After inheriting her grandmother's collection of antiques, Dolores has maintained an interest in the care and sale of vintage items.
- Condition influences value
- Values change rapidly
- The popularity of certain antiques and collectibles changes quickly
- How to find resources to help identify an antique or collectible
- Demand creates value
What Is an Antique?
Many people have valuable antiques in their homes. Whether purchased or inherited, objects 100 years old or older are considered to be antiques. Of course, plenty of people call that 1940s dining room set antique, but it is not. Interesting, desirable, older objects less than 100 years old are collectibles.
Value Has Many Meanings
When we talk about the value of an antique, we can mean several things. I greatly value the things passed down to me from loved ones and would never part with most of them as the sentimental value is too great.
Maybe I never met my great grandmother, but I look at her beautiful Flow Blue china and can touch something that she touched. The family came to the United States during the Irish Potato Famine in the mid 19th century. My great great grandfather was a laborer. So, I know that this lovely dishware meant a lot to the family. It meant that they had arrived into the middle class, that the family was established enough to spend money on a few fine things.
I remember seeing the Flow Blue at Auntie's house, how it was rarely used, but treasured, set in a bow front cabinet to be looked upon—not touched. This is the most valuable antique of all. It's priceless!
Using Price Guides
We can look at antique books and price guides that document various types of antiques and their values with a grain of salt.
One day, while looking at Depression Glass at a lovely little shop, the proprietor and I checked out a price guide to Depression Glass values. The dealer said that she would never be able to get the stated price because the value of each piece is actually determined by how much money people are willing to pay for it. She said that she could never get the suggested prices, and this was during good economic times.
So, the value depends on the economy, the region where you are attempting to buy or sell the piece, and whether or not someone will actually want to purchase the item and whether a similar item is available in the shop right down the street. Or on eBay.
Price guides can be an excellent resource in helping to identify an item.
Selling Your Items
If you have antiques or collectibles (remember that Depression Glass is a collectible as it is not over 100 years old) and want to sell them to a dealer, remember that the dealer will need to make a profit. The dealer must take into account overhead costs as well.
You may decide to sell an antique or collectible on eBay. If so, first you must establish yourself as a reliable dealer on that popular site so that people have confidence in the items you have for sale as well as confidence in your shipping practices. Don't forget that, on eBay, there is a huge group of available buyers, but there may be stiff competition, too.
The Importance of Condition
I have a beautiful porcelain figurine of a young girl holding up the skirt of a pleated dress. Fifteen years ago, I found some information about the figure that was made in the late 1800s or early 1900s by the Gebruder Heubach Company of Thuringia, Germany. The figure can be identified by the look of it and the mark on the bottom, as with most valuable china and porcelain pieces. The mark is a divided circle with a sunburst on top and two over-lapped letters below.
The article suggested that the figure might sell for $500.00 in good condition. And that was 15 years ago.
Unfortunately, someone knocked the figurine's head off some 40 years ago. The head was neatly glued back on, but the damage was done. No way I would ever get anywhere near the suggested price because it is damaged. In addition, changing markets would decrease the value.
How to Take Care of Your Old Things
Take proper care of your antiques and collectibles. Keep them out of harm's way.
Do not attempt to refinish a piece of old or antique furniture. Part of the value of an old piece is determined by its patina, the changes that occur in the aging process. If you remove old paint or finish, you may destroy both the charm and value of the piece. This holds true for high end, very old, or significant pieces by master craftsmen. A damaged, ordinary piece of old furniture may benefit from a restoration or refinishing.
Antique Textiles, Prints, Paintings, and Photographs
Antique paintings, photographs, prints, and textiles can be destroyed by moisture, heat, and lighting conditions. Also, body oils transferred by handling can damage old things, particularly textiles and paper.
Never attempt to frame or remove an old photograph, print, painting, or textile from its frame. This is best done by a professional or an expert who knows how to handle such a fragile piece.
Do not allow someone who claims to be an expert to handle old textiles or such delicate antiques unless they are wearing gloves. If they do not wear gloves, they are not expert in the care and handling of valuable antiques.
Do Not Assume an Item Is Antique
Just because something looks old, or someone else thinks that it is old, does not mean that the item is actually old.
The lovely lamp shown above may appear to be old or antique to some people, but was purchased at TJ Maxx in the 1980s. Not old.
Often older pieces, or antiques, are copied and sold just because they are so darn pretty. These reproductions can be fun to buy and use but they do not have the value of a genuine antique. Reproductions of old dishes are better to use than the real thing. Today's regulations prevent the addition of toxic elements in the production of dishware. That was not true in the past.
When to Have an Antique Professionally Appraised
Maybe you love your old stuff. I do. Maybe you have no desire to sell it. But it is a good idea to have it appraised for insurance purposes.
If you plan to keep your valuable antiques til the day you die, you want to ensure their safekeeping for posterity. You are treasuring history here. You do not want your dim witted son-in-law to throw the Victorian Renaissance Revival table in a dumpster or ship it off to Goodwill. If the kids are not interested in keeping your antiques, they may earn some cash by selling them, something made easier for them with your written appraisal. You can find an appraiser in your area by checking out the American or the International Society of Appraisers.
Do not have an object appraised by the person you want to sell it to, unless you know and absolutely trust them. An unknown or unscrupulous antique dealer may offer you $150.00 for something which sounds just fine to you. But if they turn around and sell it for $5,000.00, you might not be so happy. And there is nothing that you can do about it.
When selling your antiques through a dealer, it behooves you to establish a relationship with a trustworthy and reputable person.
Identify Your Antique
Before you learn the value of a piece, you must first identify the item. If you want to identify an old item yourself be prepared to do some research. If you love antiques, this process can be a lot of fun as there is a lot to learn. Your local library will have a section of antique and collectible guides for everything from old furniture to hardware. These can be a valuable resource. Of course these kinds of books are available to purchase at a bookstore or online.
Online sites like Kovels and Replacements are an excellent resource for the identification of dishware.
There are collectors clubs for almost anything you can imagine. Find one appropriate to your item and check out the group's website. They can be a valuable source of information.
Search ebay with a description of your item to see if something very similar appears for sale.
When trying to locate similar items make sure that you use a thorough description. The more information you have will increase your ability to learn about your antique. Go from the general to the specific.
Look for maker's marks on the item. Dishware, for example, should have an image on the bottom called a back stamp. You can then look up that stamp. There are many types of, say, dishware that appear similar. My Blue Fjord plates may look a lot like the highly collectible Royal Copenhagen but a quick check of the back stamp (shown below) tells me the truth.
Many products have marks that change slightly over the years which can help you learn when the item was produced. Some furniture will show identifying marks as well. An authentic Stickley Morris type chair should have a decal on the bottom.
More on the Value of Antiques
Certain types of antiques hold their value even in a recession or in hard economic times. Metal such as bronze statues, silverware or other antique metal items can earn you a tidy sum of money. Of course sterling silver is worth much more than silver plate. Sterling silver is 92.5% silver. Silver plated flatware, trays, coffee pots, sugar bowls, creamers, and trays can be picked up at thrift shops for very low prices.
Religious items may not get you what you want. Old things are often valued due to scarcity. People keep religious items and pass them down for years. Also, may religious people feel uncomfortable selling a religious painting or statue, especially if it has been blessed.
Just because an object is attractive does not mean that it is valuable. A friend of mine was selling off some pieces and found that a very ugly old lamp sold for an impressive amount of money. The fact was the piece was rare and in demand by collectors.
The popularity of various items vary over time. Something that may have been a hot commodity in 1999 may have fallen out of fashion. Demand sets value. If lots of people are hunting for a particular item, the value will rise. Today, people like mid 20th century furniture and dishware so they can be quite expensive.
Design trends change the demand for antiques and collectibles. Modern buyers often look for the cleaner lines of minimalism. Overly ornate Victorian furniture does not fit that look. That means Victorian furniture, dishware, and decorative items may be cheaper than it was twenty years ago which is good news for buyers but bad news for sellers.
Modern trends favor Arts and Crafts styles with clean lines and simple forms in furniture, dishware, home decor, metalwork, and pottery.
If you bought an item because a company promised that it would eventually become valuable that does not mean that it has actually increased in value. Think about it - if everyone and their brother ran out and bought, then hoarded tons of say, Franklin Mint plates, then all decide at the same time to sell them, they will not be worth much. No one can see into the future so promises of an increase in value are meaningless.
Selling Your Antique or Collectible Item
Selling Your Antique or Collectible to a Dealer
Do not have an object appraised by the person you want to sell it to, unless you know and absolutely trust them. An unknown or unscrupulous antique dealer may offer you $150.00 for something which sounds just fine to you. But when they turn around and sell it for $5,000.00, you might not be so happy. And there is nothing that you can do about it.
When selling your antiques through a dealer, it behooves you to establish a relationship with a trustworthy and reputable person. Talk to people you know who can recommend an antiques or collectibles dealer that they have done business with in the past.
Selling Your Antiques and Collectibles on eBay
If you plan to sell your antique or collectible on eBay, you better know what you are doing. You can't just show up one day hoping for a bonanza, but need to establish your own reputation as an honest and trustworthy seller, especially if you do not have a bona fide appraisal to go along with the object that you are trying to sell. Learn the ins and outs of ebay auctions and always use PayPal.
Create a buzz for the antique that you wish to sell by hawking on other sites including social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Draw interest in your product by advertising, or writing articles about antiques, featuring the types of antiques or collectibles that you wish to sell. EBay charges a listing fee as well as a commision on the final sale price. PayPal also charges a fee based on the selling price.
Selling Your Antique or Collectible on Craigslist
I know plenty of people who have arranged successful deal s on Craiglist both buying and selling. But there are horror stories too. If you must ,arrange to meet the buyer in a public place for your own safety. Only accept cash. Of course, you can't sell a Victorian armoire and meet the buyer in the parking lot at Denny's. Well, maybe you can, but it may be a bit cumbersome and kind of ridiculous.
Selling Your Antique or Collectible at a Consignment Shop
Most consignment shops will arrange to pick up and item at your home. They generally charge 1/3 of the selling price. Pay attention to the contract and their sales practices. Some consignment shops lower the price drastically if the item does not sell in a specified amount of time. You want to be sure that you are comfortable with the lowered price.
Selling Antiques at Auction
An auction can be a good resource if you have a large collection of smaller items or one real good item. Auction can be good for you if you want to move a piece quickly, but you might not always be happy with the price.
The Antique Liquidators Association can provide you with information on reputable firms in your area. Liquidators will help you sell large quantities of items. If you have an entire house full of goods from an inheritance or if you are downsizing, these are the people for you. As they get a percentage of each sale, it behooves them to sell at the best price.
In the case of a very valuable antique, significant art, or a historically significant antique, you may want to establish provenance. If you want to sell the piece as an important artifact, you will have to do so. Provenance means that a paper trial has followed the item throughout the years. Receipts, letters, and other documents that have been handed down along with that item will serve that purpose.
Face it, anyone can say that George Washington ate off a particular plate. Someone's say-so is not proof. Some sites claim that a photograph can show provenance. A photograph may help but to say that just because you own the same chair shown in one of Mathew Brady's Abraham Lincoln portraits does not mean that your chair is the exact one shown in the picture.
Questions & Answers
Question: I have a $2 bill and I want to know what the value is?
Answer: Two dollar bills have been issued since 1862. Printing stopped in 1966 due to the unpopularity of the bill. It was brought back in 1976 for the U. S. Bicentennial. Another new series was printed in 1996. The two-dollar bill with Thomas Jefferson and a green seal on front; an engraving of a painting by John Trumball and Declaration of Independence 1776 on the back is a current bill. It is worth $2.00.
There is a perception of the rarity of two-dollar bills. After the Bicentennial printing, people kept them as souvenirs. The collecting craze of the late 20th century encouraged hoarding of the bills as a kind of investment.
Two dollar bills are often used at the horse races because the minimum bet is two dollars.
Valuable two dollar bills feature a red seal and were printed between 1928 - 1966 and are valued between four and twenty dollars.
For more information about paper currency, check out the website of the U.S. Department of Treasury, Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
Question: I have two old washing machines, square-topped with a ringer on top. How much are my washing machines worth?
Answer: Today, the hot commodity in vintage appliances are stoves, especially stoves in good working order. Any vintage appliance, including an old washing machine, is best valued if it's in great condition. Missing parts, dents, rust, scratches, and other mars will detract from value. Learn about your old washers including age, maker, name of the specific product, and the year it was made.
Vintage washing machines with squared tops and ringers appear on eBay for between $100.00 to $500.00 asking price. Check sites like eBay but check the sold prices as asking price may be unrealistic. Check out the Old Appliance Club online for more information, parts, etc.
There are people who restore vintage appliances for sale. See if you can find one in your area as they may be interested in buying yours. Selling on Craigslist is an option too. Selling through online auction sites may be difficult due to shipping costs. But some folks don't care about shipping costs.
Whatever you decide to do, once you learn about your product, make sure that you take excellent photographs. Show details of problems as well as close-ups of interesting features.
Question: I cleaned out the attic of a recently deceased relative, and she had lived in the home all of her 90+ years. She was always a snazzy dresser and would only wear the finest clothes, shoes etc. Well, I found several hats still brand new in their boxes, tied up with tags on them. Can you tell me how to determine their value? One hat is a tall fuzzy and round, made in Italy, and says "My Hat's From LadyByrd."
Answer: A vintage hat in mint or excellent condition will be worth more than a worn or damaged hat. Tags and labels can help you to identify any older product, so having these will help you learn more about the hats and assist you when you attempt to sell them. A hat made by a well-known designer will increase the value as well. Hats by Dior, Schiaparelli, Balenciaga, Mr. John, Lilly Dache, Graham Smith (as well as many other quality milliners) are in demand by collectors.
Of course, I can't tell you about your particular hat, but a company called Lady Byrd Hat Company produced hats in the 1960s in Richmond Virginia. Today, Lady Bird is an online hatter who produced vintage styles. The name Lady Bird was also used by a mid-20th-century company that made cotton shirt dresses.
Keep your old hats away from temperature extremes. Avoid moisture and sunlight. Wrap each hat in acid-free tissue for storage.
Before you decide to sell, identify each hat. Clean it carefully. Photograph each hat. Take several photos. Look out for holes, fading, discoloration, stains, shape (older hats often get squashed), and musty odors. Then take a look around online to see what your hats are going for. Visit online auctions or sites like Collector's Weekly, Rubyland, or Viva. Make sure you view the sold price. Check often as inventories can change quickly.
You can learn about older hats by checking out a book. Remember, price guides offered by older books will not reflect current values.
"Vintage Hats and Bonnets 1770 - 1970 Identification and Values" by Susan Langley
"The Century of Hats Head-turning Style of the 20th Century" by Susie Hopkins
"Women's Hats of the 20th Century for Designers and Collectors" by Maureen Reilly
"Hats A Stylish History and Collectors' Guide" by Jodie Shields.
Question: My mother in law just passed away and she has a lot of old style oil and maybe kerosene lanterns That hang and also nailed to the wall and sit on a shelf. I do not know how to tell how old they are and if I should think about selling them or keeping them that is my question what do you think?
Answer: The decision to sell or keep our family's old collections is purely personal. Sometimes just the association with a beloved family member is enough to create a sentimental value. Sometimes, the love of a particular collection (or single item) is a good reason to maintain ownership. The best reasons to sell or get rid of the old stuff is if you don't really care for it; if you are trying to downsize; or would prefer the money over the item.
You can learn more about the lanterns in a book like "Classic Lanterns: A Guide and Reference" by Dennis A. Pearson for Schiffer Books for Collectors or "Collectible Lanterns Including Household, Barn, and Railroad Lanterns" by L & W Books.
If you can't decide what to do with the lanterns why not just keep them around for a while until you can decide. After research, you may want to keep one or two for sentimental value.
Question: I have an unusual and beautiful dining room table, and six chairs. The set is made by the Grand Rapids Bookcase and Chair Company. I can't find any information about it online or see any photos of the exact set. It has a number under the manufacturer's name. How do I find out its value? I have to move away, and I'm not taking my furniture, so I am going to sell it, but I want to make sure it is worth it. Do you have any ideas?
Answer: Furniture produced by the Grand Rapids Bookcase and Furniture Company sells for a wide variety of prices. The company, in its many iterations, began in the late 1800s and produced furniture until the mid-1900s. The value of your set depends, of course, on demand. To help identify your pieces, look for the book: "Lifetime Furniture The Cloister Styles Grand Rapids Bookcase and Furniture Company" edited by Stephan Gray. This book only reflects the Lifetime products. For more information on mission furniture, look for " Mission Furniture Furniture of the American Arts and Crafts Movement" by Paul A. Royka. Also look for similar styles online.
Mission furniture by Grand Rapids Bookcase and Furniture Co. is not as valuable as Stickley products. If you think that your furniture is one of the more valuable styles, you might want to have it appraised. Contact the American Society of Appraisers to find a professional in your area. An appraisal will cost upwards of one hundred dollars.
The company also produced many styles including Spanish Gothic, Spanish Renaissance, Jacobean, and more.
Question: What should I look for in finding a good antique appraiser?
Answer: You can find a qualified appraiser by checking out the American Society of Appraisers, the Appraiser Association of America, or the International Society of Appraisers. You want to contact an appraiser who has knowledge specific to your item.
You can also ask your insurance agent, the trust manager at your bank or an estate lawyer.
Question: I have my grandmother's Capodimonte porcelain lamp with a crown and N. can you tell me more about it?
Answer: Original Capodimonte porcelain was produced in Naples, Italy between 1743 - 1759, then was revived between 1771 - 1806. These beautiful porcelain objects are rare and valued in the thousands of dollars.
In the 20th century, items marked Capodimonte were produced in Italy and feature a simple N with a simple stylized crown above it, in blue. There have been variations of marks over the years. That particular mark means the lamp was made between 1925 - 1967.
Twentieth-century decorative Capodimonte can appear quite old and ornate. They feature a variety of elements including romantic human figures, cherubs, flowers, scrolls, and gold highlights. The more valuable lamps have been reproduced but you can tell an authentic piece by looking for an artist's signature, though not all pieces have one. The best Capodimonte pieces come with a certificate of authenticity that includes a scroll design.
Although the public's interest in ornate, romantic design has faded over the years, a fine lamp in perfect condition can be worth hundreds of dollars. Rare, vintage lamps can fetch just above one thousand dollars. You can check the Capodimonte site and contact them for information on your particular lamp.
Capodimonte is still being produced today.
Question: Who would buy 1944/1945 war memorabilia?
Answer: There are people who collect militaria or items related to the military. Check out onlne groups or auction sites that specialize in World War II items. However, many people kept things from that important era so there are a lot of items out there. As baby boomers downsize, they often wish to divest themselves of sentimental things like the stuff their fathers saved from the War.
There is little value associated with ration books, German coins and stamps, military patches, uniform buttons, letters to and from home, or damaged goods.
Items that are valuable include the uniforms or insignia from elite forces. There is a market for German flags, armbands, knives, uniforms, helmets, and Japanese swords. However many auction sites will not sell Nazi items.
Check out sites that specialize in militaria. There you can find collectors' shows and other information relating to World War II. When you look for information, make sure to be specific in the description of each item. Words like "stuff" is way too general.
Question: I have a large collection of postcards from the early 1900s. Most still even have the stamp on them. I also know the history of them, the family's info and to whom these postcards were sent to. Where would I be able to find out the value of each individual postcard?
Answer: Since you have the postmarks, you know that the postcards are not reproductions. You will have to research each individual card by checking out the sold prices at online auction sites. Vintage postcards sell for a wide variety of prices depending on demand. Some themes are more popular than others. Certain companies like International Art Publihsing made cards that are in high demand today. Cards created by particular artists like Ellen Hattie Clapsaddle are desirable. Old Art Nouveaux style cards by artists like Mucha are valuable.
Like most older things, condition effects value.
Question: I have a John B. Welty coverlet with his name, Boonsboro County, Washington, Maryland 1840 shown into the corner. How do I find out if it's an original and what it's worth?
Answer: Before you try to learn the value of your quilt, you need to find out if it is an old one. There are clues to the age of a quilt in the stitching. Sewing machines were not invented until 1856, so if it was made in 1840, it was hand sewn. Look closely at the stitching. Any hint of irregularity suggests that it was hand stitched.
Also look at the fabric. If it contains any synthetic fabric, the quilt is newer.
If it is a fluffy quilt, chances are that it is a newer one made with polyester batting.
You can learn more about dating your quilt by checking out some books including:
Clues in the Calico - a Guide to Identifying and Dating Antique Quilts by Barbara Brackman
Dating Fabrics 1800 - 1960 by Eileen Trestain.
You can also look at some online sites for more information. Check out:
Quilt History - dating quilts,
A Facebook group of quilt enthusiasts called Quilts Antique and Vintage,
Quilt Guild Directory.
Question: I inherited an ancestor's civil war desk. It was reported to me that he was Ulysses Grant's physician. My family may have documentation validating these reports. Can you tell me anything about the best way to approach possibly selling this, especially if I can get documentation, and possibly pictures of him with the desk?
Answer: When you think that there is a historical tie-in to a piece of furniture, you must be able to provide documentation to back up your claim. Otherwise, anyone can say anything! Gather the documents. A photograph may not be enough. I may see a historic photograph with a piece of furniture that looks exactly like mine (as I once did) but that does not mean that the piece in the photograph is the same one that you own. But it may help if you have documents.
You may then want to hire an antique appraiser. Call your insurance agent or visit the site of the Appraiser"s Association of America. Make sure that you hire an appraiser who specializes in your field in interest. An appraiser may cost a few hundred dollars. You could also contact a high-end auction business like Sotheby's or Christie's.
Question: I have a few antique teacups and saucers, how can I get them appraised?
Answer: An appraisal will cost you some money, upwards of $150.00. If you think that your items are worth a great deal, go for it. But you may want to investigate for yourself in order to see if an appraisal is worth it.
Learn something about your cups and saucers first. Look at the bottoms of each piece to find the marks that can tell you who produced them. You can learn an approximate date of manufacture as well. Many companies changed their back stamps over time so this will help you get an idea.
Check your local library for books that can help you with the identification.
"Collectible Cups and Saucers : Identification and Value" by Jim Harron; "Kovel's New Dictionary of Marks" by Ralph Kovel; "Miller's Field Guide - Porcelain" by Judith Miller; "Pictorial Guide to Pottery and Porcelain Marks" by Chad Lage are just some of the books that may help you.
There are ways of locating items similar to your own online as well. Google image the backstamp, type of cup, color, pattern and see if cups and saucers like your own pop up. Beware of thinking that you have an expensive, high quality item by pattern alone. Copies of high end china are everywhere. Those copies can be nice when we don't want to use a very expensive antique piece of china for regular usage.
If you do think that your cups and saucers are very old or special, do not put them in the dishwasher. Clean them in warm water with a mild soap and hand dry with a soft cloth.
Question: Does a Seymour Mann doll style No ms-6v have any value?
Answer: Mass produced items made for the collectors' market do not hold their value. High values are usually found in older, unique items that are in high demand. Face it, no one can predict the future. When the collectible craze hit in the late 20th century, many companies produced plates, dolls, and other items touting them as investments. The sheer number of those such items should have suggested a false promise.
There are a high number of Seymour Mann dolls for sale at online auctions and sales sites. Many sit idle for some time. Prices range from five dollars to fifty dollars. Sales are slow. The demand for collectible porcelain dolls is low. Hue inventory plus low demand equal low value.
Question: I have a serving bowl given by an ancestor which is marked 1427 England. How can I find the value and a buyer?
Answer: The McKinley Tariff Act of 1891 mandated that companies inscribe the name of the country of origin on the bottom of a piece of China if it was to be imported to the United States of America. A number indicated the pattern. You should see the name of the company that produced the bowl as well. The company may be represented by an image such as a boat, wavy lines, an animal, a crown, circle, or a mix of shapes. You can Google image that shape to find the name of the company.
The images that manufacturers use often change slightly over the years so that can help you learn the approximate age of your bowl. Those words and images are inscribed beneath the glaze.
Once you can identify the company and the pattern, then you can find out the current value. Do not expect to find current values in older value guides as values change over the years. Look for similar items offered for sale online. Make sure that you learn the actual sale price, not the asking price.
This will be a bit of a project and take some time and patience.
Question: I have a lot of handmade quilts, ball jars, and stamps, can you please point me in the right direction of where to look this stuff up?
Answer: There is a book about everything so I am sure you can find books on these topics online (used) or at your local library.
Some suggestions for books about vintage quilts include:
"Vintage Quilts; Identifying, Collecting, Dating, Preserving, and Valuing" by Bobby Aug
"Miller's American Quilts: How to Compare and Value" by Stella Rubin
"Clues in the Calico: A Guide to Identifying and Dating Antique Quilts" by Barbara Brackman.
Remember that suggested values may not reflect modern prices. Also, if your quilts feature older textiles, some quilters use vintage textiles in making newer quilts. You need to learn how to identify patterns, textiles, etc. A book will also help you learn how to clean, store, and take care of your old quilts.
There is a Facebook group for antique quilts. You can also check out the International Quilt Museum site as well as the National Quilt Collection at the Museum of American History online.
For information on stamps find the American Philatelic Society or the Smithsonian National Postal Museum. Both sites offer lots of information and links to helps you learn about stamps.
You can learn more about Ball jars online. There are many sites that will help you learn how to date a Ball jar. Collectors clubs can be a font of information. Look for vintage or antique bottle clubs, many of which include old fruit canning jars. You can also check out some books on the topic including:
"The Collector's Guide to Ball Jars" by William F. Brantley
"Fruit Jars: A Collector's Manual" by Julian Harrison
Question: I have cookie jar that is over 100 years old. Where online I could get it valued?
Answer: What makes you think that your cookie jar is over 100 years old? Ceramic cookie jars were produced in the USA in the 1930s. If you are trying to learn about your item, you need to use clear terms in your description. Include the material it's made of, the size, color, and decorative features.
Look for the maker's mark on the bottom of the piece.
Before you can learn the value, you need to identify the cookie jar, who made it, and its age. The value will depend on the condition. Cracks and chips will devalue any older item.
You may find it difficult to get someone else to do this work for free. But you can do this yourself by looking at a book. Older books will not reflect current values but will help you identify your cookie jar. Look in these books to see if your piece is included:
"The Complete Cookie Jar Book" Schiffer Book for Collectors
"Ultimate Collector's Encyclopedia of Cookie Jars Identification and Values" by Fred Voring and Joyce Roering.
There are many books on cookie jars, and you may find one used or you can look in your library. Then, sign up on a site like Replacements, Kovels, or Worthpoint for help in finding the value. You can also look for online sales and check out the sold prices.
Question: If there isn't a stamp on my piece, does it mean it isn't of any value?
Answer: A piece of china or porcelain without a mark does not mean that it is not valuable. The McKinley Tariff Act of 1890 mandated marks on all imported dishware. However many producers of fine china used back stamps before that era. Older American pieces often have no mark. Parisian porcelain produced in Paris between 1815 and 1871 are not marked on the bottom.
Some dishware was marked with a label that may have fallen off over the years.
If you want to identify your dishware and there are no marks it may be a bit harder but not impossible. Do some Google image searching first. Describe your piece in the simplest manner possible. Describe what it is (say a plate), the size (platter, dinner, dessert), rim decoration (scalloped, gold, blue), and the pattern. Patterns can be described in as few words as possible. If it's floral pattern, mention the type of flower. Are the flowers tiny or large? Mention the color of the flower.
Other images may include landscapes, animals (mention the kind of animal), a portrait, windmills, sailboats, or anything else. If you don't find what you have, keep altering your description to make it as concise as you can.
Once you identify your dishware, you can find replacement values online at Kovels, Replacements, or Worthpoint. The replacement value does not mean that you will get that stated amount if you try to sell it.
Question: Are Occupied Japan china figurines worth anything?
Answer: Figurines and dishware marked Occupied Japan were produced in Japan during the American occupation following World War II from 1945 - 1952. Check to make sure that the mark is underneath the glaze.
In order to find the value of your items, you first need to identify what the item is. There are books that can help you with that. "Occupied Japan for Collectors" from Schiffer Publishing and "The Collector's Encyclopedia of Occupied Japan Collectibles" by Collectors Books can help you identify your items. They can not be counted on for value as they are years out of date.
Once you identify your pieces, then you can look for a current, online price guide for each individual item. Value, of course, depends on condition as well as current interest.
Question: My mother has a collection of at least 30 pieces of China brass. She would like to sell this collection and I have not found much info except what some pieces sell for on eBay which is surprisingly high amounts. Would this collection be better sold as a whole? How would I find the value?
Answer: Old Chinese brass objects hold most value if they are old. There are tons of overvalued pieces of Chinese brass offered on ebay and other online sites. Many sellers refer to their wares as "rare" when they are not. Also there are many reproductions of antique brass that can be very pretty. An artificial patina can be added to new brass by using common household chemicals. According to some experts, most of the antique Chinese brass offered online is fake.
Older brass may show some wear in points of frequent contact, such as edges and handles.
Look for a mark stamped on or near the bottom of the piece. Draw the mark or take a photograph. You can then research the marks on websites like Kovels, Marks4Silver, or Antiquemarks. You can also comparison shop on Artifact.com or Sotheby's.com.
If you know a reputable antique dealer, take the brass to them and see what they will offer or if they will do an evaluation. If some appears to be very valuable you can find an appraiser.
I am a big thrift shop fan and often see Chinese brass pieces. It was popular in the 1970s. Everyone had trays, vases, and little figurines that they purchased on the cheap.
How you determine how to sell your mother's brass is up to you.
Question: I have a sterling silver sauce boat no markings what's it value?
Answer: How do you know that it is sterling silver? Most sterling is marked. Check your piece closely for hallmarks on the bottom. You may need a magnifying glass as marks can be quite small. Most sterling silver is marked. Look for the Lion Passat, or left facing lion on British sterling. Sterling made in the U.S. after 1850 will show the word "sterling," or "ster," or ".925." Other countries have different hallmarks.
Learn the manufacturer and the pattern. Some silver products are in higher demand than others so command a higher price. You can do this by checking out a book on silver or consulting an online site like the online encyclopedia of silver hallmarks.
You can also run some tests at home to see if it is sterling. A magnet will not be attracted to sterling silver. Try the hot water test. Fill the boat with hot tap water. If it stays hot for some time, it may be sterling. If it cools quickly, it is probably not sterling. There are other tests you can find online.
The condition of your piece will affect the value. So will the price of silver in the commodity market.
You can check with an online silver matching service online like Replacements. Check out online auctions and look at sold listings. Disregard the asking price for a similar piece as anyone can ask anything for their wares in hopes of earning a high price.
Question: I have a United Airlines Friendship porcelain doll. It's still in the original box and well protected. It was manufactured by Price Products #3222 and manufactured in Taiwan. Is it worth selling?
Answer: The value of porcelain dolls is all over the place with prices from $5.00 into the thousands. Best value is for dolls that are 100 years old or more, in excellent condition, of high quality, or made by a well respected doll maker. During the 1980s, a doll collecting fad increased the mass production of dolls for the collecting market. People bought the dolls as an investment. If some company produces a product that claims it will be worth more in the future, think about it. No one can predict the future. Value is high for the unique, less for something that has been mass produced.
The charm factor effects value as well. A doll that has an adorable, cute, or prettily unusual face will be worth more than an average doll.
For information, join a doll collector's group like the United Federation of Doll Clubs. You can also check out Dollreference.com or Dollprice.com. Look at online auction sites and check sold prices. It's funny how you can see the same doll offered for a wide variety of prices.
Question: I have some old items that are worth something. So I would like them valued and sold do you know a good place to deal with?
Answer: You may want to think twice about having your items valued by the person who will sell it unless you already have a good relationship with the seller. An unscrupulous dealer could easily mislead you as to the value of your goods. A dealer can tell you that an item is worth little when it is actually worth a lot of money. Of course, most dealers are not crooks, but business is business.
An appraiser can identify and value your old pieces. There will be a fee, so you want to be pretty sure that your things have some value. You can learn a lot about your goods yourself before you commit to an appraisal that will cost well over one hundred dollars.
Then you can move on to a dealer. Of course, a dealer will need to cover his own costs and make a profit. So you can not expect to make the full value of an item if you sell it to a dealer. The same goes for consignment. Expect to part with about 1/3 of the sales prices if you sell on consignment.
You can find an appraiser by checking out the American Society of Appraisers or by contacting your insurance agent.
If you don't already have a relationship with an antique dealer, ask around. Ask your friends, relatives, and neighbors if they know someone you can trust. A dealer might not buy everything you have even if it is valuable. They will buy what they think they can sell. If your goods are fine antiques, or quite valuable, you will want to deal with someone who specializes in fine antiques. There are many kinds of dealers out there who specialize in all kinds of things - dishware, furniture, artwork, primitive, European or Asian antiques, etc.
Question: I have china that is stamped "Hawthorn." It also has Franconia from Bavaria Germany and the number 40 on it. Do you have any information on this?
Answer: The Hawthorn pattern is very pretty with its delicate green leaves and white flowers. Researching the backstamps on older china can be quite time-consuming. You may want to check out the site Porcelain Marks and More to find more information.
The book "A Pictorial Guide to Pottery and Porcelain Marks" by Chad Lage may come in handy as well.
Question: I have Vintage Lorain clear dishes. How can I sell them?
Answer: Lorian Depression Glass was produced by the Indiana Glass Company from 1928 - 1932. The relatively short production time means that less Lorian was produced than many other popular patterns. Before you decide to sell, check carefully for chips and cracks. Understand that during the mid-20th-century love affair with Depression Glass lots of reproductions were made and sold as the real thing.
I can't tell you where to sell your items. If you sell directly to a collector, you will realize more money than if you sell through a dealer or at a consignment shop. If someone else sells for you, they need to reap a percentage of the sales price. Many dealers will lower prices on items if they are not sold after a certain amount of time.
You can try to sell them yourself on eBay, Etsy or another online sales site. If you decide to do that remember that you have to check the site often and package and mail the dishware.
You may want to check out the National Depression Glass Association for more information. They feature a dealer directory as well as lots of information on Depression Glass.
Question: I live in Middletown, Ct and I have some rare Barbie dolls still in the box that are worth a lot. So who should I bring them to, to get looked at?
Answer: The United Federation of Doll Collectors is a font of information about dolls so you may want to check out their site to learn of doll conventions and dealers. You could sell them yourself at an online auction site. If you have a local dealer who specializes in dolls or toys you may want to talk to them. A dealer will generally want 1/4 to 1/3 of the selling price.
Before you attempt to sell your Barbies, learn their values. Good Housekeeping and Marl & B have an online list of the most valuable Barbies. A handy book with identification and price guide that is up to date is: "The Complete & Unauthorized Guide to Vintage Barbie Dolls: With Barbie, Ken, Francie, and Skipper Fashions and the Whole Family " by Hillary James Schilkitus.
Question: I ended up with a lot of things from my Grandmother's estate sale, a sterling silver serving platter with a red type of lion on the bottom, and I did find a very small stamp into the metal. To this day I have not cleaned it. It's been wrapped and put up; I was told that it belonged to my Great Grandmother. Do you have advice?
Answer: If I were you, I would use and display this beautiful and sentimental silver platter. The lion is the British mark that indicates your piece is sterling. Look at the other symbols on the bottom of your platter to learn more about it. You will see several marks which will indicate who made the platter, and where it was from. As marks change over the years, you may also learn the age.
Check out a site - Hallmarks of English Silver Makers' Marks and Identification to learn more about the history of your silver.
Tarnish may damage sterling. Polish it slowly and gently with a gentle silver polish like Wright's which is available in many stores. Do not use one of those chemical dips or one of those homemade dips like the one with boiling water and salt. Sometimes it looks nice when you leave a bit of tarnish in the detail work as it gives a depth to the piece.
If you chose not to display your platter, keep it away from dampness. Wrap it in a cloth made specifically for silver storage.
There is something special about keeping the old things that belonged to long-gone relatives. I have some things that belonged to great grandmothers who I never met, who died before I was born. I can handle or treasure some of the things they held dear. It's a kind of connection that can mean a lot.
Question: Does a 12 piece complete set of Princess Elizabeth Red by Myott Staffordshire 2849BU have any value?
Answer: This pretty dishware can be found at online sales and auction sites, usually offered as single pieces, or limited sets. I have seen individual plates offered at ten dollars, and a group of four dessert plates for $35.00. But that is just the asking price. My own single plate in that pattern (I have an odd collection of mismatched pieces of all types) was picked up at a thrift store.
The demand for floral, lacy patterns is low right now while lots of people are selling. That means that you may find a buyer if you keep your price low.
Question: How can I find out how much a glass bottle I have found is worth? It says on it co-operative society and at the bottom, it says please rinse and return.
Answer: In the old days, glass bottles were reused that's why it says to rinse and return. When I was a kid, you returned bottles and earned a few cents. It was a great way to recycle, keep our roads and paths litter free, and pick up some candy money.
Agricultural cooperative societies have been around for hundreds of years. Farmers can pool their resources for marketing, packaging, transportation, and delivery. There are many of these cooperatives still around. Some are marked with the name of the area. One milk bottle I saw recently was marked Birmingham Cooperative Society and offered for 2 pounds or $2.50.
To find out more about your specific bottle, try the Bottle Research Group of the Society of Historical Archeology or the Encyclopedia of Manufacturers Marks on Glass Containers. Both can be found online.
Question: I have some blue glass, but I’m not sure how much they’re worth. Where would I be able to find someone to help with that?
Answer: If you mean that beautiful cobalt blue, a very deep blue, your glass has a huge following. You can identify what you have with a little investigation. Are there any marks on the bottom? Is the glass dishware, drinking glasses, or bottles?
If you have bottles, there is a ton of information out there. If you mean glassware for home use, and if it is old there are books out there for you to peruse. "Cobalt Blue Glass Edition" by Monica Clements. If you think that it's Depression Glass try " Depression Glass: A Collector's Guide" by Doris Yeske; or " Warman's Depression Glass Handbook - Identification, Values, Pattern Guide" by Ellen Schroy.
How I go about finding out how much a hand painted set of dishes is worth?
Answer: To learn the value of your dishware, you first need to identify what you have. Check the bottom of the plates to look for a back stamp. Marks on the bottoms of plates, bowls, cups, etc. can help you learn who manufactured the pieces. As companies often made slight changes to their marks, these differences can help you date the dishware. There are many informative books on the subject. It's best to narrow down your search. If you look at older price guides, remember that values change over time. So the stated value in an older book will not reflect current prices.
Once you get an idea of who made your dishware, you can find values online at Kovels, Replacements, or Worthpoint. You need to establish an account for specific values.
Question: I have a collectible metal sign. How do I find out worth?
Answer: As old metal signs are very popular now, many sites offer to identify and value them. Look for a site that has information on your particular sign. Include the size of the sign in your description. Collectors Weekly features some information on the topic.
The value will depend on demand, rarity, and the condition of your piece. Many old metal signs were lost to World War II scrap drives, and many deteriorated due to weather or sloppy storage. Remember that during the collectible craze of the late 20th century, many reproductions were created as decorative pieces and were popular wall hangings in restaurants.
Is a price listed on the sign? If so, it is probably not authentic. As prices change and a sign is an expense and not easily altered, stamped or painted on prices may mean your sign is a repro. Hold a magnet to the sign. An older sign has a greater chance of actually being old if it attracts the magnet.
An old sign will probably show some damage including small dents, rust marks, fading, scratches, or chips. A tiny hole or small dent will show some rust around it.
"Vintage Signs of America" by Debra Jane Seltzer is a new book published in 2018. Older books will not reflect current value.
If you have the sign of a product produced by a company that is still in business, you may learn some information on their website. For instance, Coca-Cola has a page on memorabilia, trays, and signage.
Question: I have a large amount of old silver coins. I want to sell them. How do I determine their value?
Answer: The value of old coins depends on the condition, age, demand, materials used and many other factors. Before you attempt to sell, learn about what you have.
Some websites may help you identify your coin, its condition, and values. Try Coin Today, Numistra, or the Professional Numismatics Guild. Also take a look at an appropriate book like: Standard Catalog Pf World Coins.
You can also join a coin collectors club. Visit trade shows and dealers to see what they have and how they price their coins. Look around online at the kinds of prices various sites offer. There can be a wide variety of asking prices for old coins, so you need to shop around.
Once you gather all your information, you can determine the value. Then you can attempt to sell them yourself online, contact a collectors group, or find a dealer who will give you a reasonable price.
Question: I have a small blue glass medicine bottle with the glass dropper still workable. Where would I go to find out the price to sell it for?
Answer: Before you try to sell your old bottle, you should identify it. Bottles, like many old things, command a variety of prices depending on the market, the condition, and rarity of the piece.
Begin your search by looking at your bottle. You say that it is blue - but is it an aqua blue or cobalt? Take note of the size, the neck, any embossing, and the mold seams. A mold seam, for instance, can help age the bottle depending on how high it goes (to the shoulder, to the neck, etc.). Once you can describe your bottle, then you can begin to hunt for information,
Embossed bottles make it easy to identify. Companies and local druggists produced bottles with raised lettering containing information like the druggist's name or the city in which it was made.
Look for books on antique bottles such as:
The Bottle Book - A Comprehensive Guide to Historic, Embossed Medicine Bottles by Richard F. Fike.
Antique Trader Bottle Identification Guide by Michael Polak
Picker's Pocket Guide to Bottles How to Pick Antiques Like a Pro by Michael Polak
There are also many informative websites like:
Antique Bottle Depot
Historic Glass Bottle Indentification and Information Website
Society for Historical Archaeology- Bottle Dating
Once you identify your bottle, then you can decide on pricing. Older books will not reflect current markets. Look online to see if your specific bottle appears on an auction site or antique bottle site. Check out prices especially sold prices.
You can also learn more about old bottles, collectors, dealers, and shows by joining the Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors.
Question: I have crocks and several older items. Some are from Germany. How do I sell them?
Answer: Although many antiques have lost some value due to modern tastes and the downsizing trend, older European country items are quite popular. The simplicity of rustic and provincial European kitchenware is beloved by the minimalist and the shabby chic lover.
You might want to contact a local dealer who specializes in European antiques. Also consider a boutique that sells rustic, farmhouse, and painted furniture. These types of shops often include things like old European crocks, antique linens, and antique kitchenware. Older European stuff is hot!
Question: I live in Ohio and was wondering where to begin in terms of valuing and selling my old things? I have a box of items that I think may be worth something, but I can't afford to pay an attorney at this time. What should I do?
Answer: You don't want to pay a lawyer to identify antiques. Read the article and decide on a game plan. Try to find out exactly what it is that you have. This may take some time, but research can be fun. There are many books available on a wild range of items, whether it's dishware, jewelry or whatever.
Question: Is there any value in old blue glass?
Answer: Old cobalt glass is so pretty and can be quite collectible. Of course, that depends on what kind of glass you have. Cobalt blue Depression glass like Aurora or Royal Lace is very desirable so can command a high price. The most expensive pieces would be the rare ones like mixing bowls or refrigerator dishes. Small vintage cobalt blue vases can be found at thrift shops for next to nothing. So it depends on what you have.
There are many modern pieces of cobalt blue glassware as well as reproductions. You must first learn to identify what it is that you have before you can access the value. Find a helpful book on Depression Glassware to learn what you have.
If you mean that you have blue bottles (I love those cobalt blue medicine bottles, they are so pretty) here is a book that may help you:
"Cobalt Blue Glass Edition" by Schiffer Books was printed in 2001 so will not reflect current values but can help you identify your items.
Question: I inherited several pieces of Gildea & Walker Melbourne china. I know there's some value to the china, but are the more vibrantly colored patterns more valuable than just the plain brown-on-ivory patterns? My china has an owl aesthetic pattern on the platters and soup tureens. Where can I find more information on the history of Gildea & Walker?
Answer: Gildea & Walker produced china in Stoke-on-Trent England from 1881 - 1885. Their name changed through the years as the company changed ownership. Some books that may be informative is "Stoke-on-Trent A History" by David Taylor and "Stoke-on-Trent a Journey Through the Potteries" by Steve Ainsworth and Tony Lax. These are about the area known for pottery production.
I have seen the vibrantly colored and the brown and white china similarly priced with only a few dollars in difference. The value is in the piece. There were more plates and bowls produced than soup tureens. A tureen, sugar bowl, teapot, or anything with a lid and handles are more valuable than a plate or bowl. Also, lids and handles can easily break so that effects rarity and can increase value.
I saw a set of three Gildea & Walker bowls that sold for four dollars on an estate sale page and the same three appearing on eBay for much much more.
Question: I have several collectible and antique frames. How do I go about selling these?
Answer: Before you try to sell your old frames, you should attempt to identify them. Antique frames can be quite valuable but make sure that you don't have reproductions. In the 1980s there were many frames made to look old, and I saw one on eBay that I know is a reproduction because I had the very same one.
Collectors want Victorian (or earlier) ornate handmade frames, especially if they are signed by the craftsman who made it. Certain artists created their frames as well as rendering value. Collectors also want frames made that reflected the style of the day, say Eastlake or Art Deco.
Frames should be in perfect condition. Features like gold or silver leaf or iconic decorations are highly desirable. Before you try to sell any item, you should find out what it is. Check out some books to help you:
"Collecting Picture and Photo Frames" from Schiffer Books for Collectors
"Antique American Frames - Identification and Price Guide" by Eli Wilner
"Looking at European Frames - Guide to Terms, Styles, and Techniques" by D. Karraker.
Some of these books are older and information will not reflect current value but will help you learn about old frames. You can then look for more specific values online. Selling them is up to you. You can contact a local dealer who may buy them outright or sell them on consignment. Of course, you will not earn top value as the dealer must make a profit and cover overhead. You can sell them on an online auction site that specializes in antiques and collectibles.
Question: What is my cabbage patch doll worth?
Answer: The production of Cabbage Patch dolls began in Georgia in 1979 and was designed by Xavier Roberts. Coleco bought the franchise and began mass marketing in 1982 leading to a fad that had people standing in line outside of toy stores for hours in the cold in order to buy their children dolls for Christmas. By the end of the 1980s, interest in the doll faded and Coleco fell into bankruptcy.
Cabbage Patch dolls have been reintroduced by Mattel in 1994, and another release occurred in 2004. Coleco dolls had vinyl heads and cloth bodies. Hasbro and Mattel sold all vinyl dolls. Xavier Roberts Babyland General Cabbage Patch dolls had cloth faces. Early Xavier Roberts versions can sell for over one thousand dollars. Early Coleco dolls can earn you up to one hundred dollars. Valuable dolls will be in prime condition, in original box, and rare.
Most Cabbage Patch dolls have little value as they were produced in mass. Most items created for an instant collector's market hold little value.
Question: I have a large lead cut crystal candy jar with a lid. It's over seventy-years-old. Where can I get an appraisal?
Answer: Before you get your candy jar appraised you may want to learn more about it by doing some research. An appraisal will cost over one hundred dollars. If your candy jar is worth $25.00 that would be a waste of money. That being said, you can find an appraiser by contacting your insurance agent or by checking out the American Society of Appraisers. Always look for an appraiser in your area who specializes in what you want to be appraised.
But before you spend your money, take a look at some books that may help you including:
Identifying American Brilliant Cut Glass by Bill Boggess
American Cut and Engraved Glass - The Brilliant Period in Historical Prospective by M.L. Swan
The Brilliant period ended around the time of World War I.
Or, you can try to find something similar on eBay Scan for crystal candy jar with lid, add any significant details into your description. This may take some time, but it can help you narrow down your search. You can also see what kind of prices dealers are asking for each piece.
Also check out online - Glass Lovers Database.
Question: I have an Italian marble soap/jewelry/ashtray dish. Who can I trust to value it correctly and where do I locate someone dealing in Italian marble?
Answer: How do you know that it is Italian marble? Take your stone dish to someone who deals in stone. There are lots of stone businesses these days with the popularity of marble and granite for counters, tables, etc. A knowledgeable dealer will be able to tell you if it is marble and, if so, what kind. Visit two different dealers to see if you get the same answer. Most will not charge you for this. If it is very valuable, the dealer may not be able to give you any actual value, but may be able to suggest that it is or is not valuable. (A friend of mine has a counter top business and he is quite knowledgeable and just loves stone.)
Is the piece newer or old? If it looks dull and has some scratching (look very closely for these) it may be old. Search around online for similar items. Once you learn the material for sure, describe the material in the search bar. Include the item's size, color (both primary and secondary), shape, and any details. A detail would include a wide or thick rim, or indentations for cigarettes. Obviously, if there are indentations for cigarettes, it is not ancient.
If you begin to suspect that your stone tray is very old or valuable, you should take it to an appraiser. You don't want to do this a first because the appraiser's charge may be more than the item is worth. Find an appraiser in your area by checking out the American Society of Appraisers, by calling your insurance agent, or asking the trust manager at your bank.
Question: I am looking for an estimated value of pink depression glass. Can you give me an idea if I send you pictures?
Answer: While I cannot quickly identify your glass, there are simple ways for you to do so. Pink was a popular color produced by many manufacturers.
Find a book about Depression glass, there are many, and your local library will probably have some.
Many guides break down into color, shapes, etc. Find companies that made pink Depression glass, then look at your piece. Is it a plate, bowl, saucer, or whatever?
Find a similar shape design on a chart. You can also find these charts online. You may be surprised at how unique the shapes are. Look for squared, rolled, beaded, or rounded edges. Look for indentations on the rims for one similar to your piece.
Then look closely at the pattern motif which may include geometric designs, florals, birds, blocks, bows, diamonds, fruit, or whatever detail is similar to your item.
You should quickly identify who made your glass as well as the pattern. Then you can look at online auctions or online shops, at local antique shops, to see what your items are selling for. Older books will not reflect current values but will help you learn about what you have.
Question: I have an old watercolor of a water bird that appears to be unsigned, how should I go about getting some information about it?
Answer: Your best bet is to contact an auction house that specializes in antiques and/or art. Try local houses first. Many auction houses will offer a free evaluation of even an unsigned painting, especially if it is high quality or interesting painting in a good frame. Estimates are provided for works that they think will sell. They will not be interested in low quality work.
Contact the auction house via email. Attach a high-quality photo of your painting.
You can also contact local art dealers. If they are interested, they may offer some information that will help you. If, indeed, the painting appears very interesting to a dealer, take it to several. Remember that a dealer can offer you a tiny fraction of what it is worth in order to make a hefty profit.
Question: I have a large picture of the Twin Towers before 9/11. Is it worth anything?
Answer: Photographs of the Twin Towers abound. After all, it was not that long ago they stood as landmarks in New York City. There are millions of prints and postcards in existence.
Your photograph may have value if it is an original taken by a well-known photographer. If it is, then research the name of the photographer online.
Question: I have letters to and from Martha Berry and have no idea if they are worth anything or how to find out. Do you know?
Answer: Martha Berry founded Berry College in Rome, Georgia. It began as a boys industrial school in 1902. A girls school was added in 1909. It became a college in the 1920s and was granted full accreditation in the 1950s.
Please do not store your old letters in the attic or basement but in a closet in the living section of your home. Place each letter in an acid free paper or plastic envelope, acid free file folder, or archival acid free document box.
While I can not tell you the exact value of your letters, you could find some information, or consider donating the letters to the Martha Berry Digital Collection. You can find them online.
If you want to have them appraised, locate a local professional through the American Society of Appraisers. Expect to pay $50.00 - $60.00 for the service.
Question: I inherited two Clay Sketches heron vases. I remember them being on my grandparent's mantel forever. I did some research and saw they are from around the 1950s, and they are still in perfect condition. I am considering selling them. However, I can not find any information on their worth. What do you suggest?
Answer: Cy and Edna Peterson began production of Clay Sketches figurines and vases in 1943 and operated until 1957. California potteries produced many items for commercial, industrial, and home use from the 1930s until the 1960s. The greatest time of production was during and just after the war years as the USA was not importing ceramics or other decorative items due to World War II. Once Japan re-entered the market producing inexpensive knick-knacks, vases, figurines, and kitchenware, US production of these kinds of items declined.
Clay Sketches often featured birds. To sell these cute vintage bird figurines and vases, they need to be in perfect shape. While I have seen one such item on Etsy for $119.00, that is a high asking price. Look around online for similar sales, and you will see that comparable objects sell for between $10.00 and $40.00. Remember that many of the prices are the asking price, not what the Clay Sketches actually sold for. Sites like Worthpoint will show the selling price if you are signed into the site.
Question: I have a marble top pedestal coffee table. It is very large and heavy. Is it worth anything?
Answer: Marble topped tables have been produced for years. Before you learn the value of your table you need to identify what it is that you have. Marble topped tables were popular during the Victorian era. You can look at the design of the base to help you learn if it is old. Google image Victorian marble topped pedestal tables to see if anything looks familiar. However, the Victorians were not big on coffee tables so this may be just made in the Victorian style.
Contemporary furniture makers have produced coffee tables that resemble various Victorian styles. Companies like Restoration hardware today produce beautiful coffee tables with marble tops. They aren't cheap.
The table is heavy because marble is very heavy. Weight does not have anything to do with value. Chances are that if it is good condition, there may be some value but I certainly can not give you any information on this. No one can help you with something like this unless you provide more information. In general, it may be difficult to get someone else to value your furniture for free. But you can search for the information yourself online.
Question: I have a lot of old costume jewelry. How do I start the process of getting rid of them?
Answer: The value of old costume jewelry is all over the place. You can find plastic bags full of it at thrift stores, and you can see it for sale at online auctions for some hefty prices. It all depends on what you have, how old it is, how desirable it is today, and the condition.
Before you sell your old jewelry, you should learn more about it so you can estimate their value. There are so many books on the subject; I am sure that you can find some at your local library.
Question: I have a tea set, although some of the paint seems to have faded. The number at the back of the cup is 8099, and named Colclough China, made in Longton (not stamped very clearly) England. Is the set worth anything? The other is more clear and name is Longton but number is not clear. Could be X021. Again, are they of any financial worth? I did read an answer in which you stated that China tea sets are not wanted because the youth doesn't drink out of teacups anymore.
Answer: Colclough China opened operations in 1890 and continued production until 1996 creating some very pretty patterns. In the early 1950s, Colclough merged with Ridgeway. Products from this company appear in many online auction and dealer sites offered for a wide variety of prices. Your tea set is in a pale blue decorated with filigree.
When you wonder if there is value in any item, it depends on what you mean by value. I recently saw a teacup and saucer in your pattern offered for about $10.00 on one site. That was not a sold price, so it depends on whether someone is willing to pay that price. In general, a complete set would be more valuable than odds and ends. Sets are often incomplete due to breakage after years of use. Teacups are often lost to the breakage of handles. Pieces with handles and lids are less widely available than plates and saucers.
Look around online checking out Colcough backstamps. See what similar sets are going for and price your set accordingly. If you want to move your product, you may want to price it a bit lower than others being offered.
I don't recall if I said that young people don't want teacups but that sounds right. So many people are downsizing or trying to sell their stuff online that there is a glut of pretty, vintage china, especially with delicate or flowery patterns.
Question: I have a woodland, Enoch Wedgewood dinner set that was founded in 1835 and I wanted to know its worth? Who can I contact with regards to selling if my dinner set is an antique?
Answer: Enoch Wedgewood was a cousin of the famous Josiah Wedgewood. The cousins formed separate companies From 1860 - 1965 Enoch's company was called Wedgewood & Company. from 1965 it was called Enoch Wedgewood Turnstall Ltd. In 1980, the company was named Unicorn Pottery.
Your woodland pattern is very pretty whether it is the blue and white or red and white. I have seen the woodland pattern on etsy and ebay. Prices range from $8.00 to $10.00 for a lunch or dessert plate and $18.00 for a platter.
The date 1835 just refers to the fact that the original company was founded in 1835. Dates on plates can also indicate when a pattern was introduced and does not reflect the date it was made.
How you want to sell your dinner ware is up to you. You can go the onine route or contact a local dealer. Make sure that you have a general idea of the value first. Remember that a dealer must make overhead and profit so will take about 1/3 of the sale price. Find a reputable dealer by asking around to see if anyone has a trusted source. An unscrupulous dealer can easily offer you much less than is fair.
The examples of the Woodland pattern that I have seen were made in the 1960s so were not antique. Just because it is not an antique does not mean that it is not valuable.
You can also try to sell at a consignment shop. There too you will have to part with about 1/3 of the selling price.
Dolores Monet (author) from East Coast, United States on November 25, 2019:
Before you can get an idea of the value of your set, you need to identify the pattern and maker. Search around the internet to see if you can find something similar. Honeycomb water pitchers and pitcher sets were made by many companies over the years including:
Fenton Art Glass produced a pretty green honeycomb set that showed clear green with a green opalescent top
Jeanette Glass made a Florescent Green Uranium Honeycomb or Hex Optic pattern
Anchor Hocking's "Georgian" is often called honeycomb
Hobbs Brockunier made a lovely honeycomb pattern in the 19th century
Honeycomb patterns were also produced by Viking Mosser, Flint Glass, Gillinder & Sons, and many more.
Once you identify your pattern, you can hunt around online for sold prices. Some sites want you to join the site for sold price information while others do not.
Coleen Meredith on November 25, 2019:
I have a vintage honeycomb water pitcher set with 5 glasses and want to no how much it is worth
Dolores Monet (author) from East Coast, United States on September 26, 2019:
Hi sidetracked1 - your chairs may be created by the technique known as intarsia. Find and contact a museum that has a collection of Islamic art. Talk to someone in that department and ask for information - how you can learn more about intarsia furniture, if they can suggest contacts that can help you. I tried this once years ago while trying to learn more about an item and the person I spoke with was quite helpful. Good luck!
sidetracked1 on September 25, 2019:
Hello! I inherited a pair of very interesting folding Middle-Eastern or Northern African wooden chairs decorated with inlays. From looking around on line they would seem to be from perhaps Egypt, Morocco or Syria. They are in need of some repair and restoration.
My parents had these for at least 50 years, maybe more. I believe they were a gift, but have no further idea of their history. I have no idea how old they are, or if the inlay is real mother of pearl. I wondered if you had any suggestions as to how to research their value and/or their history. My local antique dealers are stumped. Thank you!
Dolores Monet (author) from East Coast, United States on September 23, 2019:
I am wondering if part of the lettering is obscured. Could it be "YUGOSLAVIA" ? Furniture made in Yugoslavia can be found at online auction and sales sites. Look for something similar to your own piece to get an idea of what you have.
Such furniture was made in mid century modern or Danish modern styles as well as in "Early American" styles. Beech was the most common wood used by Yugoslavian manufacturers. If you know someone who knows woods, maybe they can help you with that.
Danish modern or mid century modern furniture is most valuable when it was made by a well regarded furniture maker, or was produced in a Scandinavian country. Well made examples were also produced in Italy and France.
I can not tell you exactly what your rocker is, but only suggest that you follow my advice for further research. Once you get an idea of what is is that you have and its value, then consider any added insurance. You would have to speak to your insurance agent to learn about riders or added insurance for special, vintage, or antique items. If, say the value of the chair is $100.00, you would not need added insurance.
K. Bixler on September 20, 2019:
I have an old wooden rocker. I was cleaning it, when I noticed on the underside of the seat some lettering in a circle. Only part of it is visible. It is all in capital letters, and is as follows: GOSLAVIAVIII. Would this have any significance as to where, or who made it, or if it is an antique? I purchased it from someone on facebook marketplace for $50. I love it and if it is an antique would love to insure its proper value.
Dolores Monet (author) from East Coast, United States on July 22, 2019:
Most trunks were made in the U.S.A. between the 1860s to the early 1920s. Most were covered with leather, canvas, or decorated tin. There are a few aspects that can help you narrow down a date. For instance belt like closings usually date before the 1870s. Canvas was used as a covering from 1880 - the early 1900s. Most canvas was painted, usually green.
I am not sure what you meant about the slats. If they go from front to back it was made after 1880.
You know the old adage: one picture is worth a thousand words? Why don't you find a book so that you can really look at various old trunks and read the many details that can help you date it.
"Antique Trunks An Identification and Price Guide" by Pat Morse and Linda Edelstein can be found used online. Disregard the price guide as that information is outdated.
juststacyhere on July 20, 2019:
So pleased to find your article. I have done some research on a trunk I found at a thrift store. It has most definitely never been restored, and is somewhat well preserved because the canvas is still intact. It has a low profile, flat top with the slats on top going horizontally, rather than vertical. It has metal slats with some type of bolts on the edges. It has no latches and no indicators that it ever did. It does have a lock and what looks like leather straps (like on a belt) where the latches would normally be. I found info that stated latches were patented in 1872. Can you help me date this piece. I am at a dead end. Thank you!
Dolores Monet (author) from East Coast, United States on November 27, 2018:
If you are looking for a specific item for sale (for price comparison) online, remember that inventories change quickly and often. So you might want to check daily for items similar to your own.
Scandinavian mid century glass is very popular these days so you should have no trouble finding a buyer. Most of the glassware that I have seen made by Afors (or Kosta Boda) includes higly polished art glass, vases, and decorative bowls. Prices range from $90.00 - $190.00.
Ernest Gordon designed for Afors between 1953 - 1963. Tulpan means tulip!
Dumpster01 on November 25, 2018:
Hello... My wife and I have a large set of distinct mid-century hand blown glass, stemware and barware from the Scandinavian Afors factory (now Kosta Boda). It was designed by Ernst Gordon and is called 'Tulpan'. We have scoured the internet trying to find current prices of this particular set... we've even e-mailed the factory but haven't heard back from them. We can find nothing on any of the antique glass sites, auction sites, eBay, etc. Can you suggest something we may have overlooked? If they were common, I'm sure we would've found them online by now.
Dolores Monet (author) from East Coast, United States on June 26, 2018:
Hi Angel - Clay Sketches figurines were produced in California from 1943 - 1957. Popular during and just after the war years, when the USA was not importing knick knacks or other decorative items, the company and others like it folded in the 1960s when cheap imports became available.
I am not sure why you think that the bird figurines are rare or valuable. I have seen many items by Clay Sketches priced from $30.00 for a set of three birds (that's $10.00 a piece) to about $40.00. In order to sell your herons, they need to be in perfect condition.
You can try to sell them at an online auction site or to a local dealer or consignment shop. Of course if someone else sells them for you, they will want about 1/3 of the selling price. The selling price depends on local demand. I have seen many of these cute items in shops that sell vintage items but have never seen any for the $119.00 asking price shown on one ebaby item.
When attempting to find value by looking at ebay asking prices, remember to ignore the highest prices. People often attempt to sell items by claiming that they are rare in order to inflate the price.
Angel on June 23, 2018:
I have inherited 2 beautiful heron vases that are signed on the bottom Clay Sketches Pasadena Southern California. I remember these being on my grandparents fireplace mantel for my entire childhood. I did try to do some research on their value but I couldn't find much except they are considered rare and valuable they are from about the '50s and most of what I am seeing it looks like they usually come as one not in a set ? I live in Maryland and I'm looking to possibly sell them, do you have any ideas where I would go or if there would be someone online that would be interested??
Dolores Monet (author) from East Coast, United States on September 07, 2017:
Hi Jennifer - with your time constraints it would be impossible to do this yourself. Hire a local estate sale liquidation company. They will charge a percentage so the more you make, the more they make. Check local firms with the Better Business Bureau. When a friend of mine sold the contents of a deceased relative's home, he found that a piece the family considered an ugly, ridiculous lamp was worth quite a lot. A pro will understand what you have and price accordingly. Good luck! (Sorry to hear of the loss of your mother. Remember to keep a few items for yourself as a reminder of your mom and the things she loved.)
Jennifer on September 05, 2017:
Thank you for the info. My mother recently passed away and her house is full of primitive antiques, dolls, bears & nick nacks. My sister & I both live out of state and we will only be in town for about a week to get the house emptied out. I would like to try to sell the antiques ahead of time if possible. Any suggestions would be appreciated. She lives in South Florida which does not seem to be a popular antique area...