When It Comes Time To Sell Your Antiques….

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November 10, 2009
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don’t shoot the messenger!

I just got off the phone, and it was a rather interesting call. A lady has a large collection of a particular type of china she wishes to sell.  She built this collection over 30 years, and now for the first time she wants to sell.  She has never tried selling antiques before, and she told me she was quite upset with a dealer she had just spoken to.  Basically he said he wanted $100 to come out and look at her pieces and take photos.  He then told her over the phone that she would not get what she paid for the items. She was upset when she phoned me and I could hear the frustration and anger in her voice.  I advised her,  since she already had prices in mind for the items, there was no point in calling someone out to give her the news she did not want to hear, and then charge her for it! I advised her to try selling privately, use the free on-line buy and sell sites, and see what kind of response she got.  She was adamant she did not want to do that, she just wanted someone to come in and buy her collection.  She then proceeded to tell me how rare and valuable her collection was, and how offended she was when the dealer told her otherwise.  She told me she could not understand why someone was telling her that her 30 year collection may not be worth what she thinks.  She proceeded to tell me again, how rare these pieces are.  While we were talking, I did a quick search on ebay, and informed her at the moment, there were over 7000 pieces of this china now for sale on ebay.  There was a pause… Here’s the point I want to make.  When the time comes you want to sell your antiques, you may have to do a little work.  Just because you are ready to sell, does not mean the dealers are going to line up with wheelbarrows full of cash to buy your items.  You have to wholesale to a dealer…you can’t expect list price, and you cannot be offended if they are not interested in your items.  If you believe your items are worth a certain price, then you have to go out and find the buyers.  If no one is willing to pay, you may have to accept that your items are only worth that to you…and perhaps no one else.  Hard pill to swallow, but that could be the reality.  You can’t get angry because other people do not attach the same monetary value to your items as you do.  You also can’t expect someone else to do all the work and you reap all the rewards. She then asked me if I thought they would do well in one of my auctions.  Without looking at any of the pieces, I told her I did not think that was the way for her to go.  I made the judgment call, not on the items for sale, but instead on the person wanting to sell.  If someone is out of touch with the current antique market, and is not willing to admit or listen, then I really don’t want to be selling for them.  Warning flags were going up all over, just through our telephone call.  Someone like that is not going to be happy with whatever you sell for them, and I make a point of not doing business with them.  My next auction has 28 consignors involved, and everything is to be sold without reserve.  Personally I don’t need the aggravation of selling for someone who is not willing to have their items sell at current market value. So again my point is, when you wish to sell, do some research and have some understanding of the current market, and then base your price on that.  If you are calling in dealers, tell them upfront what you have and what you want, and leave them some room to make a profit. If you want to retail your items, then you are going to have to do some work, and find the buyers. If you simply want to sell, and are willing to accept the average (and sometimes on a good sale, above average) current selling price for your items….then call me! Rob
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