Tag Archives: selling antiques

Auction results. Feh!

The auction house sent me a preliminary statement from last week’s sale.

My art deco sideboard sold for $650. The six place settings of lovely thoroughly modern looking 100-year-old china? $150. The antique clock? $350. Then the auction company takes 20% of that for commission.  Some stuff didn’t even sell.

I guess the good news is that if I ever want to re-stock on furnishings, the auction house is the place to start for incredible bargains on lovely things.

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Filed under Art & antiques, Downsizing, Furniture, Selling stuff

What’s your stuff worth? (Hint: not much…)

Lenox plates

I delivered a couple of antiques, some lovely old china and several nice paintings to a local auction house today. The guy had come out a few days ago to eyeball my holdings and estimate what they might bring at auction next month.

It was really depressing.

P1000048This 2,400 year-old ceramic water jug from Greece, for example, was brought here from Europe by my grandfather in the 1930s. It was appraised four years ago at $1000. But the auction guy said cheap copies of such antiquities are now readily available, so no one wants to pay for the real thing. Besides, who wants to worry about the real thing breaking?  (!)  “Well, fine,” I said (suppressing harsher words), “I’m keeping it then.”

Then there is my Grandmother’s gold-rimmed Lenox china (see above). It’s 100 years old, and yet very modern and simple in design. 6 place settings plus platters, serving bowls, etc. all in perfect condition.  “Maybe we’ll get $200,” he said. I muttered something crude under my breath.

Becker clockA lovely Austrian clock from 1880 (which cost $600 at an antique store in 1976 – $2278 in today’s dollars – and is still in perfect working condition)? “I estimate $300 to $400…” This was something that should have APpreciated over time, not DEpreciated.

OK. I can deal with the indignity of being told my Preciouses are worth shit today. They’re just things, I tell myself.

And mostly I’m all right with the financial loss, knowing that someone will be happy to snap them up at a bargain price, and might even come to love them.

But then I had to deliver my art deco oak sideboard, which the auctioneer expected to sell for about what I paid for it back in 1975. It was one of my first major purchases for the house I bought after my first husband died (very young, of cancer). It anchored the dining room as a place where our little family could begin to come together in a new way. I kept our silver, placemats, napkins, and fancy glasses in it – and out of its capaciousness I set the table for many many family meals, holiday celebrations and convivial evenings with friends. (Not shown here is a lovely leaded glass cabinet above the mirrored back.)

P1000016

As we loaded it into the van I was surprised to find myself bursting into tears. Surprised because so far I’ve been pretty sanguine about the whole downsizing process. OK, I am indignant over the lowball prices, but this wasn’t about money. It was about meaning.

The auctioneer sees antique furniture and other family heirlooms like mine every day – to him it’s chopped liver. But to those of us who’ve lived for decades with the piece and imbued it with our energy and memories, it’s amputation. I walk by the place in the dining room where it’s always been and nothing is left but dust bunnies and a mark on the molding.

I suspect that as the house gets increasingly empty I’m going to want to speed up the process of getting out so I don’t have to feel the phantom pain any longer than necessary.

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Filed under Art & antiques, Attachment - Vairagya, Downsizing, Emotional issues, Furniture, Selling stuff

Sudden misgivings: am I selling too soon?

shorter oak bureau

It’s not like this oak dresser is anything special, even though it’s old and I’ve had it a long time. Nor is the other old oak bureau, or the plain pine one.  And I’m not enamored of any of them.

But now they’re gone and there are holes where they lived. Empty space.

Neither spare bedroom was crowded with furniture in the first place. One was my  son’s (currently globe-trotting), and the other a very comfy guest room.   Without dressers, neither room feels so homey.

I won’t miss the stuff, it’s the hospitality potential I’m selling off  – the “Mom’s place where’s there’s always room for you” .

On a crasser note, the two antique bureaus were probably priced too low, given the enthusiastic response I got from my Craigslist posting.  I  could have gotten an additional $20 for each of them.  On the other hand the pine bureau went for $5 more.  Live and learn.

Now let’s talk about the !@#$ing McGuire humongo desk… am I going to have to PAY to be free of it?  In case you’ve forgotten what it looks like:

McGuire Desk

McGuire Desk

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Filed under Attachment - Vairagya, Baby steps, Downsizing, Emotional issues, Furniture, Selling stuff

Baby steps…

chandelier1

I’ve had this antique ceiling fixture in my garage for 15 years, waiting to find the someone who wanted it enough to pay for it. It’s survived a couple of yard sales and a stay at a consignment shop without a taker. It graced my older home in Berkeley for 30 years so I didn’t want to just junk it.

This week I posted it on Craigslist for $60 and four people called about it – and last night the first caller came by with his wife (and the $60).  They were a darling young couple who were renovating their little Victorian cottage and they fell in love with the fixture despite its broken petal (which I had disclosed).  Rejuvenation Hardware had told me they could probably sell it for about $250, but so what.  I preferred seeing how happy these folks were and imagining the light shining on their home.

It’s ust $60, but it’s another baby step in getting rid of excess stuff.

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“Antiques aren’t drawing the prices they were a couple of years ago”

Today I called a local furniture consignment store to inquire about their selling a Victorian ladies chair that was my mother’s, as well as the aforementioned humongous McGuire executive desk.

Here’s the chair:

Victorian chair

Victorian chair

The gal said they’d have their appraiser give me a rough price, but not to expect a lot, because the market for antiques has plunged. “Antiques aren’t drawing the prices they did a couple of years ago… you might want to wait to sell,” she said.

Right. But I want to sell it now.

I understand fashion cycles – things go in and out of vogue. Currently the 1950’s are hot (whodathunkit??).  Victoriana is cold. But my question is – will big old heavy stuff ever come back into fashion?

Everyone is wanting to live lighter, smaller, cheaper. Ikea – screw it together yourself is all the rage. If it breaks in a few years, so be it; we’ll get a new more trendy one when that happens.

Perhaps another golden age of well-crafted American-made antiques will return, but not until the economy is standing firmly back on its feet – and no doubt long after I’ve moved into my shoebox.

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