How to sell antiques

rice17December 11, 2008

I have a few antiques pieces of furniture that I would like to sell. I have looked through books on antiques but can't find any of these pieces. How do I find more about these pieces and the value of them? Would I be better off selling them on my own or to an antique dealer. Several years ago I had a dealer come to buy other pieces. I remember her saying are you sure you want to sell them I can only give you x amount of dollars for them. Now I keep wondering how good of a deal she got. I would like to get a fair price.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

ebay can give you an idea of what the current market is. Do a search for pieces like yours and see what they are selling for. Keep in mind that the shipping costs are part of the value, too.


    Bookmark   December 11, 2008 at 4:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

And post a picture here so someone can tell you the termininology to look for on eBay..

    Bookmark   December 11, 2008 at 10:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hello and Good Day! I have been an antiques dealer and broker full time for the past 30 years. Ebay is really not the best source for a non dealer to use to determine value. There are so many little details that can change the value of an antique dramatically, and these details are not readily discernable on ebay.

The VERY BEST way to determine the market value of an antique is to hire an active antiques dealer to appraise your items, but you must make it clear that these items are not for sale to him or her because that creates a conflict of interest situation which may lead to the dealer low balling an item if they are keen on purchasing it.

Certified Appraisers are generally worthless. Most of them are not active dealers and the only way to know the true market value is if you are out there every day immersed in the scene.

The best way to find a knowlegable dealer is to visit a local high quality show and scope out the dealers who exhibit items similar to what you would like to have appraised. It's always best to get at least two or three appraisals. I know this sounds like a lot of work, but it is definitely worth it. Otherwise, you could end up making a very costly mistake!

As an example. Several months ago I heard about a three carat emerald cut diamond ring set in platinum with two one carat baguettes flanking the center stone. The CERTIFIED APPRAISER valued the ring at $2800. A friend notified me of this and gave me the name of the gentleman who owned the ring. I went to view it, but by the time I arrived, he had already agreed to sell it to a friend of his. When I saw the ring I was astonished! The huge center stone was as clear and colorless as water. It dated to about 1920. I would have gladly paid ten thousand dollars for the ring because I knew it was worth at least 15-20 thousand, and it could have been worth even more.

So, this is a sad tale of an elderly man who relied on the appraisal of some one who was not active in the antiques business and who, consequently, was not aware of how the price of large diamonds has skyrocketed over the past few years.

I could write a whole book on this. Hope this has alerted many of you to the dangers of this type of appraisal.

Best Regards, Steve

    Bookmark   December 18, 2008 at 1:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Be aware....appraisers charge by the hour, if they are honest, by the value of what they appraise if they are not honest. To have 3 appraisers evaluate a piece would cost a minimum...a VERY minimum of $150. That adds that much to the cost of what you would have to get for the piece.

The point of Steve's story is know your be certified by some boards, all you have to do is have a tax license which may presume you tyo be a dealer, and to pay the fee.
Also be aware that there are 2 appraisals, one for insurance and another for sale.
If you sell to a dealer, you will be selling wholesale...the dealer will re sell and make a profit. The best way to sell anything is to find all you can about what you have, then find out what similar items are selling for at retail price....then aim your ads to the retail buyers and price it less than the price you might find in a shop.
The bottom line is KNOW what you have. And to be sure you really know, do your homework....don't trust any one dealer nor appraiser.
Linda C

    Bookmark   December 18, 2008 at 2:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

While I agree with everything Steve and Linda said, Steve's suggestion to go to a "local high quality show" gave me a chuckle. I live in a fairly remote part of Wisconsin and there simply aren't antique shows in our area. This means that I have to rely on sites like this and ebay to get a rough idea of what the current market will bear.

When using ebay, I will watch the relevant auctions for at least a couple of months, keeping track of selling prices (including shipping costs) and taking an average. I personally collect antique sewing machines, so I have a pretty good idea of what a fair market value is for most machines, but even so, I've seen some common ones go for ridiculously high prices on ebay, and then watched a real treasure sell for peanuts. That's why you need to watch a lot of things sell and use averages.

And after all is said and done, you have to consider your local market, too. Using sewing machines as an example, here in the upper Midwest a nice Singer is worth $50-100 unless it's something REALLY special. On the coasts a similar machine will sell for 2-3 times that amount. Just as with real estate, location can be very important when it comes to antiques.


    Bookmark   December 19, 2008 at 10:23AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

These stories are the frustration of all of us that have a piece of "value" and don't have the means to sell it fairly. I took a bowl and pitcher to an appraiser at a local antique event. $400 to $500, or more if bid up on the internet. Nobody is going to give me that around here and I'm squeemish about e-bay. I have a 1940/1950's white gold and diamond watch that is appraised at $1200.00. Nobody is going to give me what it's worth! I'll have to sell it at way below what it's worth in order for THEM to sell it for what it's worth. Even lostinindy was more disappointed in not getting in on the purchase than giving the poor man what was due him.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2008 at 6:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Perhaps you don't have a realistic idea of what a fair price is.
Is the $400 to $500 for the pitcher and bowl a replacement value? or is it a "What someone will buy it for" price. The 2 are different. You will NEVER get what you should insure an item for as a selling price unless it's a very rare one of a kind item.
By word of mouth, ads in the paper and eBay you can sell to the final owner....not to someone who is a dealer and is in the business of selling.
And....I am very VERY wary of appraisals. What is "Worth" but the amount that someone will give you for it. An appraiser may have said that watch is "worth" $`1200...but in reality it's only worth what you can sell it for.
The jewelry business is full of disappointed people because of the enormous mark up on jewelry.
You buy a diamond from a Dealer who sells it to you at a great bargain...1/3 off retail price....and to show he is telling the truth he gives you an appraisal sheet proving that.
So you buy and a year later decide that you don't want to marry that woman and try to sell the diamond....but can't get more than 1/2 of what you paid.
That's the game!
Linda c

    Bookmark   December 20, 2008 at 7:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

That's exactly my point. And why is it a game and not a business? What does it matter "in the business of buying and selling". If I have something that is worth so much in resell --- so give me that price! And quit pretending that YOU of all people would have given that poor man what his item was worth. We all know that you would leap with joy to know that you would have screwed that poor schmuck out of what his item was worth!

