When a person makes a decision to reduce a number of antiques and collectibles one has accumulated over the years, there are several issues to address.
As an antiques appraiser who has assisted quite a few people in addressing that issue over the years, I've seen some move comfortably through that progress and others really struggle and become quite stressed.
Choosing what goes, where it goes, when it goes and how to do it can be quite challenging. This is especially true when the owner is planning a move and he or she has developed some significant emotional attachments to some of those items.
Timing can become a critical issue. Having reasonable lead time to think things through is a valuable asset. One of the more challenging issues I've observed some families face over the years is when an elderly widow or widower is moving soon or when the individual passes away and there are severe time restraints on bringing closure to everything. Approaching the whole process with logic and common sense can save a lot of stress and strain.
If you are not under serve time restraints, taking a notebook and first writing down your primary objective for wanting to remove the items from your home or storage place can be a good first step. Once you clearly understand your motivation for wanting to make the change, it can help clear the path for choosing the most appropriate route and method to remove those items from your possession.
A few other helpful steps that are logical to take in approaching this topic include:
* Sit down with a calendar and come up with a reasonable time frame to accomplish this project.
* Identify the specific items you plan to remove from your possessions.
* Contact someone who is knowledgeable of the value of the selected items and seek their assistance in properly identifying authentic items, especially, those that have a significant dollar value in today's marketplace. Realize that good-looking reproductions and look-alikes have been actively traded in the real world for well over a hundred years. The person or people you choose to assist in this process can also help you clarify other important issues such as who you might want to pass certain items on to and what market is the most appropriate to sell your chosen items.
Some other factors that can significantly influence the realized value of various antiques and collectibles are documentation of the item's origin, the original box for the item, mint condition and original finish, items that make a complete set, or an important maker's mark or label.
A little over three years ago, I was doing a walk-through, giving verbal approximations of value for items in a house for a family near Hays as they were preparing for a sale. Noticing a small, rare maker's mark on a stoneware churn that might go unnoticed, I suggested that they picture this specific churn on the sale bill along with four key, descriptive words. They did as I requested.
The result: Their family friend in Kansas City received the sale bill and called his friend who was an advanced stoneware collector in Houston. The advanced collector in Houston told his Kansas City friend to go to the sale and buy it. The old stoneware churn, which didn't even have a lid, could have sold easily for $100 to $200. Conveying the "right information" to the right people concerning that authentic rare maker's mark made a huge difference. I sat in the back of the audience, leaned back and smiled, as it finally sold for a little over $3,200.
The room got suddenly very quiet as the auctioneer's hammer came down and I saw several people in the rows of seats around me nudge each other and ask, "What made the old churn so valuable?" You probably guessed it. The man from Kansas City bought it for the serious collector in Houston, Texas.
The reason I know it ended up is Houston is because I kept an eye on the man who bought it. About 10 minutes after the church sold he left his seat and headed across the arena to the desk of the sale clerk. I casually walked up to the buyer as he crossed the arena and made the casual remark to him, "Nice churn. Where is the churn's new home?" His reply was, "Houston, Texas."
The value of knowing what you have, how to sell it, and how to divide things fairly, can't be overemphasized!
Marvin Mann, Plainville, is an accredited member of the International Society of Appraisers. Send questions to him in care of The Hays Daily News, P.O. Box 857, Hays KS 67601.