Sunday, January 25, 2009

Biggest Rip-Off on the Web

I LOVE antiquing. I love it so so so so much. So I was thrilled when I got an email from 1stdibs.com announcing their Saturday Sales, "join us... as we re-imagine the tradition of weekend yard and barn sales."

Now 1stdibs is the BIGGEST rip-off going. Seriously. I think that the dealers are actually delusional. There are some nice pieces, but I honestly think the dealers are egging each other on, putting a price on something to see if some idiot will actually buy it. And I am a well traveled antiques aficionado, toted around since infancy with a mother who poked in them all, all over the country and beyond, so I feel confident in knowing what is a fair price. If something is fabulous, unique, beautiful quality, it deserves a high price. However many of these dealers are actually offering new pieces as antiques, so buyer beware!

My favorite culprit of this is Liza Sherman Antiques. Now Ms. Sherman has a lovely eye and cleverly merchandises her shop. Clearly she is very impressed with "the power of the object trouvé..." and herself, for that matter, if she thinks an object trouvé is found at a Merchandise Mart.

Take her Belgian Bricklayer Table, for instance, supposedly from the 1950s and without a price (read: expensive). ANY designer knows this is courtesy of one of my favorite dealers, Bobo Intriguing Objects.



Or any of the pieces she has selected from Sausalito-based company, Roost. You can buy one of these delightful crocheted lamps from Ms. Sherman for $1200, or you can patronize one of my favorite vendors, Rian Rae (one of the nicest, most accommodating dealers you'll ever meet), for $224.



Many of her pieces are from another craftsman and industrial design maven, Jason Wein of Cleveland Art. The lighting she showcases is cleverly masked as vintage/antique by saying that it is "20th c" and the condition is "good." These are hand-blown, organic, tactile and beautiful light fixtures. There is no "good" to the condition - they're brand new.



I met these guys this summer at Brimfield and they are a) talented and b) super nice. Take a look at their inventory - their pricing is also reasonable for the well-edited selection. Love the rolling cart as a coffee table, and the oak display cabinet for my ironstone.



And don't forget one of these for laundry...



For those east coasters, ask if they'll drive out your piece to Brimfield and you can pick it up there with a truck. Save a LOT on shipping and get a bunch of things...

Now in fairness to Lady Liza, she DOES have some fun things. Their prices are just outrageous. But take her ideas and start scouting on Ebay. Like this graphic display of vintage sand shovels, selling for only $2650...


Head to a REAL flea market - and save yourself about $2500.

12 comments:

Cote de Texas said...

omfg - spare me. she is the worst offender.

another item seen for every price point at "good" antique stores - the white chipped urns from...Wisteria!!!!

do they think we are fools?

you should send this article to Mr. Bruno - I would if I were you. He should now what is going on there. It's truly fraud.

milkandhoney said...

I agree. I think it's borderline fraud too. I truly think that they think that we're clueless. However perhaps not so clueless because those items have been lingering on their website for a while. By the way I LOVE your blog - have followed it for a while.

milkandhoney said...

Stay tuned for my next exposé... it's also a good one.

Hill Country House Girl said...

I am so glad you posted this information! I, to, am an antique lover, collector and dealer. It makes me crazy when people misrepresent their merchandise! I would much rather someone tell me something is new, but they are including it in their inventory of antiques because they think it is a great piece, wonderful reproduction, whatever - just don't lie to me! Thank you so much - and Bobo and Roost are also favorites of mine with fabulous things - just not antiques!

Patricia Gray said...

What a shame that the public is getting ripped off. I heard a story of someone buying an vintage Eames chair from a web-site for a very good price. When it arrived it was in a shoe box...it was a miniture replica. Good for you for exposing this type of dishonesty!

Devon said...

People like this make us non-designer/decorator folks terrified to purchase anything. It's how Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware has taken over our world. Expose the fraud my friend!!

milkandhoney said...

Having worked for Pottery Barn, I can assure you that they manufacture almost all of their own goods (mostly because they need to keep their margins higher). The designers there are really a wonderful bunch - good, talented, interesting people. Obviously they are inspired by things in the marketplace by other designers, but that's just retail and happens in all sectors - fashion, etc.

I am not sure why the 1stdibs thing bothers me so much, but it does!

Lauren said...

Wow. Thanks for sharing. Kind of scary, huh??

I also love all your sources & the items you picked out.

for the love of a house said...

I had no idea...Thanks for exposing this. I have never purchased from 1stdibs myself, but did just assume that all their dealers were on the up and up. Wrong...

mary said...

WOW - have been off-line for awhile and am just catching up - this is scary! thanks for the info

Sarah's Fab Day said...

So, so true.

Zane Wooder said...

I hate it when people over charge for things. Why can't people just charge fair prices.

zane