The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Evaluating Antiques

It takes years to become an adept antiques evaluator, especially with the ability to evaluate more than one kind of antique.

If you have an item sitting around that you want to know more about, take these steps to become more knowledgeable about your item.

You won’t get a spot as an Antiques Roadshow appraiser, but this cheat sheet will at least help you recognize the quality of Grandma’s old tea set.

A vintage travel gear store in Paris (via Jorge Royan, CC)

A vintage travel gear store in Paris (via Jorge Royan, CC 3.0)

1) Research.

Get to know the item you’re evaluating. A quick Google search will turn up every imaginable kind of antique and collectible, so the chance is someone else out there is asking the same questions.

You can also go old-school and see what those things with words printed on dead trees say (what are those called? Books?) about collectibles. These are likely to be more well-researched and thorough. Make sure they have a lot of reference pictures.

If you’re willing to sort through them, shows like Antiques Roadshow will also help.

2) Evaluate it.

Some factors to consider:

– Rarity of the item. How many were originally produced? Along the same vein, how many survived? If an item is fragile and lucky to have stayed intact through the years, its value will increase significantly.

-Condition. How used is the item? Is it damaged or stained in any way, and how bad is the damage? Also be wary of repair. If it’s professionally restored, great, but an amateur attempt at repair can greatly lower a value.

-Trends. How popular is it right now? This source uses cookie jars as an example: In the 1980s cookie jars were very popular collectibles and could get high prices. But their popularity is no more, and unless they reach another trend, they won’t reach the same high prices again.

-Details. The more details and care that have gone into the item, the more valuable it likely is.

3) Seek an expert if you want to know more or are unsure of your evaluation.

Professional antiques appraisers are probably available in your area. They can give a more definite opinion on your item.

Internet appraisals are also available, but be wary. The appraiser won’t be able to handle or closely examine the object, making the appraisal less in-depth than it should be.

Never try to clean or repair an item yourself until it’s been appraised by a professional! Doing so could cut its value in half.

These are only the basics when it comes to evaluating antiques, but should be a good start. In no time you’ll know all you need to about your antique items.

3 thoughts on “The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Evaluating Antiques

  1. I totally agree when you suggested seeking an expert. Like you said, they will be able to give you an accurate opinion regarding your item. I will share this tip with my sister because she plans to trade her husband’s collection to help them financially. This is because she is now a widow since her husband has died of a severe illness a year ago.

Leave a Reply