B & I Nathan was a furniture maker that followed contemporary taste in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Like G-Plan, Nathan emphasised the value of its brand, trading on an image of quality and craftsmanship. Nathan furniture followed rather than set trends in the 50s and 60s. The company moved slightly more up market at the end of the 60s and produced some innovative designs that inspired a large group of loyal customers to furnish their homes in Nathan's distinctive style: modern, but with a traditional feel.
Nathan furniture in the 50s
In the 50s, like other brands, Nathan went contemporary. The firm followed the fashion in the late 50s into Tola (African mahogany) furniture, with black, ebonised legs and brass handles. This dining room suite, right is a good example of the 50s' contemporary style. The chairs are covered in an abstract patterned material and have black ebonised frames. The sideboard is in Tola with brass handles.
Nathan furniture in the 60s
Nathan retained this look into the early 60s. In this they were a little behind some of the other manufacturers that were already experimenting with more fashionable teak furniture.
In 1963, Nathan went Scandinavian. Their advertisements proclaimed 'Scandinavian Design By Nathan'. Nathan's first range of teak furniture was called 'Citadel'. It had a classic Scandinavian low, long sideboard, which was simple and elegant with no decoration other than plain recessed handles. At 6 feet in length, it was still large and provided ample storage, but was more suited to a semi-detached house than the massive 7ft sideboards that some of the more expensive firms sold.
Nathan introduced several other dining suites on the same theme: modern, Scandinavian inspired, designs in teak. All began with the letter "C": Corsican, Corinthian and Cortina. The top of the range, the 7ft Corinthian sideboard, right, had the added luxury touch of rosewood handles. Rosewood was expensive and used by only the best manufacturers. Manufacturers at the cheaper end of the furniture market added small touches in rosewood to make their teak furniture more glamorous. This advertisements shows the glamour and style of the world the furniture makers were selling to their customers. The room layout is minimalist and modern, the lady is sipping a cocktail, and even the telephone was aspirational in the mid sixties.
In the late 60s Nathan moved further upmarket. Many manufacturers were making teak furniture, so designs needed to be original. They introduced several new designs in teak. One of the best was this sideboard with a circle pattern cut into the veneer on the doors.
These new designs continued into the early 70s. Nathan then took a different course.
Nathan in the 70s
Nathan furniture in the 70s acquired a more traditional look. These units, right, are from the mid 70s. The doors have a traditional Jacobean feel, yet the concept of units was modern, as was the material, teak, which remained the first choice for most buyers throughout the 70s. The setting on the right looks like a typical suburban dining room from the 70s. Nathan may have been aiming at a slightly more mature buyer. Younger people were either shopping at Habitat, or more likely going to a discount warehouse to buy furniture in the 70s.
Buy retro Nathan furniture
If you are interested in buying Nathan furniture, we recommend eBay as the place to start. A large amount of Nathan is sold on eBay and prices are substantially lower than you would pay from a dealer.
If you are worried about transport, there are a number of couriers that specialise in Even if the seller doesn't offer a courier, you can usually arrange for one to pick the item up and deliver it to you. Always contact the seller first though.
By Steven Braggs
Add your comments on Nathan furniture
"I have a Nathan Dining Suite which I bought in the 1961 and am just about to have the original PVC chair seats re-upholstered - after 50 years! This time, I will be having fabric in a neutral green/cream pattern. Before I replace the seats (with the four original long screws) I would like to restore the black ebonised frames of the chairs, legs of the table and legs of the sideboard. The furniture is not damaged beyond a few scratches and minor wear and tear to be expected after 50 years. I understand that I should use Indian Ink or black leather dye and would welcome advice as to how I should go about this." Angela Richards 14/07/2012
"I have just been given two 70s teak nathan cabinets, I am very happy to find out what they are and now just have to decide whether to paint them or not." Kate 22/09/2013
If they are in good condition I would leave them as is. Think of them as antique furniture. If they are scruffy then you should be able to restore them by reapplying teak oil." steven 23/09/2013
"Does anybody know if it's possible to take off the top from a Nathan dining room table. I'm moving and the flat I'm moving into has a narrow front door, and I don't think the table will fit through unless the top is taken off. Thanks." Hannah 19/01/2014
"I have just bought a Nathan "atomic" design coffe table; it is teak & shaped in a kind of rounded triangle, with a circular piece of glass in its centre. I am wondering if anyone could tell me what era it was made, 60s or 70s?
Thanks." Heidi 03/03/2014
"we bought a dining suite at the Ideal Homes exhibition 1969 it comprised the long sideboard with circular veneer inlays, a 4' extending to 6' dining table, tuck under chairs and the coffee table you describe Coffee table suffered some damage recently but rest of suite is ageing well" Geoff Uttlet 21/08/2015
"I have the Nathan sideboard with the circles on the doors. The top is stained, how can I restore it?" Veronica 26/09/2015
"I have a desk built in late 60 in new York made of teak rounded on left side. middle draw with lock and still have key.two file draw on right side.Would like to send you pictures" james burgess 11/11/2015
"sideboard oak or pine chest of draws blue melomine table 4chairs kitchen sideboard to match" George postcode sy225ld 12/02/2016
"I've just bought the side cabinet as pictured above from a local charity shop. Feeling very excited to have found such a great piece of furniture." Emma Horn 26/04/2016
"Hello I purchased in 1976 a Nathan teak book shelf/bureau with cupboards underneath. It has been in storage and I have lost the key.
