"I do not claim that I can tell a story as it ought to be told. I only claim to know how a story ought to be told." -Mark Twain









8.21.2011

The Secret is Out!

When I was a new bride my Hubby
and I went to an antique auction.
I don't remember there being any certain item
we were looking for.
We just enjoyed going to them.
This was over 30 years ago, long before it was "vogue" to
attend auctions and sales and be thrifty.
We were newly married and knew we 
could afford the things we found at auctions.
It was an added bonus that we really
liked the funky old things we bought.
This particular auction was at a big warehouse 
in a small town.
Because the venue was so large
the furniture did not seem big.
I saw this armoire and liked it so
I decided to bid.
I bid and there were a few others bidding 
against me.
Then it was just me and one man.
I kept bidding.
My Hubby was watching me but never 
told me to stop.
I kept bidding.
Finally,
the auctioneer shouted out,
"YEP" and pointed at me.
I had won the bid for the armoire.
What I didn't mention was that the armoire 
I bought 
was a little over 10 feet tall
and four and a half feet wide.
It was massive.

And solid English walnut.
And it weighed well over 200 pounds.
Ha!
And it was all mine.
The doors have a special inlay,
also a special walnut.
The middle piece has the 
special inlay as well.
The armoire was in perfect condition 
when I bought it.
It did need the old varnish stripped off,
but besides that there was nothing wrong.
We later did strip it all down 
and bring the natural beauty of the walnut back
without a lot of shellac.
Each door has a (beautiful) lock on it
that actually locks.
This is the back of the lock.
A small piece of metal 
slides down and fits 
into the hole pictured below.
Simple and wonderful.

Another wonderful feature of the
armoire is that there is not a single
nail or screw 
holding it together.
Not ONE.
Nada.
Zip.
None.
Zero.

Weren't you wondering how we would 
load and move a piece of furniture
that was over 10 feet tall and
almost 5 feet wide
and well over 200 pounds?
Well the answer is, 
they knew how to make furniture 
in the old days!
The armoire comes apart in to ten pieces.
It has three shelves (that were probably added later),
for a total of 13 pieces.
The two pictures above are little braces that cover
joints that butt into each other.
The two particular braces
are ones we made, but
 we patterned after the braces
that came with the armoire.
(I photographed the 'new' ones
only because they showed up much better
for photographs.)
You cannot see any of them when the 
armoire is put together.
The doors are held on
by these old pins.
Those screws belong to the pin hardware.
The two pieces of pins slide together
and allow the doors
to swing open and shut.

Every single place a board 
connects to another board
there are 
pegs and holes
that allign
and keep the pieces together. 
It takes two or three people 
to put it together.
Two put the pieces together
while the third person holds everything in place!
The joints on the header piece
have tiny, tiny
dovetail notches
 that keep them together.
The header has 
graceful curves on each side.

The back is actually three pieces that I have tried to 
show in this photo and the one below.
They slide together
tongue and groove,
(much like flooring does).
You actually have to look 
close and hard
to see that it is not one massive piece.

The bottom is one massive (and very heavy) piece.
It has two big drawers,
each with the 
acorn and leaf 
drawer pulls.
Actually, that is why I liked the 
armoire to begin with! 
They reminded me of my grandmother!
It is such a great versatile piece.
We have had it in the dining room
full of dishes and platters.
I have had it in the living room 
full of old books.
Every Christmas we clean it out
and fill it with old Santas.
The day I bought it,
I had a cousin at the auction as well.
He has a degree in architecture
and he told me to hang on 
to the piece and not ever get rid of it.
He said the size and the detail
in which it was put together
were hard to find.
As I was paying, that same day, a gentleman 
came up to me and offered me
$2000.00. On the spot!
That is pretty tempting
to two college students.
But we did not cave.
In fact, we knew if someone was offering
that much an hour after the purchase,
then we had a great deal.
(The gentleman had not been there when 
the armoire had sold. Thank goodness!!!)
A few years later when we lived in Houston
we saw a very, very similar armoire for
$6000.00.
We smiled.
The only thing our armoire is missing
is the little "crown" on the top.
It has two holes on top, so we know
at one time it had one.
It probably had the 
acorns and leaves pattern as well.
Maybe someday we will find a replacement.

Are you wondering how much 
I paid that day when I 
kept bidding and bidding?
Well, I guess I'll let the secret out.
After all, it was over 30 years ago...
and I have turned down many offers 
on the piece.
It has a lot of sentimental memories attached to it now.
....Am I driving you crazy?
OK.
I'll
tell
YOU
the
secret.
paid
...
....
......
......
$140.00
Yep.
You read it right.
And I never regretted spending 
one dime of that! 
Shhhhh! 

30 comments:

  1. No way! that's a great price. what a great piece!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Gorgeous knock down wardrobe!! And wow! Even 30 years ago you got a wonderful deal at $140! I can tell you, I rushed through reading...looking for what you paid!:-)

    We used to go to auctions too. It was a great way to spend a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a wonderful story! The best part is how much you have enjoyed this beautiful piece over the years! And it's great that you recognized its value when you were young. I don't think I would have.

