Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Online Antique Appraisal

How much is your antique Coca Cola cooler worth?  What’s the value of  your antique grandfather clock?  What are people willing to pay for your set of 1960 Topps baseball cards?

We all have something valuable, and most of us are in one of three boats.  We have never known the value of our item, we think we know the value of our item, or we’ve had our item appraised. 

“The value of an item is what people are willing to pay for it right here, right now”

This article will enlighten you on the many ways to appraise your antiques online including how to use eBay to self-appraise your items,  how to use online appraisal tools to get the experts opinion and more.

First things first…..Condition is Everything (unless you have the only existing item of its kind known to man).  Don’t assume your item is as good or better than the items you find online.  Be realistic about the condition of your antique. Not fooling yourself will only lead to better piece of mind and a more genuine sale, if you do choose to sell your antique.

How many exist?
Find out how many of your item exist.  Use eBay to see how many listings show up when you search for your item.  Use Google or other search engines to search for your product to see how many people are actively trying to sell their item.  You certainly cannot know exactly how many of your item exists, but you can get a general sense of the rarity by using common sense.  If there are 2,500 eBay listings for your item, you likely don’t have a rare item, but on the other hand if you cannot find any eBay listings or Google’s search results are slim to none, then you may possibly have a rare antique, or at least you might be the only one trying to sell it, which is not a bad thing at all.

What is the condition?
Be realistic about the condition of your antique!  A nice piece of antique pottery with a crack in it will sell for a fraction of that same uncracked item. Each antique will have its own set of characteristics that need to be evaluated. Look for water damage and fading on paper based products, cracks on pottery, glass and ceramic pieces, and finish, cracks, and wear on furniture.  This article does not go into specifics on evaluating the condition of your item, but I do want to drive home the point that condition is everything.

How large is the target buying audience?
How many people are seeking your item?  How many bids did a similar item receive on eBay?  How accessible are the target audiences for your antique? 
All these questions need to be considered when appraising an antique.  You could ry to sell your Mickey Mantle Rookie card at a yardsale for $1,000, but you’d likely never make the sale.  Why you might ask…..because your audience, right here, right now, is too small.  If you have an item that is highly sought after, don’t try to sell it at a flea market or yardsale. Instead, try talking to auction houses in your area to see if they can draw in the correct crowd.  Pairing your antique with other similar antiques will have a huge impact on bidding crowd size.  The more people that are right here, right now, that are interested in your item, the higher the bid will be…..and the higher the value will be.

“Unfortunately, the only way to know the true value of an antique is to sell it”

Online Resources
The following online resources can assist you in appraising your antique, without selling it to someone else.

eBay Complete Listings (FREE)
ebayWhen using eBay to self-appraise your antique, be sure to use the advanced search options to check the “complete listings” box.  This will show search results of items that have sold in the past as well as items currently for sale.  Your best resource is too look at the condition and selling price of the items that did sell.  Do not pay any attention at all to the overpriced items, instead take an average of the items that did sell. ($$$)
Provides appraisals for decorative arts, fine art, furniture, porcelain, silver, collectibles, vintage autos, oriental rugs, books, and manuscripts and more.  This service, while at $100 per appraisal, is a high end appraisal service, not for the average customer. This service should be used for very valuable items, insurance reasons, estate planning, and donation values.

American Society of Appraisers (ASA)
Use this service to find antique appraisers in your area by entering your zip code.  While no results are provided online, this is the best resource for finding a local appraiser.

Kovels (FREE)
kovelslogoKovels is a household name for antiquers and collectors alike.  They produce the premire annual antiques price guide.  On their site, you can search for your item to see the value.  You must create a free account to see the actual value, but you can search for free.

WorthPoint (Free/$)

WorthPoint is a brokerage type system that scours the web for related listings.  You can sign up for the free 7 day membership to get a quote on just a few items, and its easy to cancel.  Search for your item first, to see if there are any results prior to signing up for a membership.


While this list of online resources is not exhaustive by any means, it does give you some tried and trued places to start.  Happy Pickin’!


  1. Hey! Keep it up! This is a good read. I will be looking forward to visit your page again and for your other posts as well. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about antique appraisal in your area. I am glad to stop by your site and know more about antique appraisal.
    The definitions of antique allow people to make a distinction between genuine antique pieces, vintage items, and collectible objects.
    Kaminski Auctions offers specialty departments in Asian Art and Antiques, Silver, Glass and Lamps, Couture and Vintage Clothing, Photography and Modern Design . We have highly trained and knowledgable appraisers on staff that will help you determine the true value of your antiques, or entire collections. Free Appraisal days are offered every Tuesday from 10:00am-4:00pm at our 564 Cabot Street location in Beverly, Massachusetts.

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