The Horse that Was Lost

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I have been fawning over antique wooden rocking horses for about 10 years now. I first saw one at Jennifer’s Antiques, the main street antique store back in Conway, Arkansas where we used to live.  Since then I’ve seen a few scattered at antique malls here and there, but mostly for sale online. You know the kind I’m talking about–the ones with beautiful painted detail, real horse hair, great patina . . .

Some were built on wooden gliders, like this gorgeous horse from the 1800’s,

via Etsy

via Etsy

Others were built on bows, like this one also from the 1800’s,


via Nancy Fishnelson Designs

or this stunning horse from 1860’s England.

via Legends Rocking Horses

The problem with about all of these beautiful horses I’ve seen is that they cost a small fortune!  Of the three pictures above, the least expensive is the first horse from Etsy, coming in at a cool $865.  The other two start reaching up into the thousands of dollars, which is definitely out of my budget.  I just can’t feel ok about buying a decorative item that costs more than my husband’s car.

About this time last year, I did see a horse for sale at my mall.  I happened to run into the dealer who was selling it one day, and she promised me a great deal on it, around $85.  It was close to my birthday, so I hinted pretty hard to my husband about how I would love to have that horse at the mall and how it was a really great deal . . . but the hinting didn’t take, and the horse sold to someone else.

So once again my birthday is approaching, and I decided to take matters into my own hands this year.  I saw one at Hobby Lobby a week or so ago that was tempting, on clearance for only $ (15)I just couldn’t go for the reproduction though, even at that price.  I really have my heart set on an original.

I kept looking, and a few days later I found a horse for sale on Ebay that had a starting bid of only $19.99!  It wasn’t as impressive as the real horses above, but it still qualified as an antique rocking horse, and more importantly, it was in my price range!

rocking horse

via Ebay

It was, as Mike and Frank say, “farm fresh.”  It was missing an ear and it’s tail, and had cracks on it’s legs and platform.  Not to mention the years of dirt and dust it had accumulated sitting in someone’s attic! But I happened to like it’s rusty-crustiness, and it was the perfect size to sit on top of my piano.

I stalked it for a few days, and as the ending time approached, set up camp in my bed with my laptop.  You know the trick of Ebay, to wait until the last few minutes to actually place your bid?  Well, with one minute left, the winning bid was at $35 and I began typing in my bids.  I thought a minute would give me plenty of time to get past the winner’s automatic bid and still get a deal,  but I forgot about the “Bid Confirmation” screen that pops up after you submit your bid.  Darn, precious seconds lost! First, $38, outbid.  Then, $40, outbid.  10 seconds left, I was typing in $45 and trying to get through those two screens in time . . . but the clock was against me.  By the time I got my $45 bid in, the auction was over, and it sold for $42.

It was devastating. I felt like I had just lost the grand prize round of Wheel of Fortune.  I was so close . . . but not close enough.  Ughh. There is a good chance I won’t ever find another authentic antique horse in that price range again.

So for now, the top of my piano sits empty, as memorial to The Horse that Was Lost.   Please feel bad for me 🙁

Does anybody else have a sad Ebay story to share?  I don’t want to hear the successful stories, the pain is still too raw.


Linking up to:

Inspiration Monday,

Make It Pretty Monday,   Coastal Charm,

Centerpiece Wednesday,   Treasure Hunt Thursdays

Karin Bradshaw

Tuesday 27th of January 2015

Exactly Catherine. Another fake import. These horses are made ten a penny in the Philippines and imported to fool people who have no idea as regards the conformation of a real horse. An antique rocking should resemble a real horse. There is no such thing as an antique rocking horse with a carved mane and daft hooves. If you want an antique rocking horse you will have to pay a heck of a lot more, but the investment will be worth it. Or pay peanuts for a worthless cheap import.

Catherine M

Wednesday 1st of July 2015

Hi Karin, It is sad that people still get conned by these fakes- but the writer of the blog wasn't the first, and won't be the last to be fooled by these horses. In photos especially, it is easy for unknowing buyers to see the ''dirt'' which is actually applied washes of mud brushed on, then rubbed off - and the wear is all artificial. Good antique horses are never cheap- but cheapness is relative. Rocking horse dealers buy ones off ebay, say for £1000, refurbish them, then ask up to four times the price. -it would be cheaper for someone to buy it unrestored, and to either leave 'as is' or get it restored themselves-either way, cheaper than buying off an amateur dealer. There are still good horses to be found in the USA- one just needs a bit of good luck. I assume you too have an interest in old rocking horses? cheers, Cathy


Wednesday 4th of June 2014

PS, Yes, you lost out for a reason ;)-the horse was a dud! -you have now learned a little about what to look for [avoiding those small, stiff legged, rather 'awkward' looking horses with carved manes, usually on a platform rocker with a sisal ''horsehair'' [cough] tail and C shaped mouth. Some poor sould get conned bigtime by these[they are badly made, incorrectly constructed, made of ''green'' timber that splits and cracks apart. Feel relief, not sorrow. Something better will come along ;)


Wednesday 4th of June 2014

Dear Melanie, you had a lucky escape. That ''antique'' horse is no older than the milk in your fridge. I have been passionate about the classic, full monty English Rocking horses since being 2 yrs old, and I wrote a guide to rocking horses on English Ebay, specifically pointing out the pitfalls and the fakes. ''Oakleaffy'' is my username. Also, the world os looking for the bona fide English rocking horse, and anything really good will sell for several hundred pounds minimum-and some sell, if large [over 51''tall and shabby original for£4, 5,6,000. easy. A superb ''never seen the like'' Aristocratic horse in original paint came from a well known Irish Brewing family, and despite the shabbiness was ballpark £5,000 . There are chances of getting lucky, it does happen, but you have to be quick. I personally see maybe two or three ''good'' horses a year, worldwide. The really desirable ones are thin on the ground. Anything with a carved mane-alarm bells should ring like mad in your head-they are all fakes. Ditto anything with a tricycle base-and carved mane-fake again. 99% of all wooden horses on ebay are either fake, ordinary, overrestored and overpriced-beware the lies ''bought off a little old lady''-however, I did purchase a miscatalogued tricycle horse, which had belonged to the seller's father, he was given it on his 5th birthday in 1905.They backed up the story with places and dates, which all tallied. The horse was genuine, but many such stories are made up to describe a ''made yesterday''faked horse. Do look at the guide on ebay, and do keep looking. Tjhe more ''ho hum'' brands of English rocking horse, Patterson Edwards, Collinson, later FHAyres 1940's horses and later ''sportiboy'' Lines models are buyable for £250 up to £600. Please don't feel bad about losing out to the fake, the price alone shows it to be a fake. There are enough serious collectors out there who have pockets bulging to buy the genuine thing. Bargains on Ebay are rare. Especially when it comes to genuine rocking horses. Good luck though. I was desperate for a real rocking horse, and as an adult bought my first one, feeling guilty at the cost! [£150 then, in 1980] I then saw more, and now have -well lets say, more than two!


Thursday 27th of March 2014

I have been on the hunt for one as well. You certainly got a treasure. Thanx for sharing at THT! Our HobLob still has them fro $100 on clearance.

Dawn @ We Call It Junkin

Wednesday 26th of March 2014

This is beautifully written, if that's any consolation at all. I hope you find another one and it's an even better deal! Really antique and really cheap! So there Person Who Got Melanie's Horse! Thanks for sharing this at the History & Home Link Party this week, take care - Dawn @ We Call It


Wednesday 26th of March 2014

Thank you Dawn! It was a little tongue-in-cheek :) I am quite sad about the horse, but of course life does go on!

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