Online Sellers ~ Grab This When You See It

Online Sellers ~ Grab This When You See It!


A consistently good seller are these little humpbacked dresser chests/trinket boxes or “pirate boxes”, as I sometimes call them. (The 2nd to last one I had on Etsy sold the first day.) The one I am about to show you took a little longer probably because it had a few issues, but it’s also sold.


When I see these, I always grab them, but it is rare to find a perfect specimen. There’s nearly always something wrong with them. Anything from missing or loose chains on the sides, missing feet on the bottom, torn veneer, missing catches, missing tacks on the edges. I’ve seen it all, but I snatch them anyway. Any of these problems can usually be fixed or modified. Most of the ones I’ve found have been at thrift stores.


online sellers grab this when you see it
Chest as I found it with missing latch


You can see this has some minor issues…scratches and mainly the missing catch on the front. Luckily it has the chains. There is a bit of missing veneer on the side. And the red lining has a problem. Looks like old scotch tape inside. Maybe it will come off.


online sellers grab this when you see it
The red lining has a stubborn bit of scotch tape


Old English Scratch Polish is my best friend when it comes to refurbishing wood and hiding scratches….one of the tools in my arsenal I always have. I never paint these boxes because I figure they are for a man or boys. Do men like shabby chic or farmhouse style? Not sure, but I know my man doesn’t. No painted or distressed for him, and certainly no pink roses or shabby chic!


Seeds Wood Dressing is another product I love. I found it at an estate sale. It’s great for bringing out the luster of wood.




You can see what a difference Old English makes, and I haven’t even used Seeds yet…no more scratch and the place where the missing catch was has been minimized.



online sellers grab this when you see it
Chest with application of Old English Polish and Seeds Wood Dressing


Since I’m not painting the chest, I can’t fix the missing veneer with wood filler, so the best I can do is minimize it with brown paint or glaze. Old English won’t fix this. Luckily it’s only a small area.


online sellers grab this when you see it
Missing veneer on the pirate chest.



The main problem of the box is what to do about the catch. Whatever it had folded over the edge, and I know I don’t have anything like that in my stash.


Here are the possibilities I came up with for fixing this~


  • a narrow stretchy belt with a silver buckle and a horse head on the top
  • a fairly large gold knob
  • a small brown plastic knob
  • a bell-shaped pet tag (in fact, I have about 500 of these, which I found at the back of a vet’s office when I was looking for small boxes, and it hasn’t come to me yet what to do with them. I’m taking advice.)
  • a round silver button


You’ll never guess which one I chose, so I’ll reveal it further down…


online sellers grab this when you see it
Possible latches for the chest


I really liked the look of the belt! But I didn’t like that the buckle was vertical. Just didn’t look quite right.


No go with the belt as a latch



Here’s the gold knob…nice, but too big.


Gold knob is much too big



Now I thought this combo was a great idea! I was impressed with myself. If only the pet tag wasn’t green and in the shape of a bell! Green I can fix, but a bell? I don’t think so. It would be easy to fold over the edge, but the brown knob is sorta boring. I could paint it gold, but nah, wasn’t doing it for me.


Not really


So that leaves the silver shank button….YES! It looks nautical…sort of like a ship’s wheel, ya know. I liked it and the shank was shallow so it would sit flatter.


A nautical button might do the trick


Only a teensy bit of Rub n Buff next….


Applying a bit of gold to the button


By the way, I don’t worry about the bottom catch on these boxes. I rarely find them with lock or keys. Obviously, whatever I put on the box isn’t going to connect or loop into the catch. People mostly use these as trinket boxes, and probably won’t lock them, so it’s not a concern.


So let’s discuss the red interior before the big reveal….


I wasn’t sure what the stuff was inside, like old hardened scotch tape that was very stubborn. I simply couldn’t get it all off. I went at it very gently because I sure didn’t want to get into replacing the lining.


Trying to get the tape off the lining is a futile effort


And here’s the finished result with the button, Seeds Wood Dressing and a bit of Tung Oil….

it looks sooo much better now, wouldn’t you agree?!



The finished and refurbished pirate chest!




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What do y’all think? Did I make the right choice on the catch replacement?



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As an experienced online seller for 19 years, I've just begun to reveal some of my selling secrets. In my Vintage Finds posts, I show what I buy for resale, and sell for. Because many items are vintage and need TLC, I show these DIY's, and how I refurbish to sell. I love picking, junking, thrifting, and shabby chic style.

24 comments on Online Sellers ~ Grab This When You See It

  1. I think you brought this pirate’s chest back to life. Have you ever painted the lining? I think that may work if you use Chalk Paint and Wax. I have always loved trinket boxes to hold my messy junk. Pinned.

  2. I’ve seen a few of these over th years but always passed on them. I’ll think twice next time I see one.

    1. Thank you for sharing your treasure chest at the Snickerdoodle Create~Bake~Make link party! Pinned and tweeted.

  3. Florence the chest looks great. And your choice of the nautical button is spot on. You had me laughing with your comment about men not wanting shabby or farmhouse on the chest. It looks great and would make a great father’s day gift for my husband!

  4. Florence, you did a great job bring the little chest back to life. I see these at the thrift store as well but never grabbed one because it looks to banged up, I may just have to rethink that next time I see one after seeing the great job you did on restoring it.

  5. Florence, I think you definitely restored this little pirate chest! I like the button you added and the combo of dressing and oil brought out the beauty if this piece. Great job restoring it!!

  6. Florence, I’ve never used Old English Scratch Polish, so thanks for sharing this info. Also, thank you for linking up to SYS this past week. Your pirate box turned out beautiful and the button you chose works perfect because it sort of has a nautical look to it.

  7. Hard to know what people will treasure, Great tip. They do look masculine now that you point them out. Never would have considered one on my own. Thanks for the info.

  8. Great job! I found one a little similar, more flat, and it was filled with dominoes… like they had originally come in the treasure box. I’m sure yours is going to be a great seller with that nautical button! You’ve kept it in ship/shape condition! Pun intended. 🙂

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