I just wanted to share this presentation we drafted regarding the hobby of collecting and the valuing items:
Why do people collect? If you've turned on your television in the past few years, you've surely noticed one of the many programs documenting the finding, buying, and selling of collectible items. Certain things like coins, stamps, and art have been collectible for over a hundred years while other items like toys, sports cards, and comic books have only become popular in the latter half of the 20th century. The hobby of collecting is usually inspired by older family members or the nostalgia of things from days gone by. In some unfortunate cases, collecting can be a form of psychological therapy which replaces some deeper emotional need. If nothing else, instances such as that makes for good television! In all cases, people love their treasures.
What makes an item collectible? Most collectors follow either a certain type of item such as dolls or old books, while others prefer to collect by theme such as dog or cat related items or period styles. The nature of a person's collection is often tied to disposable income. Wealthy people might collect high-end or rare items (quality over quantity) while everyday working people are content with whatever trinkets happens to catch their eye that don't blow their budget. Oftentimes, a collection can revolve around a brand name such as 'Tiffany & Co' or an event such as the American Civil War. In other instances, the media and pop culture contribute to value, making things pertaining to musicians such as Elvis Presley or The Beatles of interest. Some items that were mass produced for the sole purpose of being collected, such as decorator plates or figurines are usually not desirable at all!
What gives an item value: Individual collections can vary from mild to wild. Some people want it all while others are very selective. Many collectors dream of owning something most people don't have, so the rarer the item, the more it's worth. You've probably heard of 'supply and demand' and when it comes to collecting, the availability or intrinsic nature of a given item affects the price. Pieces made of gold like jewelry will always have a measurable value in weight if nothing else. Things that are hand-made such as art will likewise have at least some re-sale value on merit of effort.
As just noted, many contemporary items made cheaply and sold on infomercials are a dime a dozen these days. With twenty years of electronic commerce under our belts, the Internet has become a major resource for researching and appraising things. There are software tools that 'harvest' sale results from auction websites such as eBay which makes determining value a cinch! Similar sale history almost always sets the bar for price. And if that fails, there is no shortage of collector guides to fall back on. The honest answer is, something is only worth what someone will pay for it.
Understanding the economy and market: In this day and age, the world is a small place. The Internet has ruined the value for many types of items such as old newspapers & magazines. But in other instances, it has allowed for neat items to be traded all over the world, which can in fact raise the value for certain domestic items. For example, American made guitars can sell for a premium to international buyers because Americans know how to rock! Another trend we notice is that of a generational divide. Most of the Baby Boomers are done spending and are now downsizing and purging. Generation X has a more casual lifestyle and things like fine china, art glass, and heirloom furniture are among the hardest things to sell as the market is flooded with such pieces and younger families just don't want them.
Picking and grinning: In closing, you don't need to be an expert in valuing and selling things as there are professional organizations such as ours who are available for that task. For commissions ranging from 25-50%, we may very well sell an item for double what you thought it was worth! Our knowledge, presentation, and reputation all play a part in getting you a fair price for your things. We know the trends and we know the best places to match quality items with buyers who will appreciate them and all you have to do is cash the check. And if you need some motivation letting go of your collection, remember:
Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not store up for yourselves
treasures on earth, where moths and rust destroy,
and where thieves break in and steal. But store up
for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and
vermin do not destroy, and thieves do not break in
and steal. For where your treasure is, there your
heart will be also."