Secondhand sourcing is all about persistence, and I am not exaggerating when I say that multiple times per week since 2019, I stalk Live Auctioneers for the Louis XVI marble top chest of my dreams. I’ve become addicted to finding the perfect chest at the perfect price.
I have never once seen a chest like the one I’ve been looking for on FB MP or Craigslist, but I often see them on Chairish & 1stDibs (usually for wayyy above what I’m willing to spend).
When I found my original empire-style commode for my office, I fell in love with it, but secretly wished it was a Louis XVI style chest.
So I waited it out. And stalked. And waited. And bid…on a LOT of chests.
Here are just two that I only recently lost out on:
See how the shape/silhouette is visually lighter than my commode?
I never won because I wasn’t bidding high enough and always felt like I could get a better deal if I waited for another one to show up at auction that maybeeeee no one else was watching (ha)!
There were definitely moments where I regretted not bidding $50 or $100 more, and I always kicked myself for it.
Until a few weeks ago, when I was doing my daily scroll on LiveAuctioneers and saw this gorgeous Louis XVI chest from an auction house in TX:
I was truly drawn to every single detail: the tapered legs, the brass inset, the marble top and ogee edge, the metal escutcheons, the simple wood grain, even the size was perfect for our living room.
The day of the live auction came and my anxiety was high – it was the most-watched item out of the few hundred items in the auction, and other people kept out-bidding me leading up to the live auction. But I told myself I won’t let anyone beat me this time. Unless it got to be too expensive, of course. LOL
Chests like this usually sell at auction for between $800-$2,500, depending on the style, condition, size, etc. Right before the auction started, I made my max bid $1700, meaning that if anyone bid any amount BELOW $1700 during the final call of the live auction, it would be mine.
The final call is usually a 10 second period where the guy running the auction is trying to get everyone to bid higher, but it feels like an eternity when your bid is the highest.
So if someone bid $1300 during the final call, I would win it for $1300 since my max bid was $1700. And that’s exactly what happened.
I was THRILLED – I finally won the chest of my dreams and it ended up being cheaper than I thought. And cheaper than some of the others that I lost out on.
Because there’s a buyer’s premium that varies from auction house (this one was 22%), plus TX state tax, I paid $1690 in total.
Prior to winning, I wanted to see how much it would cost to ship from TX (where the auction house was) to NJ. The auction house had this list of shippers they recommend but are not affiliated with.
I reached out to shipping vendors that the auction house recommended and also got a few quotes from uShip. The quotes I received to ship from TX to NJ ranged from $350-$1500. I don’t recommend going with the cheapest option, but to go with someone who has good reviews and is a good communicator. I ended up going with the $400 option. He was super responsive and even sent me photos and a video of him picking up the chest.
If you’re doing the math, I spent around $2k for this chest. You may think that’s insane, and I by no means need to justify a purchase with my own money to strangers on the internet (partially joking), but I’m selling some of my stuff right now – including three other antique chests, which should cover the cost of my unicorn chest. I call it the secondhand ecosystem. Also, a poor quality chest from a popular retail store would probably cost the same amount!
And here she is in her new home!
I’m now slightly addicted to auctions, haha! Feel free to leave a comment with any questions and I’ll do my best to answer for you!
IT IS BEAUTIFUL!!!! And screw haters you don’t need to justify your costs to anyone. What a great find. Congratulations!!!
It’s perfection! Will you keep the other one??
I actually already sold it lol
Yup this is my dream chest too. Ever since I saw this same chest in Nicola Bathie McGlaughlin’s house I’ve been wanting one! Now I know the real cost. Sigh
Nancy Keyes says
It’s gorgeous! It’s perfect!
Thank you Nancy!
Oh my gosh, I’m dyinggg. It’s so beautiful! I also didn’t realize how bad I wanted one of those until now so thanks, I guess? Haha
HAHAHA! I didn’t realize how bad I wanted one until I saw it the first time too! 🤣🤣🤣
Bravo! Such a timeless piece and this one is really beautiful. And WORTH every penny! I’d be curious to learn about the shopper you used if you’re open to sharing.
Yes! Here is the shipper. He was AMAZING!!! When he brought it inside he was being soo careful with it. And he was so communicative throughout this journey to NJ haha. His name is Kelby and his number is +1 (561) 654-7969
Would love to know more about working with shipping companies… I’ve really wanted to start getting involved with auctions but am so scared and intimidated to work with shippers….. 😬
How do you manage working with them in a short timeframe? Do you give them a deadline or let them know when you need to know?
I love this question. I hope you answer it 😉
the first thing I do when I’m hoping to win something at auction is looking the auction house pickup dates. The auction house for this chest had a 10 day pickup period from the day I won’t the item. I didn’t care when the shipper dropped off the item to me…. So I just made sure he knew that he had to pick it up between (10 days from the auction). This wasn’t his first rodeo so he knew what to do. I sent him my invoice upon winning and he picked it up a few days later. Then he told me he’d deliver it between x dates. I hope that helps!
