This post is sponsored by LiveAuctioneers, but all opinions expressed are my own
Over the years, I've amassed quite the collection of items from LiveAuctioneers. Today, I thought it would be fun to share my favorite auction winnings, how much I paid for each item, and compare the prices to traditional retail. Most everything I've won falls into the furniture and home decor category, but I've dabbled in jewelry and clothing. I've purchased items as big as a cabinet and as small as a ring.
If you're wondering how to go about shipping large items, I've discussed it in my previous post.
Antique Console Table $125
Before I go further, you may have wondered, “Is LiveAuctioneers legit?” I know some of the deals may sound too good to be true, but the answer is, yes! Since 2002, LiveAuctioneers has been facilitating auction sales for tens of millions of antiques, collectibles, and luxury items every year.
They do not authenticate items first-hand, but if you’re ever on the fence about an item, the best approach would be to message the auction house through LiveAuctioneers’ website and request more information (e.g. condition report, additional photos, measurements, etc). You can also refer to the auction house’s ratings and reviews on LiveAuctioneers. There are hundreds of thousands of items from top-rated auction houses on LiveAuctioneers, and you can use the “Top-Rated” search filter which limits your searches to only these items. All in all, LiveAuctioneers is a trusted source that many design industry professionals like myself rely on to purchase not only unique items cost-effectively (and eco-consciously) but also to source extremely rare, sought-after pieces.
Antique Silver Serving Dome $40
Vintage Malayer Rug $300
LiveAuctioneers is my preferred place to shop because it is the most sustainable way to be a consumer. Whether you're looking for living room furniture or a pair of earrings, you will find unique pieces from a second-hand source. Another reason I love shopping with LiveAuctioneers is that I know the money I'm spending is going towards supporting small businesses. LiveAuctioneers aggregates more than 6,000 auction houses around the world, many of which are small businesses.
Copper Egg Pan Above Range $25
Below, where I can, I will compare the price I paid for an item to a range of retail prices. Target will serve as the low end of the scale, and Restoration Hardware will be the high end. Of course, it is hard to compare apples to apples; something made for the mass market versus a unique auction piece will never align perfectly.
The purpose of this exercise is to expose how much value you get when shopping at auction. Where applicable, I included the shipping price I paid for an item. I did not include the auction premium, which is usually between 20-28%. Alternatively, I did not include the tax/shipping in the retail price range.
If any of these items are interesting to you, I've linked to product categories that you can follow to find something similar on LiveAuctioneers.
Pair Mideramiga Candlesticks: $2
Pair of Candlesticks at retail: $18 - $150
Carved Wooden Two Drawer Side Table: $5
Side Table at retail: $55 - $795
Antique Handmade Wool Runner: $150
Wool Runner at Retail: $129 - $1400
Pair of White Bow Front Chests: $450
Pair of Chests at retail: $400 - $2000
Gold Ornately Detailed Wall Mirror: $40
Gilt mirror at retail: $70 - $745
Pair of English Club Chairs with Slipcovers: $1400 (+ $210 Shipping)
Exact Pair of Chairs at retail: $4,990
This is a unique scenario where we can come close to comparing the auction price to the actual retail price. The chairs I purchased are from William Sonoma Home and retail for $2,495/chair. However, mine are mohair, and these are velvet; mohair is a much more expensive material. Additionally, white slipcovers were included in my auction purchase.
Antique Pine Coffee Table: $275
Wood Coffee Table at retail: $200 - $1800
Folk Art Deer Head: $200
Sorry, no comparison here!
French Pine Bottle Storage Cabinet: $1400 (+ $275 shipping)
Storage Cabinet at retail: $485 - $2800
Large Double Door Cabinet: $225 (+ $175 shipping)
Storage Cabinet at retail: $300 - $2800
Set of Three Bentwood Chairs: $10
Three Bentwood Chairs at retail: $210 - $750
Antique Spindle Chair: $10
Spindle Chair at retail: $90 - $250
Pine Farm Table: $800
Table at retail: $275 - $1800
Painting of Pointer Hunting Dogs: $225
Sorry, no comparison here!
Park Bench: $225
Outdoor Bench at retail: $200 - $2400
PRO TIP: Be willing to reimagine an auction item with a coat of paint or new upholstery. You will get the best deals on items with an undesirable finish. I painted the following three items. I've included the auction picture and an after picture so you can see the transformation!
Century Carved Wooden Side Board: $125
Sideboard at retail: $250 - $2395
Mahogany Toned Circular Wooden End Table: $10
Side Table at retail: $50 - $525
Antique American Empire Four-Poster Bed with Acorn Finials: $50
Four Poster Bed at retail: $300 - $2,900
After seeing the auction prices compared to the retail prices, I hope it is clear how much value you get when shopping at auction. Even if the auction item's price aligned with the low end of the retail price range, you must then compare the quality you're receiving. There is no comparison between a 100-year-old pine coffee table and one made of particleboard.
I've made this handy chart to see how much I saved over time had I furnished my home from a high-end source like Restoration Hardware. As compared to a high-end retailer I've saved over $25,000! I think it's interesting that when we compare the total LiveAuctioneers' price to the total Target price, I only ended up spending $2,300 more, and received pieces with much better quality and character!
I hope this is all sounding really good to you by now! I'd like to make one more note about following searches. In my previous post, I talked about how following searches is the best way to discover items and navigate LiveAuctioneers. Whenever a new item is listed that matches your followed search, you will receive an email. Depending on how many searches you follow, this can amount to a lot of emails a day. If your inbox is already overloaded, I have good news for you! On the homepage of the website, or the discover page of the app iOS and Andriod (which I hope you've downloaded by now!), you'll see "New From Followed Searches." All items that match your saved search criteria will show up here. I check this section every few days so that I never miss a thing.
Lastly, I'd like to stress the environmental benefit of shopping at auction. It's tempting to buy furniture quickly when decorating our homes, but we must slow down and shop with patience. When we shop from a place like Target, we are contributing to the culture of waste. Where do you imagine that side table will be in 10 years? Will it still be in your house? Will you pass it down? Likely not. More likely, it will end up in a landfill and take hundreds, if not thousands of years to decompose; this isn't even considering the amount of pollution, resources, and waste that went into manufacturing said item. When we slow down and take our time decorating our homes, we end up with pieces that could last our lifetime, that our grandchildren might fondly use, and maybe even their grandchildren...