Sunday, February 18, 2007

How the Find the Value of Your Antiques, Collectibles and Memorabilia

So you have decided which method you will use to sell your antiques and collectibles now you just need to determine the value of the pieces. I have quite a few resources on my website that you can use to find the value but I will also give you some tips below.

If you want the value to insure an item I recommend getting a written appraisal. This way if you do need to make a claim on this item you already have the appraisal in place. If you want to find the sale price of an item then you will need to do some research.

Get our and visit some antique shops and see what the same or similar items are selling for in your area. This is especially helpful if you are planning on selling through the local newspaper.

If you are going to sell your wares online you need to research what you have so that you can write a good description of the item. There are books on just about every type of antique and collectible so your first stop should be the local library or large chain bookstore.

Once you know what you have you can then look online and see what others are selling the same or similar items for. If you are going to sell your wares on eBay look and see what it is selling for there. Don’t look at what folks are asking for a particular item, look at the closed auctions and see what prices the item has brought in the recent past. Some of the large live auction houses will post their closed auction prices. These prices include the buyer’s premium which is a cost the auction house charges the buyer on top of the closing auction price. The buyer’s premiums have gotten out of control and some houses charge as much as 40%

You can always look in published price guides to get a “guide” on what something might bring but remember that price guides are simply that…. Guides to prices. This is often referred to as “book value.” I am a tad cynical about book values and feel that price guides are simply a means of running the price up on a particular line of antiques and collectibles.

How to Sell Your Antiques, Collectibles and Memorabilia

I get at least 20 requests a day from folks looking to sell their antiques, collectibles, memorabilia and assorted other items. They are usually asking me to purchase these items, and on a very rare occasion I have purchased from such solicited requests, but for the most part I do not.

Why, you may ask.

  • The request is not accompanied with a selling price, including shipping. It is not my place to make an offer on these items. The seller needs to know how much they want.
    Those that do come with a selling price as asking me to pay the retail price for the item. This is not feasible. I pay wholesale otherwise I cannot make a profit. This is my business, how I pay bills, and if I cannot make a profit I might as well just hang it up. If I am selling an item for $12.00 I cannot pay $12.00 plus shipping for the same or similar items. This is not good business sense.
  • The last time I made a purchase, sight unseen other than the submitted photos, when I received the set of dinnerware most of it was chipped and broken. I had repeatedly asked the seller about flaws and she adamantly claimed there were none. Therefore, most of the dinnerware was unsellable and I lost quite a bit of money on the deal.
  • Finally, I love to go to auctions and sales to purchase wares for my online antique shop and buying blindly does not afford me this opportunity.

So, what is the best way to get the maximum for your antiques, collectibles and memorabilia?

Selling through your hometown newspaper is still the best place to start, run a classified ad. Place your ad so that it will run for at least one Sunday and I will almost guarantee that it will sell. You will still need to do your homework to find out what the best price is but this method will bring you the most money for your item. Cost – about $25.00 for a good ad running for one week.

Most areas have at least one consignment shop that sells a little bit of everything. Where I live we have several and I sell antique furniture through one with great success. They do charge 50% but I am able to set the price that I want to get and whether or not I will take less on the item. Most of the shops take in small items as well as large furniture pieces. Be sure to read the contract that you sign, and if they don’t have a contract ask for something in writing specifying the percentage that they take. Just look in the phone book for Consignment Stores or Shops. Cost – 40% - 50% of the sale price.

Live auction houses are a good way to sell items especially if you have something of significant value. Auction houses often hold auctions in one particular category of antique or collectible these are heavily advertised so that they bring in bidder’s that are interested in the collection. They also have auctions with a hodge podge of goodies. Some towns have local weekly auctions, these are fun to sell at as well as attend. Some will allow you to set a reserve but you then run the risk of the item not selling. There is no way of knowing what your item will bring at auction but if you are just looking to get rid of a houseful of items this is a great way to do just that. Cost – 10% - 40%.

eBay stores are a growing small business opportunity and most areas have someone who will sell your items on eBay. You simply drop the item off and they take care of writing the description, taking the photos, packing and shipping. When your item is sold they mail you a check. Once again, be sure that you understand the fees involved. Some places charge a per item fee as well as an end of sale percentage. Be sure that you have these fees in writing before you leave your items with the business. You can set a reserve price, this is the minimum amount that you will take for the item or you can just take your chances on the eBay Gods and let fate take control. eBay is a fickle selling venue and you can never be sure what an item will bring or even if it will sell. Costs – varies from business to business.

Sell the item yourself on one of the online auction sites. It is not difficult to do but you do need a digital camera to get photos of your item posted with your auction. You need to write a very detailed description, including all flaws and defects but highlight the wonderful characteristics of your wares. Take good quality photos. Remember, shoppers cannot touch the item you are selling so you need to allow them to “touch” it through your photos and words. Cost – about 12% of the selling price in auction fees.

    You can sell your items through an online antiques and collectibles shop through consignment or direct posting. I offer an online consignment where for a small fee you send me photos and a description, I post the item to my website and you take care of customer relations and getting the item to the consumer. I have several regular sellers’ using this method on my antique shop site. I have been offering this service for 4 years and have noticed more and more online shops starting to offer the same service. Just be sure that the shop you pick is established and not going anywhere once you get your items online and have paid the fee. Cost - $5.00 - $10.00 per item.

    Online classified ads such as Craig’s List. The service is free and you can advertise it in your local area. I am not sure how many people actually make purchases through this venue but it is similar to placing an ad in your newspaper. Live Deal is an online classified ad service with a small fee if your item sells.

    As you can see there are a great number of methods to get rid of your items. Some require more effort on your part than others and some will bring you more money than others but choices abound.

    I don’t recommend selling to a dealer unless they are actively soliciting for specific items and please always include a dollar amount when you do ask them to purchase your wares.

    Next I will tell you how to find the value of your antiques, collectibles and memorabilia.