There is, however, a smaller group of handmade works by designer-craftsmen which fall into a different category.
Studio pottery is perhaps a good example. An equivalent in the furniture world would be pieces by the Danish cabinetmaker Peder Moos (1906-1991) who made all his commissions himself.
Moos’ work, with its signature exposed joints and finely honed surfaces, has come to the fore in recent years and its value is growing. However, as the product of one man, supply is limited. It’s difficult to see how it could replicate the mass-market appeal of a Jacobsen Egg chair.
Another of these Danish designer makers on whom the spotlight fell recently is the cabinet maker turned architect Jacob Hermann (1910-95).
While Moos controlled the form of his designs (not least through the hours spent sanding surfaces), Hermann let the natural form of the wood determine the shape and finish of his pieces. He has much in common with George Nakashima.
Basically he never tried to sell any piece of furniture, people came to him
’Less than 100 pieces’
Not surprisingly if you want to look for auction precedents for works by this little-known Jutland maker, the Copenhagen auction house Bruun Rasmussen (24% buyer’s premium) is a firm bet, although even they have offered only a handful of pieces.
Its design specialist Peter Kjelgaard reckons there are probably less than 100 pieces around made over a span of 20-25 years. “Basically he never tried to sell any piece of furniture, people came to him,” Kjelgaard says.
Exceptionally, in the firm’s most recent design sale on June 4 were six pieces by Hermann: two tables and two table benches in bobinga and walnut and two driftwood sculptures. Three of them had been consigned from the same family.
Five of these found buyers with a 5ft 10in (1.8m) long table bench in solid Caucasian walnut, signed Jacob Hermann 1972 and with a stamped monogram, setting a new auction high at DKr85,000 (£10,000).
Despite the scarcity of Hermann’s work Kjelgaard is hopeful of further consignments. “I’m sure pieces might come forward now that we have established a price level,” he said.
The highest price in the auction was for a more textbook example of inter-war Danish design.
Flemming Larsen’s Tired Man armchair was designed in 1935 and Bruun Rasmussen’s version was made around 1936-39 by the cabinetmaker AJ Iveson. The button-back easy chair upholstered with yellow wool outstripped its Dkr400,000 guide to sell for DKr610,000 (£71,765).