Since 2003

Antique and Collectible Values – Are They Reliable?

Many people have antiques and collectibles that they have either purchased over the years or have inherited from friends or family members. At some point in time, almost everyone is interested in learning the current values of such items.

Different people go to different places to get estimates of what their particular treasures are worth. Does each antique or collectible have a set value? Will you be given the same price regardless of where you take it? The answer to both questions is no.

If someone is providing you with his or her professional opinion as to what an item is worth, you have to ask yourself who is this person? What is this person’s association with the antiques business?

If you take an antique to an antique mall for evaluation you will have a completely different result than if you took that same item to an auction house or an antique show. Each person at each of these three locations has a completely different outlook as to value. Most people will speak to what they know. An auctioneer will provide you with a price that he or she thinks the item will bring at auction. The same can be said for the mall and show dealers. Each has a different perspective.

The hopes of getting a realistic quote as to the value of your item gets further complicated when you incorporate all the other important factors.

Other factors include:

1. The condition of the item.
2. Where in the country is your item going to be sold?
3. Is your item presently on the “What’s Hot” list?

The most important of these factors is condition. Condition has the biggest affect on the value of any antique or collectible because there are so many variables involved – chips, cracks, scratches, missing pieces, fading, etc. Also, there are different degrees of damage assigned to each of these that also effect price, such as a small chip that can’t be seen as opposed to a large chip that is located in a really conspicuous place.

Where an item is going to be sold is extremely pertinent. There may be a call for Early American furniture in New England but you will not find
anyone in Florida who is the least bit interested. It is all about location, location, location.Last, but not least, is whether or not your item is popular at the present time. Different antiques and collectibles fall in and out of favor all the time. You only want to cash it in during the height of its popularity. In this respect it is similar to the stock market. Buy low and sell high.

You can attempt to determine the current worth of your item yourself by using reference books or price guides. Keep in mind that the prices in most of these books represent the highest amount realized for any given item at live auction, not how much it sold for on eBay or at an antique store. Sometimes auction prices are higher than retail but sometimes they are not. Just remember that these books are giving you information as it relates to auctions only.

If you do use reference books or price guides to evaluate one or more of your items, check the publication dates of the books that you are using. Most books get reprinted or updated with new values every few years. If you are using a book that was published five years ago then that book is giving you prices that are five years old. The item or items you are researching could be worth more or less today than what the books are telling you. This is very important to remember.

Notice that no mention has been made here concerning written appraisals. A written appraisal is something completely different from a verbal appraisal or an estimate or even an opinion from an antiques and collectibles expert. A written appraisal is an official document that is recognized by the courts. It is mainly used for insurance purposes and it provides a replacement cost of an item that is damaged, lost or stolen. Written appraisals are expensive and should only be obtained for legal reasons.

Tags: , ,