. For information, 215-563-9275 extension 3021.

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