I had the privilege of speaking with a 2nd generation auctioneer yesterday, and I want to share the information I learned with you. The premise of the call was to help professional organizers learn what does, and does not have value in the auction market so that we can give our clients the most up to date information. After all, we are not experts, but we need to be able to direct our clients to the best solution to meet their needs.
The most important thing I learned was that this is not a good time to sell your household items, furniture, or collections. That being said, if you have things to get rid of, you NEED to get rid of them, so you should at least try. Also, unless you have a Tiffany lamp or other valuable items to store, it’s not worth paying for a storage unit to hold onto things until the market has improved as it could be 20 years before that happens. This may sound grim, but I think we all (myself included) have to be realistic.
In one instance, I took some diamonds to a well respected auction house and was disappointed by their estimates. I ended up getting a better price at the local jeweler. In another instance, I took a 1920s English sterling silver set to a well respected auction house and the range that they gave me was less than if I melted it. I haven’t done anything with it because the idea of melting something so beautiful makes me ill.
The comments below are general, and things may vary depending on the geographic area. Also, specialty auction house results may be better than general ones. Please remember that the words ‘value and valuable’ are relative terms.
Watercolors are usually not that valuable
Contemporary art is valuable but difficult to price
Artwork featuring people and animals is more valuable
American silver plate has very low value (due to mass production)
English silver plate has more value
Most silver value is in the metal, unless it is from a quality name like
Tiffany or Georg Jensen
1% of what is out there is valuable
Hummels and Royal Doulton, that are signed, are valuable
Other collectibles are worth 50% less than ten years ago and 75% less than 20 years ago
World War I more valuable
World War II has some value
Have value since people are still collecting coins
Less value because there aren’t that many collectors looking for them
First editions and signed books, in good condition, have some value
Old books that are in good condition have less value
Due to less interest, religious or educational books have little value
A lot of 33RPM records have some value
78s are generally not popular
Need to be saleable
Cast iron is valuable
Original boxes add value
Need to be in mint condition
Ones with the lower cover prices have more value
Handmade, 60 years and older, with silk content from Iran, have the most value
Machine made are less valuable
Sells for 1/3 of its appraised value
Signed jewelry has some value
Old watches have diminished value
Tiffany, Lalique, Herend and Royal Crown Derby are hot
Some signed art glass has value
Values are much less than new
Real bronze is extremely heavy
Has value, but there are a lot of knockoffs
Mid Century Modern
High quality is valuable
An appraiser can help you select a good auction house for you to sell your high value items. Also, it is important that you work with reputable appraisers and auction houses. The American Society of Appraisers is a great way to get started.