Why do prices vary so much online for standard G Plan , McIntosh and Danish pieces ?
We are often contacted by people who have things to sell and have tried to research values before they do so , then start asking the above question ! I’m not surprised as i’m constantly amazed at why some people are asking as much as they do , although some can be easily explained .
We’ve been buying and selling G Plan circular and oval astro coffee tables for around 8 years and prices were fairly predictable until a couple of years ago . Until very recently we were selling them in good vintage condition at around £115 for a circular and £165 for an oval one . On Ebay most Buy it Now prices for a circular one around £125-£175 with a couple of restored ones at around £200 . However one person is asking £450 and another £995 !!! There are probably 3 much rarer and more desirable G Plan “spider” tables also on Ebay with prices all around £300 which is no more than was being asked 3 or 4 years ago , so why do 2 people think that they will get such a high price for a standard circular astro with some 20 or 30 others around for considerably less ? As you can imagine we also check to see prices being achieved at auction and it’s not unusual now to see the circular ones selling for over £150 with commission and the oval ones for around £200 with commission which is more than we’ve being asking . Some are in auctions where there is a lot of teak and where 1 or more foreign dealer is competing to buy in bulk so they’re prepared to pay a retail price to get a lot in one place . It’s better for such a dealer to buy 3 or 4 sideboards , 3 coffee tables , some chests and other pieces all together than to have to send a courier all around the country to pick up pieces hither and thither taking time and a lot of fuel , never mind organisation .
Over the years I’ve got used to standing at an auction and watch as some pieces go for far more than the usual price , and sometimes well over retail . Mostly this is 2 private people who want something nice on the day and are prepared to spend more to get it now rather than wait and take time looking to find one cheaper . It can also be a dealer who has a client wanting that piece , or sometimes getting carried away as I have done on occasion because I’ve travelled a long way and failed to get some previous lots ! Usually auctions should be looked as being wholesalers , and dealers as being retailers , but this divide often gets crossed particularly in big specialist sales where private buyers and interior decorators are being targeted .
Then there are websites such as First Dibs and Pamono . First Dibs charges quite a high monthly fee to their participating dealers whether they are large or small along with a percentage on all sales , whereas Pamono only charges the percentage as do Vinterior . All now have systems that stop buyers getting in touch with sellers outside their sites as does Ebay , to ensure understandably that they get paid their commission . All these professional sites spend money on promotion in various ways and have other costs to pay . It does mean that if you’re looking for a specific Danish piece through Google their sites will come up in the first few often with photos and prices . If you have something British like a rare Beithcraft sideboard and make a search you may find one for sale in Amsterdam or New York in an expensive shop with high overheads even without First Dibs and Pamono taking a commission . To get to Amsterdam or New York or Wellington in New Zealand perhaps may involve a number of people along the way , and to get a top price some restoration and re-polishing will have been done also so understandably the asking price must reflect this .
We’ve had private people in say Chicago asking the cost of sending a G Plan sideboard to them . We may be asking £475 for the sideboard , a similar one from a local vintage dealer in Chicago may be $2000 , so ours looks cheap and buyable . However to send an individual large piece to Chicago involves having it crated , packed , shipping companies , customs etc etc and will cost around £1000 whether it’s a £500 sideboard or a £2000 sideboard , although the duty on the more expensive one along with insurance will be a percentage rather than a fixed cost like the packing , shipping etc . A dealer can get a 20ft container with 20 or more sideboards along with chests , coffee tables and other pieces for about £2000 , but has his costs to cover , just like we do at our end . We all have to pay rent , rates , fuel , taxes , wages , accountancy fees , insurance and all those unexpected costs of running a business that people don’t think about like having fire extinguishers checked and maintained annually !
A London shop or a large antique Fair is always going to be likely to be a more expensive place to buy from than online due to the high extra costs of selling involved . However you do get to see the actual piece , can try it out , sit in it in the case of a sofa or chair and generally be sure that you’re happy with what you’re buying .
Buying from a specialist dealer like ourselves is often more expensive than buying from a second-hand shop and sometimes more than some pieces on Ebay , but not always by any means . We aim to find you a choice of 50 sideboards not just 2 or 3 or maybe 5 or 6 . This means we’re buying all over the UK to source a varied and interesting selection of standard as well as more unusual and sometimes unique pieces . We’ve sold over 30 teak sideboards to one foreign dealer in one deal before , and 6 or 7 McIntosh Dunvegans to one European buyer before . It costs them a bit more , but it’s easier than buying each piece from a different seller .We don’t work from a shed or farm buildings as some dealers do , it’s a purpose built warehouse on a good modern industrial estate , where our neighbours include Barbours . It is a warehouse so we use our space to its maximum , with lots of industrial racking , so it is cheaper to run than a shop . We have an in-house restorer who won’t cut corners so work is done carefully and properly rather than a quick fix , this does add to the price .
If you’re looking for Ladderax we won’t be the cheapest we know that , but we will offer you the exact configuration that you want if we can . We can only do this by having a large stock and this means we can’t just buy a bargain here or there when the opportunity presents itself . We do get lots of enquiries from people who have bought sets on Ebay , but want to swap and change elements or add to them to get what they really want . We don’t sell odd pieces otherwise we’d end up with all the standard pieces and no interesting configurations .
We don’t just buy and sell pieces for the sake of it , we’re interested in the history and design of what we sell and we have to work hard to source our stock . Each week we spend a lot of time looking at potential pieces , and we carefully select from auctions and from emailed photos what we think will add interest and variation . Like everybody we do make mistakes , some things that look ok turn out to be disasters , and we spend ages each week replying to numerous emails and calls , many of which unfortunately lead nowhere . This all costs in some form , but it shows our passion and interest in what we’re doing . Also remember that if you’re buying from a specialist you have to expect to pay more . We specialise in pieces from the late 1950s , 1960s and early 1970s , but there are dealers who focus on Italian pieces or a few designers for example . The more specialised a dealer is the more you can expect to pay usually .