I received an email from a reader this week, asking for help. The man who wrote has some antiques and collectibles that have been in his family for generations. He’d like to know what they’re worth and who to go to for that information.
It wasn’t that long ago that finding out the relative value of your heirlooms was a difficult process. It usually required taking your items to an appraiser or sending photos and detailed information. And it could be expensive.
For fine, rare and unusual antiques, that is still the case. You definitely need a professional’s opinion before selling or insuring. But, for most mass-produced items made some time in the last century, there’s an easier way.
Go to the crowd.
Take a look at Pinterest. See what people are talking about, linking to and pinning to their virtual pin boards. Check online auctions like eBay and vintage marketplaces like Etsy, where you can get an idea of what your collectible is worth at the moment and what such things are selling for around the world. This will give you a good idea of condition and rarity and help you gauge demand.
Ultimately, most things are worth only what someone is willing to pay. Collectibles, like fashion, are subject to popular trends. What was highly prized a few years ago, may not be sought after today.
Most of us never get that Antiques Roadshow moment, finding out the trash in the attic will make us rich. But, you never know. For every treasure there’s a treasure hunter.
Cheryl-Anne Millsap also writes about travel at Home Planet. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org