Monday, May 09, 2011

Educate yourself before you buy antiques or collectibles

The description on this pair of "antique leather panels" read as follows; "Pair of 19th C. Framed Embossed Leather Panels
Continental circa 1800's-Leather Panels
Pair of fine leather embossed panels that are mounted on an antique gold colored silk background. The leather pieces are framed with the most exquisite silver leaf frames. These panels can be hung as artwork in almost any location of your home." The price for the pair, a whooping $7,500 and this was the sale price.

I was asked by the purchaser of these "leather panels" if the price she paid was fair and she asked me just exactly what are these "panels."

Once I recovered from seeing the price she paid I began my expert appraisal of the "leather panels."

First I looked very closely at the edges and noticed the tack holes and by looking at the overall shape I knew immediately that these were leather chair bottoms. Beside the tack holes along the edge you can see where the leather was folded around the edge of the chair and tacked to the bottom.

They were probably painted after they were removed from the chairs because of the overall evenness of the paint color; there are no visible signs of wear as there would be if they were painted while in use on the chairs.

They very well could be from the 1800s and probably European from looking at the design. I think what happened is someone owned the chairs that these seats were on. The chairs were falling a part so they removed the bottoms, painted them and had them framed. You cannot see the frame in the above photo but it is a very contemporary frame, I actually have a couple of botanical prints in the same frame. I had them framed at a large craft store about 20 years ago.

These leather seats have been around for a long time, at least since the mid 1800s.Some were put on as the original seat in a chair but many more were sold as replacements for damaged cane seats. One could go to the "General Store" and buy one of several shapes and trim to fit over the broken cane seat and attach with the brass upholstery nails. You can get new leather or a leather "look a like" today but the choice of designs is limited.

As to whether or not these framed leather chair seats are worth $7,500.... hell no. I guess I should not say that as someone paid that very price for these items. I believe that the "dealer" who sold these pieces did not reveal the whole truth about the items, or did not even know the truth and just put a price on them and happened to luck out with someone purchasing them.

This is what gets under my skin, with the Internet we have so many un-educated people professing to be antique dealers when they don't carnival glass from depression glass. They then take advantage of buyers who are trusting the so called dealers to know what they are selling and putting the right price on the item.

Needless to say once the buyer got the inside skinny on the leather chair seats she was pretty pissed off.

*** I am an expert in the antiques category of, there is a small fee for asking questions but please feel free to check it out using the box on the sidebar here on this blog.


Velma said...

$7,500!!!!! Poor person must feel so silly overpaying like that. What a great eye you have for seeing that they use to be chairs (i think your right). No artist name sketched in?

LimogesBoxCollector said...

The idea of pricing antiques has always baffled me as there is not really any standards. I would rather work with items that have more of a guideline for pricing.

Jesse said...

I couldn't agree more. I love the piece in the photo, truly unique!

Al said...

Wow, that is a hard lesson to learn for that antique buyer. Although, to pay that much money for something, they must've really loved them.

Alex said...

The piece in the picture is lovely just but shows you have to do research on the pieces you buy and make sure you buy from legitimate dealers.

English Classics said...

Ouch! Turning a seat into artwork? Sounds like a Warhol precedent.

YONKS said...

The problem is that, in the UK, at least, anyone can become an antique dealer as it is entirely unregulated. However, regulated or not, I don't know how the seller of these chair seats can sleep at night. We can all be fooled, I have many times. As stated in previous comments, make sure you do your reasearch either side of a sale, before you buy and before you sell.
Glad I found your blog. I am your newest follower :-)

Vivianne said...

Very helpful post. It is so important to be a knowledgeable shopper when it comes to antiques and collectibles. It is a great feeling to get an authentic item for a great price!

antique beds said...

It is necessary to know everything about the antiques before buy antiques or collectibles. Price of antique is most important thing. Thanks for provide the great information that is really helpful for anyone to buy antiques.