a gavel slamming down

What’s it Worth?

Sotheby's_auctioneer_Adrian_Biddell_(6440873251)wikicommonsI had the privilege of speaking with a 2nd generation auctioneer recently and I want to share the information I learned with you. The premise of the call was to help professional organizers learn what does, and does not have value in the auction market so that we can give our clients the most up to date information. After all, we are not experts, but we need to be able to direct our clients to the best solution to meet their needs.

The most important thing I learned was that this is not a financially good time to be selling your household items, furniture or collections. Not to say you shouldn’t try to sell your items now… If you have things to get rid of, you NEED to get rid of them.

Unless you have a Tiffany lamp or other valuable items to store, it’s not worth paying for a storage unit to hold onto things until the market has improved – – it could be 20 years before that happens.

This may sound grim, but I think we all (me included) have to be realistic. In one instance, I took some diamonds to a well respected auction house and was disappointed by their estimates. I ended up getting a better price at the local jeweler. In another instance, I took a 1920s English sterling silver set to another well respected auction house and the range that they gave me was less than if I melted it. I haven’t done anything with it because the idea of melting something so beautiful makes me ill.

The comments here are general, and things may vary by geographic area or specialty auction houses results may be better than general ones. Please remember that the words “value and valuable” are relative terms.

Art work

Watercolors are usually not that valuable

Contemporary art is valuable but difficult to price

Artwork with people and animals is more valuable


American silver-plate has lower values (think mass production)

English silver-plate has more value

Most silver value is in the metal, unless it is from a quality names like Tiffany and Georg Jensen


1% of what is out there is valuable

Hummels and Royal Doulton that are signed are valuable

Other collectibles are worth 50% less that ten years ago and 75% less than 20 years ago


World War I more valuable

World War II has some value


Have value, people are still collecting coins


Less value because than stamps because there aren’t that many collectors looking for them


First Editions and signed books in good condition have some value

Old books that are in good condition less value

People are not interested in religious or educational books


33RPM records in good condition may have some value

78s are generally not popular


Need to be saleable

Cast iron is valuable

Original boxes add value

Comic Books

Need to be in mint condition

Ones with the lower cover prices have more value


Handmade 60 years and older with silk content from Iran have the most value

Machine made less valuable


Sells for 1/3 of it’s appraised value

Signed jewelry has some value

Old watches have diminished value


Tiffany, Lalique, Herend and Royal Crown Derby are hot

Some signed art glass has value


Values are much less than new


Real bronze has value, there are a lot of knockoffs, extremely heavy is real

Mid Century Modern

High quality is valuable


An appraiser can help you select a good auction house for you to sell your high value items, it is important that you are working with reputable appraisers and auction houses. The American Society of Appraisers is a great way to get started.

I know this isn’t the best news, hopefully this information will help you look at your things a little differently and decide the best way to handle your items.