Over the Fourth of July weekend, as temperatures flirted with triple digits, I walked up the street, went to my local U-Haul office and walked out with a van.
Then I drove five hours round trip to Pennsylvania and back.
The purpose of my sweltering sojourn? This:
My family’s newest heirloom…
That impressive-looking chair — currently sitting on my townhome’s front porch because it’s too large to fit in any standard door — is now the most expensive piece of furniture I own.
It’s made of solid walnut (with half a walnut shell embedded in the right arm — you can just make it out in the photo above). The legs stick out enough so you can rest your feet on them.
The blocks are all laced together by a single rope, which I’ll have to tighten in about six months after the tensile give settles. (I’ll have to re-lace with new rope in about 20 years, give or take.)
Orthopedists have recommended this chair — so I can actually write it off as a medical expense for my bad neck (everyone’s got a bad neck or back or something by my age).
It came with a laptop desk, so I can write while rocking. And it came with a handmade cup holder, so I can sit and swig a can of beer as the world turns.
But that’s not why I’m writing about it today…
No, I’m writing about this chair because of what it may someday be.
Because while handmade and antique furniture has had a quiet decade, traditionally they have been collectible pieces worthy of any portfolio.
Indeed, from 1964–2003, antique furniture went up in value almost 350%.
It’s fallen a little bit from its high in 2006… but still, handmade and antique furniture holds its value remarkably well. With the finest examples well outpacing the general trend.
And now may be the best time to get in — at the bottom of what passes for a bear market in the antiques industry.
Which brings me back to my rocking chair.
I got it from one of the finest artisans on the eastern seaboard. He signed my rocker and gave it a lifetime warranty (good for his life, not the life of the chair… which will well outpace my own).
I’m usually a little sheepish to tell people what I spent on this rocking chair… Once folks know it’s into the four figures, they usually blanch.
But I know… Not only is this unique, custom-made, beautiful piece the most comfortable thing my bottom has ever felt, but its value is likely to keep going up. At the very least keeping pace with inflation.
But given the fame of the maker, Gerry Grant, and with him nearing retirement… it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if this rocking chair were worth twice what I paid in 10 years.
That sure beats spending the same amount replacing a rocking chair bought from a big-box store every two years as they keep breaking down.
My grandfather always believed you should spend money on quality — it’s cheaper in the long run. And I agree.
Does that make this chair worth the hefty price tag? If you like making money while living with the finer things in life… well, I think it does.
That’s why my wife and I are saving up for a homemade bed built from walnut wood next.
Editor-in-chief, Unconventional Wealth
P.S. What antique or handmade heirlooms have you got in your family? What piece of quality work has actually saved you money, even if it costs more upfront? Have you sold any furniture for an unexpected profit? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ryan Cole is the editor-in-chief of Unconventional Wealth. He’s been covering the alternative investment space for nearly a decade and writing about finance and investment for almost 20 years.
Ryan has walked the walk for years, living a very unconventional life. He’s led snowmobile tours through the mountains of Colorado, settled in Japan for five...