What is this bedroom suite worth?
June 30, 2016 1:47 PM   Subscribe

My 75-year-old mother is selling her home in NJ and moving to TN to live closer to me (hooray!) She has a bedroom suite that may be worth some money, but neither of us is attached to it and we'd prefer not to move it. I'm chasing leads for consignment shops and the like, but haven't the faintest clue how much a suite like this would sell for. Details and pics below the fold.

The suite was bought in 1962, and was made by the Davis Cabinet Company as part of their Lillian Russell collection. It's solid walnut and in seriously excellent condition; the only condition note is that it's been in the home of a smoker for pretty much all of its life. It's not visibly discolored but I'm sure it will need some remediation for odor.

The suite consists of five pieces: I know there's no blue book value for old furniture, but what do you think a suite like this would be worth? We don't need to wring every dime out of the sale but I'd hate to get taken.
posted by workerant to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you looked at this webpage? Davis Cabinet Co FAQ It looks like they still make that set.
posted by tman99 at 1:52 PM on June 30, 2016

There's a similar set here for $3,900.
posted by essexjan at 2:06 PM on June 30, 2016

I'm not sure you should get your hopes up... Your pics reminded me of this article I read the other day:

Stuff it: Millennials nix their parents' treasures
Stephanie Kenyon, 60, the owner of Sloans & Kenyon Auctioneers and Appraisers in Chevy Chase, says the market is flooded with boomer rejects. “Hardly a day goes by that we don’t get calls from people who want to sell a big dining room set or bedroom suite because nobody in the family wants it. Millennials don’t want brown furniture[...].” The formal furniture is often sold at bargain prices, or if it’s not in good shape, it might go straight to the dump.
You could also try just keeping an eye on eBay to see what things are going for. Someone's asking $4650 for a similar set on eBay... set a watch on it and see what it actually goes for (if it sells).
posted by mskyle at 2:10 PM on June 30, 2016 [3 favorites]

There are also listings on eBay, which should give you some idea of how much to ask.
posted by essexjan at 2:11 PM on June 30, 2016

I have been so far down the rabbit hole orchestrating this move I hadn't done even obvious searches. You all are being very helpful.
posted by workerant at 2:11 PM on June 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

You can use the "advanced" search function to look at completed listings - this will give you an idea of whether things sell or not. It doesn't show you what "best offer" was accepted on best offer auctions, but it will show the dollar amount on regular auctions and buy-it-now, plus it will give you a sense of how many of these are hitting the market.

That is the most adorable set in the world, actually, and I am thankful that I do not live in NJ and cannot, even in dreams, spend money on it.
posted by Frowner at 2:15 PM on June 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Also, honestly, have you just tried Craigslist? You won't get as much for it as if you waited for the theoretical best buyer, but at least it will go to a decent home.

I had a very sad conversation with an antique-picker friend about how you can barely give away furniture now unless it's midcentury modern, which seems a terrible shame. Whatever you do, don't just leave it out in the rain to decay - there is a limited stock of decent wood furniture in the world and even if your furniture goes through several cycles of sale and donation at the Salvation Army it will eventually find a good home.
posted by Frowner at 2:20 PM on June 30, 2016 [6 favorites]

I would be really surprised if you got more than $1000 for the set. It looks like there was a full bedroom set that sold for $900 on Ebay, although that may be somewhat low to account for shipping. That style of furniture is really not fashionable right now although I agree, it's adorable.

I've been trying to furnish a house via estate sales and auctions lately and fortunately I happen to like "brown furniture" because I'm seeing a lot of very nice things go inexpensively. In 20 years it will be in style again but right now no one wants to buy the stuff that was in their grandma's house when they were growing up.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 2:34 PM on June 30, 2016

This is not worth any money.

If it were modern in style, it might be worth something, because Midcentury Modern furniture is trendy. (It would definitely be worth something if it was of Danish design and manufacture.)

But the colonial look? Sorry. This is garage sale furniture, not antique store furniture.

I'd sell the bed frame for $300, the vanity and dresser for $100 each, and the nightstands for $50 each.

For what it's worth I got a slightly more cheaply made version of those nightstands free on the sidewalk on large item trash day.
posted by Sara C. at 2:46 PM on June 30, 2016 [5 favorites]

I really love that set. If it were near me I'd pay $1000, considering poorly made stuff I am seeing in stores are about 4K for a set.
posted by ReluctantViking at 2:57 PM on June 30, 2016

I'm not sure that "no one" is buying that type of thing -- I just sold an Ethan Allen colonial style end table, just the one little lonesome piece by itself, which I'd bought four years ago at a resale shop for $30 -- for $100 on Craigslist. And it was pretty scratched up. I'd probably ask $1000 for the whole set. I feel like being from the home of a smoker might really be the issue here, but who knows. Put it on Craigslist and see if you get any bites.
posted by jabes at 2:57 PM on June 30, 2016

"No one is buying this stuff" is coming from antiques dealers who are sad they can't trick people into thinking this is a valuable antique. Which they are able to do with more modern-styled furniture from this era.

