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I was reading an article recently on MSNBC.com about things that “you should leave to the pros.” One of the things they talked about was the pricing of heirlooms and how most of us don’t have the slightest idea of how much something might be worth. I have seen this plenty of times when I hunt through yard sales and garage sales. In most cases, people selling and most of the time people buying have no clue what something might be worth.
Recently, we wrote an article about the new TV shows on the History Channel, American Pickers and Pawn Stars and on these shows you always see people bring in “old stuff” that they think valuable. In some cases it is and in some cases it isn’t, but the bottom line is that the people bringing it in do not have a clue. Many people incorrectly think that if it’s old, it must be valuable, and of course valuable can also be a relative term. If it is a family heirloom, it may be valuable to you, but no one else.
Valuable to someone else depends on several factors. One of the factors may be how rare the item is; were the items massed produced and are there many still on the market, or was it one of a kind? Provenance may be another important factor. Who owned it, which family did it come from, and was it part of history? Then condition of the item comes in to play. In a recent auction a Honus Wagner baseball card sold at auction for about $262,000. In 2008, a Honus Wagner baseball card sold at auction for about $791,000 and another sold for $1.62 million.
What was the difference in the Honus Wagner baseball cards? First and foremost, rarity and condition and the same would hold true for any antique or collectible, whether it be a baseball card, an antique chair or a piece of jewelry found in a trunk at grandma’s house. An old piece of jewelry may be just that, an old piece of jewelry and worth zero dollars, but then again, it may be worth thousands. So if you if you want to know if something is valuable, as the article said, leave it to the pros.
Quinn’s Auction Gallery of Falls Church Virginia will hold an antique and fine art auction on Saturday December 4, 2010. The auction begins at 11 am and features fine and decorative arts, African folk art, Chinese snuff bottles and fine American paintings and artwork.