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How to tell a fake Breuer Cantilever chair

fake Breuer Cantilever chair

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What are the best ways to tell a fake Breuer Cantilever chair? Our guide outlines the clues to watch our for to avoid counterfeits of this classic Bauhaus style and not to fall for a fake Breuer Cantilever chair.

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The Thonet cantilever model in black-stained beech and walnut — a famous Bauhaus classic by Marcel Breuer — is faked over and over again. Breuer was one of the first designers ever to make furniture from steel tubing. 

At the time, a cantilever chair was not only a formal further development, but also a constructive revolution – after all, the seating furniture practically does not have any rear legs – and that is precisely why the most noticeable feature of a cantilever chair is the slight backward lowering of the seat as soon as you sit on it. The chair then swings slightly with every movement, and this swinging is the indispensable feature of every cantilever chair built according to the design by Marcel Breuer. 

Best ways to spot a fake Breuer Cantilever chair

S64 cantilever chair steel tubing

fake Breuer Cantilever chair

Every original Thonet cantilever chair is made of high-quality steel to ensure the desired elasticity is permanently guaranteed. Forgeries, are often made of inferior steel tubing, so that the chair no longer resonates after a short period of use. The steel pipes of a Thonet original have a wall thickness of 2 mm. This means that there is sufficient material thickness in the bent (stretched area) of the pipes, so that no predetermined breaking points can form. 

Many counterfeits typically have thinner walls, so that not only does the chair’s vibration behavior differ significantly from the original, but the user’s safety can also be endangered. At which is why no predetermined breaking points can form. 

Uniform dimensions

At Thonet, after bending the frames, all angles and nestling are checked and adjusted if necessary. This means that the frame of the cantilever chair is always level and swings evenly downwards. When the chairs are arranged in a row, the back and armrests are always at the same height. 

Connecting holes

Original and fake Thonet cantilever chairs differ mainly in the design of seemingly inconspicuous details, including the connecting holes through which the frame is screwed to the backrest. In the original, the connecting holes are drilled and countersunk. As a result, the pipe is not weakened in cross-section and the straight lines of the design are not lost due to depressions. 

Counterfeits, on the other hand, can usually be recognized by punched connecting holes. In addition, counterfeits usually have no galvanically chrome-plated end caps, so they differ in color. This is not the case with an original from Thonet, as our illustration shows.

Design errors

fake Breuer Cantilever chair

Original and forgery can also be distinguished by clear formal deviations. Experience has shown that counterfeits can easily catch the eye with gross design errors – for example with a straight front edge of the seat or a deviant seat height. 

In the case of an original cantilever chair, see the illustration, the front edge of the seat is rounded. This ergonomically adapted seat depth, the shape and the height of the seat surface ensure that the load on the legs is distributed over a large area. This promotes good blood circulation in the legs, especially the lower legs, and prevents the legs from falling asleep due to constant strong pressure on the nerves, especially the sciatic nerve.  For the most part, counterfeits are also: uncomfortable, not ergonomic and therefore not conducive to well-being. 

Glider attachment

Thonet, as the legitimate manufacturer of a design classic, naturally thinks in the interests of design lovers. This is why the frame is pre-cut on the underside for the assembly of gliders so that the customer can screw them on himself if necessary. Counterfeits usually have no way of retrofitting gliders. 

Armrests

fake Breuer Cantilever chair

Another form error, through which forgeries are recognizable, occurs on the frame supports for the armrests. The frame support arch for the armrest is curved and clings to the tubular steel elegantly and beautifully (equivalent to the forward-sloping seat). 

Counterfeits usually cannot come up with such a quality of execution and lack the formal harmony of the original – after all, it is the streamlined design of Marcel Breuer that made the S 64 a classic. Knowledge of the characteristics of the originals can be helpful, for example if someone thinks they have got a very special bargain.