Our First Auction Item!

Cynthia Hoeft

Posted on December 13 2020

Our First Auction Item!

We are excited about our first item being showcased in an auction house in Los Angeles on December 15th at Bonhams!

A few months ago when we started this adventure of searching for items to resell we came across this small black box at an estate sale in Tacoma. This was our first estate sale that we had arrived at early in the morning after the address was released to find out that we would be number 48 out of about 100 people waiting to get through the doors. (Since then we have learned to arrive earlier!) 

When you are searching through a house with multiple levels and many people all on the hunt for the valuable things that will become someone else's new treasure it can be daunting. Where do you start, is the basement where you can find the hidden treasures over looked by others or will you just find some friendly spiders or bad red wine that didn't age well? Does the laundry room cupboards hold treasures that were buried long ago hidden behind the towels? In this case a vintage Tacoma Dome Pepsi bottle. Do you crawl on the floor to get to the boxes under tables that no one has opened yet? 

On this particular day patience was key. As everyone rummaged and walked out with multiple finds, I waited and kept going back through each room. Not because I knew there was more but because I was new at this and wanted to ensure I didn't overlook something. I kept bringing out little trinkets to add to my pile in the front yard, telling myself I should probably stop. Then it was just one more walk through the house, and here I saw that they had pulled out a bunch of new items that had been in boxes under the tables, nothing priced yet. I started loading up my arms with little trinket boxes, some from Italy, some made of carved wood, sturdy decoupaged paper, and this one, this small black heavy box that simply said, take me take me! I went to the friendly guy who had been helping me, who was probably tired of me bringing a bunch of unpriced items to him. He picked up the first box, light, old Italian paper box, he looked at me and priced it for $3, then he picked up the next carved gold wood one, didn't change the price dial and priced it at $3 as well, and same with the next. The black box was next, he lifts it and says, " this one is heavy" in which I responded it was full of old matches, he smiles and says "ok" then marks it for $3 too. 

That day I walked out of there with 4 overflowing boxes of items spending $240, hoping I had made the right choices in spending money to make money. When I got home I went about my normal procedure of cleaning items up, taking pictures and measurements and then posting them on Facebook and Offer Up. Yet this item I didn't post because I was determined to figure out the marking on the bottom. I spent hours searching, googling key words, sifting through pictures, trying to make out Asian maker marks. I finally came across a similar item on a London auction house, that yay, had the same mark!! Mystery solved, it was a Komai box, inlaid with 24k gold, made in the late 1800's to early 1900's. I rushed to put it on the website, listing it for $250, thinking this was going to be a great score. Then Manny tells me stop, lets look into this more. He contacts the auction house in London, who tells him it is worth $800-1500. Our online appraisal says it it only worth about $100-200. I am impatient to post it thinking that it isn't that big of a deal but once again Manny asks that we wait. So up to Seattle we go the next day in search of someone who can help us value the box, or maybe even buy it from us for $800. Thankfully Manny is persistent in finding the right person and comes across the contact information for Bonhams.

Well here we are a few months later, having patiently waited for this Tuesday to arrive. Our little black box now sits on Sunset Drive in LA, waiting for 10am Tuesday December 15th to signify the start of an auction, where our $3 black box will have a starting bid of $1500. 

Morals of this story, be patient, if something calls to you, even if you are unsure what it is, grab it, don't rush, and always keep looking to find the unique, the older, the treasures among the piles. We can't wait to see what this treasure brings us on Tuesday! 

Bonhams : a gilt-damascened hinged box Meiji (1868-1912) or Taisho (1912-1926) era, early 20th century, Komai studio

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