Colorado couple buys valuable Herman Miller chair for $5

Nadine Kalinauskas
Good News

Last year, Sarah Keepers and her husband James Hull bought a "unique" plywood chair from a garage sale for just $5.

The Littleton, Colorado, couple didn't know they were buying a Herman Miller original worth thousands.

"We just liked the chair because it had a unique look and seemed to have character," Keepers, who co-owns the resale business "The Shabby Chic" with her husband, told KDVR. "I was about to donate the chair to the Goodwill, but something told me to check out the silver decal label underneath the chair. When I did, it had the designer's name…Charles and Rae Eams and the Herman Miller brand name right there for all to see."

Carie Mueller, a manager of the Herman Miller Workplace Resources office in Denver, confirmed that the chair was built by the famous furniture designer.

"To find an antique like that an original for $5 is an amazing deal," said Mueller.

The Plywood Chair, the name it was given when it went into the Museum of Modern Art's permanent collection, is considered a mid-century modern-design icon, made of bended plywood.

Herman Miller didn't design the chairs. His son, J.D. Dupree, ran the furniture company Miller funded — and hired designers Charles and Ray Eames to build lightweight leg splints for the military in the '40s.

"The Eams were the first inventors to come up with a system to heat and bend plywood into unique shapes and designs," Mueller told KDVR. "They began their work with the U.S. Navy who needed a lightweight, leg cast and with metal in short supply following World War II, using plywood did the trick. What they learned making the cast, helped them come up with the Plywood Chair."

"When that chair was introduced in 1946, it right away went into the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art," Mueller told KSDK.

In the past, these Plywood Chairs have sold for between $14,000 and $150,000, KDSK reported.