Have you ever inherited or purchased a piece of furniture that just didn’t smell right? I have, and I paid for my mistake in terms of money and time invested.
Early in my career as an antique dealer, I went to an auction and saw a piece of furniture that interested me. I carefully examined the book case with glassed doors flanking a drop leaf desk with two drawers below. I knew the item would sell easily, and, judging by the price I paid for it, other dealers thought so too.
I proudly took the bookcase/desk to the store and arranged a space to show off my new purchase. It didn’t take long that I started noticing a very odd smell anytime I passed the place where the new piece was. I truly had not noticed it earlier, but the odour became stronger and more powerful the longer I had it in the shop.
Finally I couldn’t stand it any longer. I took it to the back of the store and, in spite of the fact that the finish was excellent, I stripped it. I replaced the finish with new varnish and once again put it out on the floor. It still smelled. I put candles and room scent inside of it. Still smelled.
I returned it to the back of the shop and this time I stripped the inside of the piece. I’d never had to do this before – ever. I put new finish, and basically encased the furniture in varnish. It still didn’t smell great but the varnish overpowered it.
By then I just didn’t want it in the shop. I had invested lots of money and time in the piece but some times you just need to cut your losses – so I took it back to auction and lost more money there too.
I finally figured what probably caused the smell – moisture. It was the smell of mildewed wood, and I have since noticed it primarily at shops that import their furniture from places with wetter climates than ours.
It was a good lesson – one I’ve never forgotten. So, if ever you see me at auction, I’ll be the one with the head inside the furniture!