The Wishbone chair and how to spot a replica

, , , , , By Catherine Lazure-Guinard

Widely referred to as the ‘Chair Master’, Wegner is responsible for designing what is arguably one of the most iconic chairs of the modern era. In fact, the Wishbone chair is probably one of Hans J. Wegner’s most celebrated work. We wanted to share with you some info we found in articles from Authentic DesignDanish Design Store and EST Magazine (issue #2) about the famous designer and this classic chair, as well as tips on how to spot a replica from the real deal.

“In 1944, Danish designer Hans Wegner began a series of chairs that were inspired by portraits of Danish merchants sitting in Ming Chairs. One of these chairs was the Wishbone Chair (1949), also known as the ‘Y’ or ‘CH-24’, which has been produced by the Danish firm Carl Hansen & Son since 1950.

The son of a shoemaker, Wegner was trained as a cabinetmaker before attending the School of Arts and Crafts in Copenhagen, after which he began his career as an architect. Just three years later, Wegner started his own design office, and his work soon caught the eye of the folks at Carl Hansen & Son.

The light, sculptural Wishbone Chair was exactly what the Hansen company was looking for to supplement the heavier forms that were popular at the time. However, the Wishbone was a challenging chair to make, as this steam-bent solid wood frame demands perfect craftsmanship and an intimate knowledge of wood joinery.

Even today, the seat is still hand woven from paper cord, a durable material developed during WWII as a substitute for jute. Using the best natural materials, the sculptural Wishbone is made to last for generations and offers outstanding sitting comfort. In recent years, Carl Hansen & Son introduced the CH24 in bright blues, vibrant yellows, and soft pastels. All chairs are still made in Denmark.

 Click here to read more about the story behind the Wishbone chair and some interesting facts about this icon.

 

How to spot a fake Wishbone

One of the two chairs above is a replica. Do you know which one? If you’ve answered b), you are right! But it’s really not that obvious, right?

Here are a few tips to help you spot a real one: 

JOINS

Spot a fake instantly by looking at the curved top rail. Made from one solid piece of steam-bent timber the real Wishbone has no joins. Curved, tapered dowels support the seat in the real Wishbone.

SEAT
The seat is one of the most telling signs of a fake Wishbone. Made from highly durable paper cord the real Wishbone seat has a tight uniform weave. The fake chairs are made from cheap nylon or synthetic cord.

Look closely at the weaving: it should be tight, at near-perfect 90-degree angles and the front left should be exactly the same as the front right.

TIMBER
Made from good quality sustainable Danish timbers such as oak, ash and walnut, the real Wishbone has an even finish in color with no knots. The fake chairs have knots and an uneven finish in the timber.

Wishbone-chair-details

PRICE
If the price is too good to be true, chances are the chair is too good to be true too…

LABEL
Newer Wishbone Chairs feature a label on the underside, at the back, that displays the Carl Hansen & Son logo, Hans J. Wegner’s signature, and the serial number. Other versions of the Wishbone Chair have a sticker label, and even older ones have just a branded Carl Hansen & Son mark (see examples below).

If you don’t see a label, or if looks suspect, be wary.

wishbone-chairs-labels

DIMENSIONS

Take out the tape measure and make sure they match these specifications:

Seat Back Height: 75cm (29.53in)
Front of Top Rail Height: 71cm (27.95in)
Seat Front Height: 45cm (17.72in)
Front Legs Ground Width: 55cm (21.65in)
Depth – From Front Leg to Back of Curved Rail: 51cm (20.08in)

 

wishbone-chair-measurements

AUTHORIZED DEALERS

Only authorized Carl Hansen & Son dealers can sell Wegner Wishbone Chairs. If you buy from one of these dealers, you’re getting the real-deal. View a list of authorized online dealers here.

 

 

Source: Authentic Design, Danish Design Store and EST Magazine

Photos: Toby Scott via EST

SaveSave


10 Comments

  1. cownifer
    1 May 2013 / 10:41 am

    Think there’s been a mistake here – the two chairs in the picture are exactly the same… and both fake, if knots in the wood are an indicator of replicas!

    • Catherine
      1 May 2013 / 11:13 am

      Hi Jennifer,

      I was also puzzled at first when I saw this picture from Toby Scott and EST Magazine – There are indeed not many differences… There are surely more flagrant examples out there. I think the idea is also to show how good replicas are nowadays, making it extra difficult to spot a real chair (and possibly getting ripped off in the process).

      Catherine

  2. Jay
    2 May 2013 / 4:13 pm

    I believe the dimensions of the chair were changed sometime in the 1990s, so that the seat height is now higher than the original designs. I may be mistaken, but would love if someone could confirm this.

  3. Azza
    2 May 2013 / 7:23 pm

    the two pictures are the same! unless you managed to make a replica with the exact match to wood grain in the exact same spots. geez…..if you overlayed it in photoshop you will see they are identical, impossible even with an original matched with an original in terms of wood grain

  4. Jeff
    24 Nov 2013 / 5:06 pm

    honestly, who inspects furniture with a magnifying glasses? You want something beautiful, long-lasting (but not so long that it becomes a family heirloom – if you’re like me you replace your furniture after 5 years. There’s a depreciation factor on everything regardless of how well its made), head over to this site.

    I picked up a barcelona chair and a wishbone chair at Elite Modern Furniture at an awesome awesome price. I’d recommend.

    • hans
      14 Jan 2014 / 6:32 am

      absolutely the most idiotic statement i’ve read in ages. “there’s a depreciation factor on everything…” obviously you are not in touch with reality.

      sounds like a blatant plug. moderators should edit this comment.

  5. 23 Jan 2014 / 9:56 am

    Well done! We have to do everything possible to discourage the purchase of knock offs. It’s such a major problem here in North America. We are a proud Canadian dealer for all things authentic, Carl Hansen being at the top of the list!

    Keep up the good work!

  6. Sheila Rizzo
    27 Mar 2014 / 1:48 pm

    The two chairs are indeed identical – look carefully at the pattern of wood grain. They match exactly.

  7. Ronald
    31 Mar 2014 / 9:40 am

    test

  8. Ronald
    31 Mar 2014 / 9:43 am

    I would like to buy a few old chairs i’d like to have some information about the production periods related to the labels. I think I found all the labels that have been used for the wisbone chair (see attachment). Does anyone know what the production periodes are? I guess the order from the fifties is: 4, 3, 5, 2, 1. And i guess that label 5 was in production between 2002 and 2006.

    http://postimg.org/image/hqtcohnz3/

    I like to hear from you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *