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.

How to Start a Record Collection


Vinyl record collecting has hit an upswing in popularity in recent years. Perhaps it came with a disillusionment with mp3 files, or perhaps along with the rise of vintage and thrift shopping, but either way record collecting is now truly in vogue.

Records not only have value and the promise of a return investment, but they also provide deeper sounds that today’s mp3s, and even CDs, can’t give.

Music makers have to compress files to make mp3s, which means leaving out background layers of sound. While you might not consciously recognize the loss, comparing mp3s with vinyls back-to-back brings out a clear winner.

Convinced? Well, that’s great. But where do you start?




The Player

First things first: to put your brand-spanking-new collection to use, you need a good record player.

That doesn’t mean breaking the bank. You don’t have to spring for an uber-fancy turntable to get good sound. Crosley turntables, for instance, are portable and affordable.

The lingo can get technical when it comes to record players. Check out this source for more information.

Get to know the equipment and it will reward you right back.


The Records and How to Find Them

The really fun part, of course, is the records themselves.

Some new records come in different colors, a fun way to add a visual effect to your musical moment.

Start by buying used, not new. Used records are cheaper and have a history to them that new records can’t live up to. This is a great way to find the most classic albums.

Finding good records is like a treasure hunt. Try starting at thrift stores for the best deals. They will likely have boxes of cheap records. It’s your job to sort through those and separate the good from the bad.

Yard sales also have low-price records. Although there’s less guarantee that you will find records at a yard sale, if you luck out the records will likely be dirt cheap. And who knows – there might be a full box of records waiting for you for a measly $5.

Record stores are cropping up everywhere, which will be your best bet for finding that certain record you’ve been looking for — except, of course, for looking online.



Choose a Focus

Sure, if you want to you can just pick up any old record that strikes your fancy. But finding the right records might get easier if you choose a particular focus.

This means anything you can think of, like genres, recording labels, artists, or periods of time.  Maybe you’re really into the punk-rock scene. Or maybe you only want musicals on record from the 1950s-60s. Your taste will determine your focus.


Your Work Will Pay Off

The record is as durable as you can get when it comes to music. We’ve gone through so many types of music storage – cassettes, CDs, mp3s – but the vinyl record has stood its ground throughout the musical revolution. Chances are that years from now your record collection will be worth even more than the time and effort you put into it.