Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What's This Worth?

I get several emails a week from people asking me the value pieces they have. I thought this would be a great place to talk a little bit about that.

First, and foremost, I'm not an antiques appraiser, so I can't supply the value of something. Which brings me to this...

How does one find out the value of an antique or vintage item?
  • No matter what information you find regarding the value of your antique or collectible, it is only worth as much as someone is willing to pay you for it. Perhaps you watched the Antiques Road Show and saw a piece valued at a certain amount. That only applies unless you have a buyer.

  • Supply and demand. When the supply is low, collectors will pay a higher amount for an item just so they can own it. When the market is flush with goods, the value of those items goes down.


  • Take for example, hotel silver, something I specialize in. How do you put value on it? Not an easy answer. The more scarce of a piece--for example, a sought-after hotel such as the Plaza or Waldorf in New York City is generally worth more than a piece from a Hilton or Sheraton.

  • Condition. In most cases, the better condition of a piece, the greater its overall value. Not with hotel silver. Sometimes the most pitted or tarnished piece can be a real treasure because of its provenance and design.

  • Generally, if you have an item that you'd like to sell, you shouldn't expect to get much more than half of its value. That’s because dealers need to mark the item up to make a profit. Unless, however, you have a retail venue to sell it.

  • My recommendation is to do the most you can to investigate it. Scour the internet for similar items, visit auctions and eBay to find out what people are buying and what prices are being paid. You can also contact auction houses or consignment shops to sell your items. Good luck!

images: parishotelboutique.com

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