SNAKE Auction Observer 003: undervalued furniture, accessories ending this week
10 auctions ending this week (some today) I think are undervalued, or affordable. All on LiveAuctioneers, all furniture and home goods. If you’re looking for a specific piece of furniture for your home or office, let me know. (Info on how to use Liveauctioneers at the end of the email.)
Some housekeeping: I’ve also received some requests for my work, as social promotions can get lost in the stream. Here’s what I’ve published the last few weeks:
Over at GQ, I interviewed the trainer from The Northman — in depth, no spoilers. I also interviewed Danny Elfman, who wrote The Simpsons theme, and is in very good shape for a sexagenarian At Inverse, I interviewed a sciencetist and the head of a publicly-traded German chemical company about creatine, the muscle supplement, why it’s expensive, what it is, and whether it works (it does). I also wrote a guide on how lifting for senior citizens, and spoke to the author of that three-second lifting study everyone’s talking about. Lots of lifting. New newsletter subscribers should note I write about these topics often.
Onto the auctions:
Gio Ponti apta daybed, LA, shipping from Dallas: A fine daybed, slightly deco aesthetic — blame the round tufted cushions — with legs like a hospital bed. Avant considering Ponti, an architect, was born in the 1800s. Heritage, a competing auction platform, is the seller. I was told (by them) that they ship in-house, but when I won an item off them it broke and they didn’t send it so I can’t confirm. The most expensive Ponti item on LA.c is a daybed, but fancy. One Apta daybed with a headboard and footboard sold in 2020 for a lot, but none like this. $5,000, not cheap.
Kinsman graffiti wall for Bieffeplast, LA, shipping from Dallas: Rodney Kinsman’s best known for his Omstack chair, which you may not be able to name but have definitely seen. This graf wall (Hamas green) is on the same level with his Tractor Seat: very very good, equally brilliant, stark and confusing. Curious how this happened. Looks like Tomado shelving to me. What a run by Bieffeplast. Same house as above, $600
Knoll sapper leather chair, LA, from Cornwall NY: A very plain, almost ugly piece of design that tests the difference between something and cheap. The orange switch heere is the key to it all. Genius. This house is an hour north from the city and is auctioning mostly cheap shit, best of which are a group of Baroque frames in the <$50 range, all sold separately. This one’s $50… I rate it…. decent deal.
NAPA banner advertisement, LA from Fort Wayne In.: LA.c is steady with posters and vinyl banners, which seem to have a rudderless, disconnected market in general. Can’t really buy things like these anywhere. But the non-bourgeois theme here makes it perfect for a garage sale price. The red car is a GTO, which is nice. The house also has nice framed prints, a football phone and a few old portable TVs, which I always thought would take off but haven’t. $10
Paul McCobb wall mounted console, LA from Freeport ME: More McCobb, I think he’s been in the past two issues. From 1953, this is a harsh one and predates, spiritually, the grey Knoll office systems I love from 40 years later and which feature in better Yakuza films. Part of a really good auction: cool Japanese flatware — Anascapa, new to me — an Eames lounger with no arms, some good German silverware, a breathtaking Margie Heymann-Marks bowl, cheap Native art, reference books, Swid Powell, pottery… worth a look. $700, could fit in a U-Haul
Hull pottery vases, LA from Freeport ME: Hull pottery out of Ohio: Lots of stoneware, art pottery, best era’s from the ‘20s (to me), too many designs later. Most Hull I’ve run across at fleas and on auction is embellished, or chintzy: reliefs, ornamentations, bad colors. Not these, which are nice and simple. $20
Antonio Citterio for Kartell table, LA from Roswell, GA: My favorite thing in an auction is when a Coke can is included in the picture for measurement. Bottles tend to feature at houses selling more anonymously designed item: old wooden rockers, granny mirrors, anonymous paintings. I don’t love Citterio’s work — it skirts regency — but this table is nice and harsh. Weird to see it against an old-timey bottle. House’s other auctions don’t have Coke cans but bottle, red delicious apple, and a woman about 2/3 the height of a grandfather clock. $800, not cheap, but a fair for this era of Kartell, to me
Gerrit Rietveld side table, LA from Roswell, GA: In the ‘50s you could go to Rietveld’s office in Utrecht and he’d send you to his furniture maker who would make you one of his chairs if you wanted. It’d cost about $45. This auction, same house as above, has that chair and this table, which you never see. Cheap, perfect. $500
Richard Ginori fruit and flowers porcelain dinnerware, LA from Orlando: Past Ginori fruit sets have topped out at $2400-3500, none going for less than 500. This isn’t a full set, but at $90, without many watchers, could be a steal. Not many deals in America anymore, just the dark spaces around very expensive porcelain dinnerware.
if you feel like spending cash to ship something overseas but still want a deal buy:
Giovanni Offredi letto daybed for Saporiti, LA from Turin: A stark, tough, pretty, fine, almost bird-like daybed. There’s another daybed in the same auction by Offredi where the headboard angles back at 90° — it’s hideous. Seller has this NyChair precursor as well. The house offers in-house shipping, so there’s a non-zero chance this is could come in at under a G, 500€ right now.
How use Liveauctioneers: LA is an online portal for actual auction houses. Sign up with your credit card, then bid (facing both digital and live bidders). To actually buy an item: register for that auction before you bid. There’s a register button/prompt on every item page. Houses usually accept a registration right away, or within a day. Then you bid. Ideally live. When auctions are live, it goes to a pop-up window. Like eBay, there’s no secret to bidding: if you want something, be prepared to spend.
Most bids occur live, though prices occasionally creep up before auctions. Sometimes items go for a lot of money, sometimes they don’t, sometimes they don’t sell. Not much different from eBay. Because of buyers’ premiums (a fee), usually around 25%, and shipping or pick-up, expect to pay more than list. After winning you have about a week to get the item or arrange shipping. Auction houses will recommend third party shippers, and occasionally ship themselves (if they do, LA says so: In-House Shipping will be below the register button). Sometimes it’s affordable, sometimes it’s not. Picking it up yourself is cheapest.
As with anything, insane deals are rare, nice deals are occasional, and fair prices are frequent. If you have more questions about LA, email me.