You will definitely find a buyer, but you will be selling it at secondhand furniture prices, not priceless collectible prices.

For what it's worth, as someone who gets almost all their furniture secondhand, I love it when I see pieces like this on Craigslist or in thrift stores. Regular people need furniture too, you know.
posted by Sara C. at 3:02 PM on June 30, 2016 [3 favorites]

Somewhere In Time I bought some furniture from this business in New Brunswick and they were great. I believe the owner's name is Lenny. Very fair, kind and progressive. Best of luck with your mom's move.
posted by effluvia at 3:57 PM on June 30, 2016

I love this furniture, but it is more like late Victorian Reproduction. I think you would eventually have a buyer (I love good wood furniture) but, like the others have said, more at estate/garage sale prices. Millennials seem to only want Ikea or Mid-Century Modern.

A local consignment shop may give you a few hundred dollars for it, but it just depends on what furniture is selling for there and what is popular in your area. You could advertise it on Craigslist at a price you find on the web and see what happens, if you want to sell it yourself. Would probably be less work to call a furniture consigner or antiques dealer.
posted by bessiemae at 4:02 PM on June 30, 2016

It's way cute, if list it on Craigslist for $800 and see what happens.
posted by pintapicasso at 4:15 PM on June 30, 2016

It's worth exactly what someone will pay. Ask $750, take $500. Ebay asks aren't super useful, messaging completed sales on Etsy is how my wife developes her prices. Good luck. Sold my parent's really nice solid wood half century old bedroom set for $200, had to help the guy schlep it.
posted by fixedgear at 5:23 PM on June 30, 2016

If you're willing to forgo some money for convenience and the knowledge that you're helping a worthy nonprofit, you could consider donating it to someplace like a Habitat for Humanity Restore.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 7:42 PM on June 30, 2016

This is worth, at most, like $500 for the whole set. I used to vend at flea markets, for years.

I had a couch that would match this style pretty well and everyone and their dog said they wanted it right now. It was HELL to sell, and when it finally did I only got like $200

This is the kind of stuff that sits in antique shops/vintage stores for years.
posted by emptythought at 11:32 PM on June 30, 2016 [3 favorites]

I'm sure it will need some remediation for odor.

I think some of the optimistic commenters above may be missing this bit. I'm not aware of any method by which a regular person can get a lifetime of cigarette smell out of a porous substance like wood.
posted by fingersandtoes at 12:56 PM on July 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

Two kinds of people buy used furniture: thrifty folks and dealers/resellers/auction houses. Dealers will pay the absolute minimum, because they're in business and they need to make a profit, fair enough. They're going to offer you a couple or few hundred for it, and, in my experience, many of them are ruthless negotiators and rather unpleasant to deal with. If it were me in your shoes, I'd think about that and be prepared to sell it for what must seem an outrageously low amount, to a private purchaser. I would advertise it on CL immediately, with a glowing and detailed description and a bunch of photos including the maker's marks and drawer interiors (maybe say something about looking for a loving home) and say you'll take offers. Sift through the emails and decide who you want to sell it to. It's a beautiful set -- sell it to someone who'll appreciate it.

Re: Smoke smell. You are not obliged to mention this. Clean the surfaces and drawers, perhaps put a nice drawer liner in them. This is finished wood, and after airing it out and cleaning, there should be no appreciable odor to it. My ex-husband ran a vintage furniture store for some years and odors were never a big deal with wood items. (Upholstered items, hoo boy, yeah)
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 2:44 PM on July 1, 2016

Exactly - almost everyone who will buy out-of-fashion wood furniture is either uninterested in style or a bohemian sort of person (like my antique-picker friend who was always picking up lovely stuff for a song and then trying to unload it on me - for free if I didn't want to pay. Sadly I ran out of house room.)

The people who will love your furniture will pay up to two or three hundred for a large, good piece but cannot afford more than that. I know this because this describes me and my friends - we will look at the cheaper kind of antique places for bargains or else we'll thrift or garage sale. This is because we are people for whom three hundred dollars is a lot of money. We do want your furniture - feverishly, in fact! - but we can't afford the kind of prices you would like best.

(I remember when mid-century modern was Not Yet A Thing - that was the time when I got my midcentury pieces, mostly at the thrift store.)
posted by Frowner at 2:53 PM on July 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

« Older Amazing dental topical anesthetic: what is it?   |   Living with an alcoholic boyfriend Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.