    Bookmark   December 20, 2008 at 8:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
lindac miss the point, It IS a business. Dealers are in the business of buying and selling. In order to stay in business and pay the rent on the store, you must make money, to do that you have to buy at wholesale in bulk if you are lucky and sell for more than you bought it for. Works that way with anything, cars, apples and antiques.
BUT....antiques are in short supply and no more will me made...hopefully! So what the antiques dealer is offering to the buyer is an inventory and a central place to buy AND their knowledge and good eye for picking out the good stuff from the garage sale junk.
For the best price, don't buy from a dealer....that's the retail price. If you do your homework and become knowledgable in a certain area ( like sewing machines...but that's another annie) then you can go out on your own and look for stuff, because you know the retail price of such things, you can spot a bargain.
But if you have a gold and diamond watch that would cost you $1200 to are not going to sell it for that except to someone who wants to keep it for their own. No dealer will pay "replacement" costs for any item.
Linda C

    Bookmark   December 20, 2008 at 8:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

No -- I do not miss the point!! The original question was "how do I get a fair price" for personal items. I'm not talking about replacing a gold and diamond watch, I'm talking about the "VALUE" of a gold and diamond watch. I'm talking about the "VALUE" of selling those items for what they are worth. I think that is what the original post was asking about as well.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2008 at 9:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

How do you measure "value"? What it costs to replace it? What you can sell it for? It's usefulness? How many others there are?
The only way to measure value is by what you can sell it for, what someone is willing to pay.
An appraisers estimate is just that....and most likely the figure will be a retail price. To get that price you will ahve tos ell it to a collector, not to a dealer....because a dealer has to make money by selling what they buy.
To answer the OP, before you try to sell...KNOW what the fair price is and it won't be the appraised price.
Linda C

    Bookmark   December 20, 2008 at 10:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Annie-- why be squeamish about eBay? You can set a high reserve, and get paid through PayPal, which is a pretty decent protection. Or you could try selling through established auction houses, again with a hefty reserve. A diamond and gold watch signed by a major jeweler, like Tiffany or Cartier, should hold value. A Bulova, not so much, and so forth.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2008 at 1:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you for your encouragement, but I'm e-bay challenged and reluctant to jump in. I do have a good number of things I would like to sell and, I want a fair price to both parties.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2008 at 10:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Annie, there are two types of prices basically. Retail and Wholesale. A retailer needs to sell the item for a "fair" retail price so they can continue to be in business. Competition is the driving force behind their pricing...if they price too high, and can't sell because Bob down the street sells similar items at 1/3 less, then they'll go out of business. If they sell everything at wholesale they'll go out of business because they won't make any money to pay the rent.

You are not asking for a "fair" price, but instead want a "retail" price, without actually doing all the work tht comes along with that.

In the antiques business, people often get what they put into their pieces. As in the case of the old man with the ring (I collect antique jewelry and can only say DANG!). He had an inferior appraisal and sold the ring for that amount. It was probably a relatively easy transaction for him. If a dealer were to buy it for a fair wholesale price (as mentioned, 10K for instance here) the man would have had more money in his pocket and not had to do much more additional work. But if that man wants to open a jewelry store, he needs to do a lot more work, and if that's done, he can then sell it for 15 or 20K as the poster said they would do.

If you don't want to do any work at all, you'll never know what the pieces are, but even a little, like posting pictures here, would be better than nothing. They could be rare pieces worth large sums, or they could be run of the mill eastlakes (lovely but not rare) that are probably not worth appraising verses just getting a general idea from ebay or craigs list type places.

One other idea is to buy some valuation books and start reading. While the values are all over the "book" in those, some of the more common things are easily identified.

I've purchased items from dealers who also don't do their homework. One set of venetian glass stands out. It's worth about ten grand and I paid six hundred dollars for it. THe dealer was a friend and I offered to split the amount in the middle because of her mistake. HEr answer..."No" she sold it at a profit and put as much work into researching it as she wanted. She felt it was a fair deal as it was.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2008 at 5:06PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Wood antique furniture one chest of drawers .
Trying to remove the grit coat off of the stain without...
Straw in dining chair cushions-- does this indicate a date?
Hi friends, I just bought a lovely antique dining table...
camelback sofa
Hello there - could anyone help me to identify the...
Help with age and materials of chair
I just purchased this chair, used, with the idea of...
Walnut Art Nouvaux Sideboard Advice Needed
Howdy, First post from a long-time lurker. We purchased...
Sponsored Products
Jonathan Adler | Canaan Accent Table Lamp
$552.20 | YLighting
Westlake Cedar Lined Blanket Trunk - WSLCB5800
$538.00 | Hayneedle
Freejack Coronado Pendant
2-Light Ceiling Antique Brushed Nickel
$46.08 | PLFixtures
Liberty Furniture Town & Country Storage Bed & Dresser & Mirror in Distressed Sa
Beyond Stores
Lunar Rug 9'6" x 13' - AMETHYST
$2,599.00 | Horchow
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™