Big Money for an Antique Bench - Popular Woodworking Magazine

Big Money for an Antique Bench

 In Shop Blog, Woodworking Blogs

Pookandpook_BucketBench CroppedSome folks spend hours searching Pinterest. My weakness is antique auction web sites. They’re a total time-suck. On these sites, I see photos of furniture that is to be auctioned, a brief description of the piece and most times, I get an estimate of the potential hammer price.

Recently, I spent time perusing a Pook & Pook Inc. auction listing for the 19th and 20th of April (click here to take a look). I found a lot of interesting pieces that are going on the block this weekend, the first of which is the bench shown above. It’s a bench for buckets – not so much a bench for the work with which we are more familiar.

The bucket bench as a furniture design morphed (with the addition of doors and drawers) into cupboards and hutches, but the design itself has vanished. We no longer have buckets and pieces of stoneware (food-storage containers back in the day) to sit upon these benches.

The bench shown has a substantial auction estimate – $2,000 to $4,000 – given that today we could build the bench for less than $40, or the cost of one 2×12 that’s 8′ long and one that’s 12′ long. Why so high a price? Original paint does that, and original blue paint does that even more.

If you take a close look at the bucket bench, you can see that the construction – only a couple of through-mortises and nails – is simple. Easy-to-build projects are often those that bring respectable money when aged 200 years. Projects such as those found in “I Can Do That! Woodworking Projects, 2nd Edition” fit this concept. So the next time you look down your nose at a simple piece of furniture, think about what that piece may bring in the year 2213.

— Glen D. Huey

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Showing 7 comments
  • pmac

    Anybody have any old cans of lead paint lying around, preferably blue?

  • AL

    I enjoyed the post Glen. Hope you share with us other furniture pieces you come across at auction sites.
    Bucket bench, never heard of such an animal.

    • zdillinger

      Anyone interested in seeing more pieces like this should join the Society of American Period Furniture Makers (SAPFM). One of the best membership perks is free access to the Prices4Antiques database. You can search for any piece that has sold at auction and see the final price realized. It’s a great source for projects! That is where my spice chest came from, as well as my current Taunton Chest.

      • Megan Fitzpatrick
        Megan Fitzpatrick

        Also, the SAPFM annual publication, “American Period Furniture,” is excellent.

        • zdillinger


  • robert

    A fool and his money …

  • zdillinger

    You’re right on. Who would have ever thought that a 22″ x 22″ pine chest of drawers would bring over $3million? Granted, it has some nice paint, but still…

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