OBSESSED! Auctions are so terrifying and thrilling at the same time, ha!
Omg totally! I screamed when I won. What an adrenaline rush LOL
I love it! Was the shipper you chose from the auction house list or from U ship? I think you got a great deal.
Thanks!! He was one of the independent shippers I found through the auction house! I listed his info in another comment 🙂
Congratulations, Alisa! She is beautiful and definitely lighter than your other lovely chest. Additionally, the fact that she brings you such joy makes her even lovelier! Have you named her yet?
Emily K. says
“She’s a beaut, Clark!” Seriously, friggin’ gorgeous. Well done.
Haha thank you!!! 🥰🥰🥰
Tracey E says
SHE IS GORGEOUS!!! Sorry, I know I’m shouting, but I’m excited for you!
My unicorn was being the successful bidder on a desk. I couldn’t see the details very well in the fuzzy pictures, but I liked the overall shape and the size. I paid $600. Canadian dollars. It was an estate auction.
Once I went to pick it up, I could hardly contain my excitement. It was way more beautiful than I thought. Even my husband was shocked. It’s a Partners desk, with hand carving all along the legs. It was in one of our Government house offices at Parliament Hill. (I live in Ottawa, capital city of Canada for those not familiar). It is mid 1800’s.
The grandson told me of its history. All of the estate items were located in the most beautiful historic home downtown. That desk is one of my most prized possessions. One day I will have a beautiful office like yours to house it in. I want to recreate your office, as it’s the most beautiful office I’ve ever seen. You’re so talented!!!
It is so beautiful. I love the details. That inset definitely makes it worth every penny!
Yeeeees❣️I agree, the gold inset is 💯. I am so happy for you💋💋❣️❣️💯💯⚰️⚰️
Ahhh thank you Laurie! 🥰🥰🥰
Thank you!! Totally agree!!
Ahhh! You totally scored with this one and it’s absolutely stunning!!!
Thank you Jeanne!!🥰
Pamela B says
Absolutely stunning find!!!
Deborah Burns says
Congratulations on capturing your unicorn!! You are a fabulous huntress to have the patience to find, catch and bring home such a lovely piece. I am so happy for you!
Thank you so much Deborah!!
Libbi V. says
OH MY GOD, Alisa – WHAT A FIND!!! Congrats! I also love those chests… maybe I need to start stalking for my unicorn chest 😀
Hahaha you totally do!!! Thank you!!
Strangers on the Internet feels harsh. 😝 Congratulations on the victory!!
Happy Birthday, indeed! We’ll done!
Literally obsessed with it. It’s perfection! What a great find😍.
Deborah Main says
It’s a absolutely GORGEOUS!!! Love the marble, the wood grain, the details, everything about it. And whoohoo for you scoring on this pins + needles auction!! I wish I could have driven it from Houston to you! That would have been fun, as I’m in Austin. Great piece you’ll cherish forever!!
Aww thank you Deborah!!! I appreciate that 💚🥰🥰🥰
Just gorgeous!! Woooohoooo! Loved reading this story and the chest will be a treasure to you for a lifetime just because of it’s special story 🥰 Thank you for sharing all the details!
Thank you so much Jan!
Congratulations 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 It’s perfect!
I am so glad for you! I only buy at auction, as antique dealers are just too expensive for what I love, and I was sold fakes by a dealer who claimed they were American and not British. We spent the pandemic in the Midwest, and I bought a 8’ by 11 antique hand tied oriental at one of the lower cost auctions for 165.00 which included the buyers premium. We decided we weren’t rug people and an auction in the Midwest sold it for more than twice what I paid including the shipping. My unicorn was a set of 8 period Cromwell chairs (17th century) which I paid $250 total for! Usually chairs are sold at the price of each chair, I looked very carefully and that was not in the description anywhere. That auctioneer had another company do the listing and they made the error. He felt he had to honor it, and told me he had 5 other sets of antique chairs in that auction all listed wrong.
I have no idea who you used for shipping, but I always use Plycon for furniture. They only do white gloves shipping, which means that it is blanket wrapped and carried into your home where you want it. A big step up from other shippers, and not that much more.
wow!! that is amazing! my shipper also was white glove, I couldn’t believe how careful they were when delivering it. way better than any other retail furniture delivery I’ve had!
marilyn shannon says
Beautiful chest! I live in Texas and you could have come here and picked it up! But my question is what is the paint color you have in the pic of the first chest you had? I am painting kitchen cabinets and this is the green shade i am looking for.
thanks! it’s benjamin moore trailing vines
I’ve just discovered your site today! And what a wonderful day to be here!! I adore your new chest and think of all the memories you will have. The hunt and the auction. It is absolutely beautiful and you should be proud.
thank you so much Marsha!!