    ReplyDelete
  4. oooh what a wonderful story and a great piece of furniture to pass on.
    I will be honored if you will share it with our readers in our linking party at
    http://www.passionatelyartistic.com/2011/08/11-million-visitors-with-new-london-eye.html
    Thank you,
    Maggie
    http://passionatelyartistic.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a beautiful treasure you have! I have never seen an armoire that breaks down like yours. And it's very difficult to find walnut pieces such as yours. I have been attending auctions for a long time, too. In fact, I'm headed to one this morning.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Beautiful piece. Perfect for your new home. I bought a retro vintage sofa yesterday and I'm not sure yet what I'm going to do with it....lol!! The Lucy saga continues.

    xo

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  7. love it. My father had an old Model A Ford that people kept trying to buy from him and he died with it still in his garage. My brother now has it. What a wonderful thing to pass down to your children.

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  8. Seriously?? That is an incredible price for such an awesome piece. I paid more than that for my icky old oak coffee table that I still have hanging around this place. I really love your armoire.

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  9. Wow, what an absolutely fabulous piece. So enjoyed reading your story...just fascinating!
    ~Pam
    pamspaintparlor.typepad.com

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  10. What agreat story and yes, it's gorgeous, you did well buying it and keeping it! This type of vintage pieces are hard to find, we have a buffet from my mil, it was English and it's ansambled like this, we love it and yours was a steal!! Have a nice week. I just dropped from TTT at Marty's. FABBY

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  11. Over from WUW.. that is one gorgeous piece of furniture. Aamazing details of how it was put together.

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  12. What a great story and gorgeous piece. What a steal on that, too. You should get it appraised and insured if you haven't. I need a link to the party added in your post, please.

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  13. Oh boy, that was an amazing bargain! Your piece is stunning. I love the story about how you purchased it too. I can't wait to see what it looks like all decorated for Christmas!

    Best wishes,
    Natasha.

    ReplyDelete
  14. SHUT UP!!!!!! $140.00????????
    I am a HUGE fan of auctions and go to them all the time. And this was a STEAL! The whole time I was reading your post I was wondering how much you got it for!!

    A GREAT story behind this exquisite piece of furniture!! The craftsmanship is just stunning!!

    Lucky you!

    Lou Cinda :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. A stunning piece, at an amazing price. Good deal.

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  16. What a steal. It's priceless just like your story to go along with it!

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  17. OK, shhhhhhhhh your secret is safe with me :) I won't tell.

    Cute story and piece

    Visiting from Miss Mustard Seed's Linky Party tonight
    ~Suzanne from NW Illinois

    ReplyDelete
  18. Wow....you scored on this armoire!!!! It is a beautiful piece of furniture and so well crafted. You are very lucky to have it.

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  19. What an awesome piece & at that price....woohoo! Looks very similar to how they made the good German furniture. Must be an European thang.

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  20. Great story! Thanks for sharing. It's so exciting to hear stories like this. I am going to an auction tomorrow. Wish me luck!
    Blessings

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  21. $140!? That's amazing. What a great memory too :)
    I'm your newest follower!

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  22. What a story and what an heirloom. I can see why you never sold it...thank you for linking up to Open House Party. I really appreciate it...please come back next week!

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  23. Wow, what a great buy/find! I have a similar piece, but it is only 5 pieces. Makes me wonder if it has nails. Yours is beautiful. Makes me want to go to auctions! ;o)

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  24. That is truly one gorgeous piece of furniture. I love the story behind the purchase, too. I am awed by the construction; how ingenious our ancestors were.

    We still have some antiques that we purchased as newlyweds, but I can tell you that none of them come close to the beauty or the price of this treasure you have.

    ReplyDelete
  25. What a gorgeous piece of furniture. It was a steal at 140.00!

    ReplyDelete
  26. What an amazing piece of furniture with a wonderful story behind it. I can't believe it has no nails or screws.

    - The Tablescaper

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  27. Anonymous8/28/2011

    wonderful armoire.don't change it's colour.I love oak and walnut. I bought a walnut chippenale livingroom set and i want to refresh it.Is old and has a dark pink tapiserry. I was thinking to clean the wood with steel wool 000 and then wax it. I have 2 pieces of white fabric: one with stripes also white( fabric stripes) and the other has little flowers made the same way. My livingroom has a persian red rug and olive paint on walls. What do you say about my ideas. Your's are wonderful. xo

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  28. Oh my gosh that is amazing. I'm pretty sure I would have thrown a party at the auction after winning it. It's always kinda sad to me when you find a piece that's worth that much, because you know you could sell it and make a lot of money but you also know you'll never be able to afford another one.

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  29. Love how this turned out. BRAVO!

    I wanted to let you know that I've got a great giveaway that ends Friday. It's for $100 to wallquotes.com, and trust me they've got something I know you'll love!

    Stop by and enter ASAP. I'd love to see what you would do with their products! See you soon!

    Artie
    http://niagaranovice.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  30. Fantastic buy, Lo! And it's gorgeous. I wish you had a picture of its original condition.
    I wonder if there's any way to research the piece. Can you find out who made it or what year it was made?
    Wouldn't you love to know more?
    I think you must have a doctorate in shopping and baking!

    ReplyDelete

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