So What’s It Worth???

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March 8, 2011
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depends on who you talk to!

As part of my business I am constantly being asked…”what’s it worth?”  And that is a question I expect to be asked, and I do my best to answer. So, how can you determine “what’s it worth”? My standard answer is, “I can tell you what I think an auction value is” If you watch  Antiques Roadshow, you will notice most of the time they appraise an item, based on auction value. An auction value is the price I see people paying on a consistent basis for an item, as opposed to an “asking price”.  I constantly check the free on-line advertising sites, and what people are asking, is sometimes a far cry from what I think they will ever get for the item.  The advertising is free, so they can put whatever price they want on something and see if anyone bites. I recently saw a scrub board advertised for sale.  As you probably know, there is rarely an auction that doesn’t have at least one, and they usually sell from $10 to $25.  This person was asking $125 for his!  I have seen wooden ironing boards advertised for $150.  We usually sell them between $15 and $35 dollars. In short I have seen some pretty wild asking prices, and you can take them with a grain of salt.  Perhaps they do get lucky and someone will pay the price, but for the most part I think they just give up and stop running the ads.  Or at least, come to their senses. In the course of an average year I will sell approx 6000 lots of assorted antiques including over 1200 pieces of furniture.  Now multiply that by the 15 years I have been in business and that is over 90,000 lots. Combine that with the number of items I have seen sold through other auctions I have attended or worked at over the last 30 years, and believe it or not, it totals over one million items! So when I look at an item, I base my opinion on the one million items I have seen sold. Sometimes people will determine their asking price, based on the highest price they have seen in an antique store.  And of course their item is always much better, so add a little more to that. Even if you see the piece in an antique shop or antique mall, it is still only an asking price.  It is basically one person’s opinion as to value, and it may never sell at that price.  I have seen some pretty wild asking prices in antique malls and shops, and they may very well sell the piece for that price.  I know of one piece of furniture that sat for several years in an antique mall with an asking price of over $10,000.  Apparently it has sold, but for what price I don’t know.  However, if it takes years to sell the piece for that price, and 1000’s of people have seen it and didn’t purchase it, does that make your similar piece worth the same amount of money? Having said that, most dealers I know price their items in line with current market value.  You don’t last long in the antique business, if you are not willing to sell. So the point I am making is, if you are interested in seriously selling your items, check out the auction market.  See what is actually selling, and what people are really paying. Check out the general antique consignment auctions, like ours, rather than the on-site estate auctions.  Remember the scrub board anecdote I earlier made?  Well I was at an on-site estate auction for a very well known lady in a small town.  Prices were wild!  Two scrub boards sold for $75 each.  I am sure the lady who bought them had never attended an auction before, and she was determined to have them, just because of who they once belonged to. The same goes for family members, neighbours and friends who are just buying up “keepsakes”, and creating artificially high prices for that one auction only. If you really want to know what your items may be worth you can check out my auction highlights and results pages on this website, or phone, or better still email me a photo and I will give you my opinion. After all, it’s what I do. Have fun on the auction trail! Rob IF YOU HAVE ANY COMMENTS ABOUT THIS OR ANY OTHER ARTICLE, FEEL FREE TO EMAIL ME AT  ALWAYS NICE TO HEAR FROM YOU!
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