Table Sells for $636,500

According to the Main Antique Digest, a tilt-top tea table sold for $636,500 at a Sotheby’s auction in January. The table dates back to 1779, when it was paid for, in part, by several gallons of spirits.

Tilt-top tea table carved in 1779 sold to a phone-bidder for $636,500. Dimensions are 29½” x 32¼” x 30¼”. Photo: Sotheby’s

How does a piece of furniture once paid for in alcohol fetch the same price as a luxury home? It’s fair to say that the wood itself has little to do with the furniture’s value.

Assuming it’s crafted from Genuine Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla), let’s calculate 30 board feet of rough lumber was processed at today’s value of $10.00 per board foot. The cost of raw material accounts for only 0.0005% of it’s value.

So what make’s this tea table so special?

We can probably boil it down to design, craftsmanship and brand. Quality work get’s recognized. This recognition starts a virtuous cycle of cultural appreciation. It’s a text book example of the benefits of value-added wood products. It’s a just wooden tea table. But it’s worth more than half a million dollars. And 99.9995% of that value is attributed not to the wood, but what was done with it.

It just goes to show… woodworking and wood manufacturing can add a lot more value to wood and forest resources then is often appreciated.

Now, back to working on those wooden beverage coasters…

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