Please can anyone help.
Thanks Frances McLeod" Frances McLeod 25/11/2016
"Just purchased a Nathan Circles Sideboard, virtually unmarked, from a charity shop for £40. My girlfriend pointed it out because of its beauty and quality. In a quandary because I already have an 8 drawer G Plan sideboard in the space. Nice quandary to have though" Ray Everett 20/12/2016
"My mother had a Nathan wall unit, table and chairs in the mid seventies. The doors have the similar circles inset to the sideboard i have seen but they are more elliptical. Can you give any information about this design please as I have not found any other units with this type of design." Jane Bloxham 24/04/2017
"I lost a key to my bookcase/secretary that I think is the same as that of Frances McLeod. Did you ever find a key??" Rhonda Sexton 31/05/2017
"I have a nathan hi-fi cabinet and am interested in finding out its age,any help out there please?" Allan F 15/06/2017
"We have a Nathan wardrobe ,headboard with 2 bedside lockers 1 attached to either side,we also have a Nathan side board,that has a mirrored cocktail centre with 2 drawers in either side and at bottom it has 2 single cupboards and dble one in centre good condition bought in 60's." Carol Chadwick 13/12/2017
"Some years ago I was given an adjustable card table. I have just discovered it is a Nathan Quality item. The castors on it are Patented with 'Archibald Kendrick and Son Limited, Shepherd Patent Made in England'. Please can anyone enlighten me about this item?" Wendy Garforth 09/01/2018
"Allen F We have a Nathan Hi Fi cabinet which we bought in the 80 if that is any help to you" Denise Manchester 10/01/2018
"I have a 70s Nathan drinks cabinet which is faded I would really like to restore it to its original colour please can u help" Kate 20/01/2018
I have a circles sideboard that needs restoration on the top. Please could you tell me if the top is veneer or solid?
Thankyou!" Fiona 03/02/2018
"It will be veneer. Best regards, Steven" Steven 04/02/2018
"I found a circles sideboard in a charity shop with a stained top. It is solid not veneer. I used an electric mouse sander to remove the worst marks and sand the whole top, then brushed off the residue, then wiped with a cloth with white spirit. When it was clean and dry I oiled it with Danish oil generously. Follow the instructions on the can. The sideboard came up beautifully." Lizzy 16/03/2018
"I found a circles sideboard in a charity shop. The top was stained, but solid. I sanded, cleaned and oiled it. It came up beautifully." Lizzy 16/03/2018
"Really well done! I love the circles design. I'm really pleased this has word out well. There is always a bit of a risk as the veneer is quite thin." Steven 17/03/2018
"I used to live with the Nathan family for a month in 1968 and adored their beautiful Scandinavian furniture in their house in London. Not only their furniture were beautiful. The whole family was." Rosita 22/05/2018
"Hi Rhonda fortunately the key to my drinks cabinet lick also fits my bureau. Just need a lock Smith to make a replacement. Good luck" Frances McLeod 23/06/2018
"Hi I have what i belive is a nathan unit, it does not have the name in the door but has a label in the back with model no 4444 and other details. It looks identical and has green cultlery insert. How can i tell when this was manufactured are they still made today?" Michelle 31/07/2018
"I HAVE A CIRCLES SIDEBOARD AND COFFEE TABLE TO SELL.SLIGHT WATER STAIN ON TOP OF S/BOARD AND TABLE NEEDS SOFT SANDING ON TOP....ANYONE INTERESTED IN BUYING AS CLEARING MY MOTHER'S HOUSE .ASAP PLEASE." JUNE THOMPSON 13/09/2018
"My first job after leaving school was with B &I Nathan, I worked in the offices , and knew the original Bernie and Isaac and worked with Jerrold and Clive, I left the company 1963. I have several pieces of the Jacobean style furniture and am very proud that to have been associated with the actual family even though in a minor role in the office." Brenda hallam(nee hunt) 02/10/2018
"We have been married nearly 50 years and all the furniture in our house is Nathan - just love it! We have a round dining table with chairs that fitted underneath the rim of the table. Nice looking but not too comfortable. Bought a new set of Nathan diniing chairs about 6 years ago and they are very comfortable. We have a bookcase and last year we bought an identical one from a local charity shop. Great furniture with plenty of style." Isabel Nimmo 15/10/2018
"Hi there - I have a Nathan dresser in amazing condition and wondered if you would be interested in purchasing for resale? Open to offers. Sale is due to a home downsize. Fleet Hampshire collection. Thank you" Laura Miles 23/11/2018
"I found a 1970s Nathan telephone table and stool which will be exactly the right size to be used by my granddaughter as a desk. One panel has a bad scratch. Can anyone advise if solid teak was used or veneer? I'd like to be able to sand it and restore. Please advise." MARY BRADLEY 28/06/2019
"It is probably teak veneer. Best regards" Steven 29/06/2019
"I have a 1980s oval teak nathan table the table surface is now damaged and become sticky how should I clean it and revanish it s" Mary 12/09/2019
"I have a nest of tables with turned bamboo supports.I cannot find any info
on them.Can anyone help with model name and age?
It's got a Nathan label." David 21/06/2020