The Eames Black House Bird

So last Friday I wrote about the extraordinary Eames Walnut Stool. And in putting that article together I spied this very sleek, elegant black bird in some of the images I sorted through. As I delved further, I learned that this bird has come to be known as the Eames Black House Bird. Okay, I’m sure you already knew that, but for me it was a moment of enlightenment… and so now I have to share! See, that’s the great thing about blogs… you learn and you share 🙂

Here’s the exquisite creature that captured my eye.


Isn’t he great?

All the research basically says the same thing. The black house bird was acquired by Charles and Ray Eames on their journey through the Appalachian mountain region of the eastern United States. They were known to spice up their collections with objects they discovered in their extensive travels, and the black house bird happened to be one of them.

The original black wooden bird, c. 1910, was created by Charles Perdew. Perdew had been the owner of a gun repair business, but turned it over to his son in 1930 and started to carve birds full time. He carved miniatures, half sizes and full sizes of all kinds of birds for decoys.


Do you think this bird looks real?


I wonder what the cat thinks!

The house bird became one of the most prized American folk art objects the Eames’ owned…


And stood in the center of their famous Pacific Palisades living room for over fifty years.


Doesn’t this authentic Mid-Century Modern room make your heart pound just a little bit faster? And there in the center is the famous bird, sitting up proud and tall. He’s actually close to 11″ x 3.5″ x 11″, but I think he looks bigger than that, in spite of the open, soaring space of the Eames living room.

And in this space too.


Maybe the stature of this object is symbolic of its notoriety. The black house bird was not only a prized object in the Eames home, but it was also seen as an accessory in many of the Eames’ photographs. The bird became a trademark prop, most notably in the famous publicity photo for the Eames Wire Chairs.



This image happens to be a 1952 original front cover from an issue of ‘The Architectural Review‘!

Based on the original artifact and in cooperation with the Eames Family, Vitra is now producing the first series of this figure, which you can purchase for $210 US. And so… this is on my wish list of things to save for and invest in! Funny how the wish list grows with each post 😉


The Eames’ house bird is made of solid alder with a black lacquer finish and steel wire legs, though Perdew worked mainly in pine. But he was also known for utilizing reclaimed timbers from old bridges, beams from empty buildings, or leftover wood from sash and door factories.  If you were to come across a vintage (c. 1910) original of Perdew’s black house bird, it is apparently now worth an estimated $3650 US! So there’s investment, and then there’s INVESTMENT!

Especially when paired with a Wishbone chair!


 But I can also see him in this setting here…


Paired with these Eames Molded Plastic chairs here.


So, how long have you known about the Eames Black House Bird? Do you have any stories to tell?

Where have I been?! 🙂

Thanks for stopping by!

Signature 100x47 b&w

Photograph source linked below each photograph.

9 Replies to “The Eames Black House Bird”

  1. Well, I didn’t know about the Eames black house bird either! Now I also need to add one to my long list of wants. I can see him being at home in many places. Thanks for posting all about him. Have a great weekend!

    1. Thank you Lisa! I think he’s pretty awesome, and seriously have him on my wish list… And thank you for leaving a comment. It was so nice to see you your name pop up!
      I hope you have a great weekend – I read your comment on Barbara’s hodge:podge blog and wished I could comment back to you. Loved what you said! And I hope your dancing goes well 🙂

  2. I am obsessed with this modern piece, and my obsession has grown now that I’ve read this. I live in Chattanooga, TN in and near the Appalachian Mountains. I now have a new goal; Find Perdew’s Bird. Thanks for your post, I throughly enjoyed.

    1. Hi Ian,
      Thanks so much for stopping by! I know how you feel – love this bird! If you find Perdew’s bird, please make sure you come back and let me know! 😉
      Good luck bird hunting!!!

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