English copper and brass pitchers: what to charge?

linnea56July 20, 2012

I am taking some pieces in a few days to a consignment shop that sells antiques, furniture, and home decor. Most pieces they carry are very good quality; the manager has to approve and set prices. They carry items for 3 months only, at which time you have to retrieve them if unsold. Proceeds are a 50-50 split.

I have had this set of 3 copper and brass pitchers for 20 years; they came from the antique store of a friend of my parents, when they were retiring. It was my understanding at the time that they were "really" old, but I don't recall what the definition of that was. Each one is stamped on the bottom, "Made in England."

I have not polished them (I don't know if I should). I have not displayed them for a few years, so I might as well sell them. If they are valuable, though, I don't want to have them be under priced. If the manager decides to price the set, at, say, $ 25, then I wouldn't give these to them. But I don't know what is reasonable for them to charge, that I should be happy with.

Can anyone tell me something about these? Thanks!

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I don't believe they are "really really old"...vintage....but not really really old.
I am guessing in a very high end shop, you might see $150 on the set. Not likely they would sell in 3 months for that....but in which case...pick them up and put them back on your shelf....they are nice!

The "made in" indicates after 1921....and the style looks 1950's to me.
Linda C

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 3:40PM
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Thanks, Linda!

This store has a price structure where the item is full price for the first month, then 15 % off for the second, then an additional 15 % off for the third. Plus you can't pick up the item before the end of the term, without paying $10. Therefore I need to be sure it's a price I'm willing to accept at that potential lower amount, before I accept their price.

The reducing price system seems to work for them: as a customer, you can either buy something you like right away, or hold out for a lower price, and hope someone else doesn't want it more than you do, in the interim.

Unless someone tells me otherwise, though, I'm going to go ahead and polish them. If I decide they are too good to list at whatever they tell me, I might as well have them polished on my own shelf.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 6:58PM
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Polish them up. I'm a firm believer that when the craftsperson made the item, be it silver, copper, brass, etc., that they did NOT envision their item as dull and dingy with oodles of "so called patina". I've found that many of the items I've polished up have a built up layer of nicotine from years long ago, when many people smoked - and didn't want to clean the "patina" off their metal items. I think your set would look stunning all polished up.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 9:21PM
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I agree....polish these pieces....but certainly not all metal pieces should be polished. There was someone who posted here a while back who had seriously reduced the value of a bronze patinated piece by polishing it.
For the most part... clean copper, brass and silver is better than dirty stuff....but not always.
Linda C

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 10:35PM
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If I am buying, I want patina not polish. If I am buying antique mahogany wood pieces, I want it black, not stripped. Same thing applies to American quarter sawed oak. I have a circa 1825 solid cherry drop leaf table. It has never been touched except to dust.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2012 at 9:14PM
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We are not talking about stripping original wood finish.....we are talking about dirty silver and copper ware...
Anyone who buys antique....not merely "old" metals want it clean....not stripped bare naked new penny, but clean.
Dirt and tarnish is not patina.
Antique silver always brings more if it's clean. Clean silver shows all imperfections, mends, worn spots, which may be hidden by tarnish and dirt.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2012 at 10:19PM
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Just telling you my preferences. If you think the pitchers are dirty, wash them off, but for God's sake, don't polish them.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 9:08AM
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Guessing you buy mostly primitive country antiques.....and perhaps items that have been scrubbed with steel wool.....which is rarely a good thing.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 10:05AM
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These were quite tarnished. I did opt to polish them, as I did a few other brass and copper pieces I gave them. However, the pricing was up to the manager. She said she would price them at $ 35 for the set. That would mean my share was $ 18 (or less, if they failed to sell quickly and underwent price reductions). I said that was not enough, and took them back. I know I paid at least $ 50 for them.

The manager was apologetic, and said there currently was not much of a market locally for copper and brass.

The other copper and brass (an asian motif coffee pot, which does not go with the style of metal pieces I have now, which are mostly middle eastern; a stamped brass tray, and a large cast brass pitcher) I didn't mind being priced at $25. Two were gifts that I no longer use or didn't like.)

But I felt differently about the pitchers. Once I get them really clean, I'll put paste wax on them, and start displaying them again.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 3:07PM
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No, I do not buy and or sell primitive country antiques. quite the opposite. Very simply, my customers don's want 100-200 year old pieces looking like they have just been stripped and polyurethaned. Saw the Kinos recently looking at a double dresser made in Philly. It had been stripped and redone. Told the man his piece was worth maybe $30,000. Told him if it was black it would be worth $250,000. My Cherry dropleaf has been appraised at $25,000. so don't talk to me about primitive pieces.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 5:14PM
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I can understand (maybe) about not stripping, painting, refinishing furniture, but with polishing silver etc., I believe it's a good thing, as Martha would say. At any rate, leaving it exposed for a couple of years it would once again have all that ugly black "patina". lol

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 5:50PM
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I thought this was about copper and brass pitchers?

Linnea....think you did the right thing not to consign the pitchers.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 6:03PM
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