How Can You Tell if a Marcel Breuer Chair is Real?

Pieces that have stood the test of time in both style and quality


Marcel Lajos Breuer was one of the first and youngest students to attend the radical Bauhaus, a German art school that was renowned for their approach to design. During this time, he designed the Wassily Chair and the Cesca Chair, which The New York Times have called some of the most important chairs of the 20th century. Affectionately called Lajkó by his friends and family, Marcel Breuer quickly progressed from student to teacher and then ultimately head of his own firm. Breuer often collaborated with other designers to produce everything from utensils to buildings, but he is best known for his iconic bicycle-handlebar-inspired tubular steel chairs. He moved to the United States in 1937 and became a naturalized American citizen in 1944.


A 20th century Marcel Breuer (1902-1981) for Isokon "short chair"

Sold for £7,800


When it comes to iconic furniture designs, few names are as renowned as Marcel Breuer. The Hungarian-born architect and designer was a pioneer of modernist furniture, creating pieces that have stood the test of time in both style and quality. However, with Breuer's designs becoming increasingly sought-after, the risk of encountering imitation or reproduced pieces has also risen.

So, how can you ensure that the Marcel Breuer chair you're considering is the real deal? Whilst we would always recommend consulting with an expert… For those keen to learn how to spot the genuine article, here are some key things to look out for:


A set of six Colombo tan leather and chrome armchairs designed by Marcel Breuer

Sold for £750


  • Some (but not all) authentic Breuer chairs will bear the manufacturer's mark or model identity, which is usually found on the underside of the seat or frame. This could be a stamp, label, or engraving indicating the piece was produced by Thonet, Knoll, or another licensed manufacturer.
  • Breuer's signature tubular steel frames and carefully considered joinery are hallmarks of his designs. Genuine pieces will exhibit high-quality craftsmanship and materials that align with Breuer's modernist aesthetic. A close inspection of the frame should feature polished, smooth, welded ends – if there are end caps, this is likely a replica.
  • Provenance and documentation will be able to verify that you have the real thing. Look for any accompanying paperwork, such as certificates of authenticity or dealer invoices, that can verify the chair's origins and history.
  • Whilst provenance is important, price and seller reputation also play a part…If the price seems too good to be true, or the seller is not an established, reputable dealer, that can raise some red flags about the item's authenticity.

A 20th century, Marcel Breuer (1902-1981) for Isokon "Long Chair"

Sold for £3,600


By keeping these factors in mind, you'll be better equipped to identify an authentic Marcel Breuer chair. Due diligence is key when acquiring such iconic and valuable pieces of design history, to ensure your investment is a sound one. When in doubt, we always recommend dealing with a reputable specialist within the field. Here at Dawsons, our expert Valuers would be happy to assist with authentication and an accurate current market valuation of any piece of potential Breuer furniture.


Read more

A Guide to 20th Century Furniture



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