Those antiques your grandmother left are lovely, but you may nonetheless choose to sell them. Perhaps you don’t have space for additional furniture, or maybe grandma’s style just doesn’t fit with your own. You may simply need some easy cash. Where’s the best place to sell family heirlooms? How can you be sure to get what a piece is worth? Here are some tips for valuing and selling antiques.
Valuable antiques include furniture, accessories, jewelry, coins, guns, tools, pocket watches, Victrola record players, sports memorabilia and many other pieces.
Value is determined by age, rarity and condition. A piece might be old, but there may be many of them out there. Yours may not be in great condition. Some antiques may be replicas of much more valuable originals.
To determine the value of what you have, begin with what you know from the family about the antique’s origin and history and how the family acquired it. Are there any past appraisals that provided a valuation at one time?
You can often find additional valuation information by researching online.
- Searching for specific design features, such as filigree settings on jewelry or furniture finishes such as birdseye maple, can often lead you close to the object of your search.
- With coins, the denomination, design stamp and year are enough to get you off to a good start.
- On furniture, art and accessory pieces, look for labels, stickers and artist signatures to aid your online search.
- Baseball cards and other sports memorabilia are practically a category to themselves. Cards and balls signed by famous athletes from many years ago fetch good prices if you can authenticate them.
- If your search terms aren’t producing results, try a Google reverse image search using a photo of the object.
With jewelry, consult with at least three local appraisers. You can find appraiser referrals online. An appraiser often will buy jewelry from you if he thinks he can resell it. With other antiques, you can also contact local antique auction houses about the appraisal. They might be interested in helping you sell at auction or might even buy the piece outright.
Where to sell antiques
Websites such as Heritage Auctions can give you an online appraisal and conduct a virtual auction. An online auction opens your market to the nation or even the world. EBay also exposes your item to the world but does not help with appraisals. Keep in mind that if you sell larger pieces such as furniture online, you may have to charge your buyer significant shipping costs plus insurance.
Craigslist can help you sell locally, as can Facebook Marketplace. Buyers on these sites often are looking for more common objects, not pricier antiques, but you may still find a buyer. Be sure to read Craigslist’s tutorial on avoiding common scams.
Local appraisers and auction houses can help you sell your goods on-site. Another selling source is stores that sell collectibles and antiques on consignment. These places put your item on display at their showroom, and if it sells, split a percentage of the sales price with you. Before consigning, research the store. How long has it been in business? What are the store’s reviews like? Does it have a good Better Business Bureau profile? Consignment stores should sign a contract with you spelling out the price split, how much negotiating room you’re allowing the dealer, and whether an item’s price drops incrementally if it doesn’t sell over time.
Keep in mind that some antique items, such as figurines, are difficult to sell at an attractive price. Unless a figurine is rare, in perfect condition, and was made by a famous designer, it probably will not fetch much.