How to score cheap antiques or design online!

The internet has allowed us to serve our ever increasing demands and needs faster than ever before. If you decide you want a Queen Anne chest or Louis Seize sofa in your bedroom, you can easily get it within a week. In the pre-internet days you had to wait until your local antiques store stumbled across one. Or you had to drive to France, the home of real flea markets. An alternative was to take a sudden and feigned interest in your great aunt so that when the old lady finally decided to kick the bucket you would inherit her furniture. Glad those days are over right?

Now, there are online auctions and flea markets like eBay and for Dutch readers; Marktplaats.
Surely there are German, French, Italian, English and other equivalents so please read on.

A good tip when cruising the web for great finds is to misspell what you are looking for.
Instead of Louis Seize search for Louis Seise or Lois Seize. People that make such mistakes usually don’t know the value of antiques so might think $100 is a huge deal for that old steh-im-weg in their basement or attic.

If I type Louis Seise in Google I get around 150 hits. One of them brings me to this website which is the private collection of a certain Mr Hansen from Denmark. Mmm… maybe he does know his way around antiques…However, it looks like all these chairs could be well made replica.

I really like this Louis Seise chair!

Painted Louis 'Seise' chair

Painted Louis 'Seise' chair

And this Gustavian piece. Nice!

Gustavian arm chair

Gustavian arm chair

Let’s look at the Dutch site Marktplaats. Louis Seise doesn’t return any hits. ‘Antieke sofa’ (antique sofa) secures 31 results. On of them with a vague picture of a sofa that looks like it rolled out of an Eastern European furniture factory yesterday! The kind that was all the rage for spoiled children’s rooms in the eighties. Dear sellers, just because it’s old and made of wood doesn’t make it an antique!

I did find this fantastic sofa that is listed to be a Biedermeier…. I’ll have to do a bit of research but if that is true, the asking price of €895 is a good deal!

Is it Biedermeijer, Biedermeier or Neithermeier?

Is it Biedermeijer, Biedermeier or Neithermeier?

Then let’s look for a true designer piece; the Barcelona Chair by Mies van der Rohe. Unfortunately everybody on Marktplaats knows how to spell Barcelona…. The differences in asking prices are vast though. Ranging anywhere between €450 and €2500… Make sure it’s genuine when you score one for under €1000!

Looking for Philip Starck or Phillipe Starck brings back a few hits too. In general the rule is to be creative and try other key words than the actual name of the designer. Instead of Barcelona Chair type in modern leather chair or design chair. Also, don’t be scared of a little drive to the other end of your country or state. Remember; in the end it will be all worth it if you can tell your friends that yes, that is a genuine Charles Eames and yes, you bought it for €350 and drove 3 hours to get it.

Happy hunting, and please share your stories with me!

4 responses to “How to score cheap antiques or design online!

  1. Hunting does pay.

    I currently have six (6!) Le Corbusier LC2 chairs, all originals (produced by Cassina, Italy).

    Retail price is currently 3.775 euro but the highest price I paid thus far is 1.600 euro for a brand new chair ( – in England, the credit crisis does have some great side effects). The others are used hand but I’ve bought them for as little as 625 euro …

    You have to check the 2nd hand advertisments very frequently, bus it really pays to invest some time in order to get the good stuff for little prices.

    BTW Pieter: searching via ‘Louis Seise’ will indeed not generate any results; it’s ‘Louis SeiZe’.

  2. binnenkijken

    Thanks Docters for sharing your story. Bet your house will look amazing when it’s done! Keep us informed on any other finds and please do share pictures too!

    By the way; I am very much aware of the spelling of Louis Seize…. That’s why I suggest to spell it with an S instead. People that put their antiques up for sale without even bothering to check the right spelling usually don’t know what the value is, or are just not too bothered. Both dead cert ways to score a great deal. Better read the whole story next time… 😉

  3. You can sooo forget being the first to come and take pictures of the new house …

    What I meant to say was: I CHECKED, and indeed ‘Louis Seise’ will indeed not generate any results; it’s ‘Louis SeiZe’ you want.

    The point is this: anyone who knows / thinks / hopes that they’re selling Louis Seize will probably get the spelling right. The fact that ‘Louis Seise’ will only get 150 Google hits (see, I did read your story!) instead of the millions (no, I didn’t check that) that ‘Louis Seize’ will generate kinda proves that.

    But don’t get me wrong, ignorance is indeed bliss. Exploiting human ignorance is a very good way of making a profit. But you have to know what you’re doing. Let me explain.

    If you want to make sure you buy good pieces you have to invest some time into learning about the particular style, period, materials etc. Pieter suggests this as well. In the case of Louis XVI: oak – not chestnut, chisselled marble – not sawn, gilt wood – not gold painted, etc. I know this stuff because I did recently buy and sell a Louis Seize demi-lune side table after doing my homework ( – and yes, I made a profit).

    As a consequence, I do regularly check for new Louis XVI stuff on Marktplaats. Searching via Louis Seize does generate several dozens of hits, but here’s the funny thing: not all of the pieces are Louis Seize. Again, know what to look for and you’ll avoid spending your cash on a fake (or a 1880’s Eclectic piece or whatever).

    Reurning to the original point Pieter was making, there are indeed ways of finding original XVI’s not following the obvious route. Try searching ‘Barok’ for instance. A lot of new junk, but some good pieces. Or just browse throught the Antiques / Tables section. If you know what to look for, you might spot a few interesting things.

    Anyhow, do your homework and be creative. Now, if you’ll excuse me, i’ll go hunt for Le Corbusier again …

  4. binnenkijken

    Aaaah, I stand corrected 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s