Learn to buy and sell antiques and collectibles

Learning Antique Values

Les Nelson writes -
I know a woman who goes to estate sales and certain stores (with items from estate sales) who get interesting items to sell on eBay.

She can go in a store or estate sale and look at an eclectic mix of items such as statues, paintings, toys, etc. and determine if its a good deal because she knows the values of antiques. I would like to start my own collectibles business.

I would like to develop a knowledge similar to this person, in which I could go to Estate Sales, etc. and have a good idea on the value of an eclectic mix of items. This means that I would have to develop the knowledge she has from scratch.

Your book on developing a system to get a stream of people to sell their antiques and collectibles looks very interesting (as well as your book on getting into estate sales early), but both seem to take a knowledge of collectible values for granted.

Terry, how can I learn antiques and collectibles values so I can spot the good deals?


You need to start somewhere. One of my friends had a shop painting cars. He hurt his back and can't do the work anymore. He has been going to yard sales and flea markets and buying tools to sell on eBay.

He is specializing in tools because he used tools in his business and is familiar with them. He knows what tools cost new and has a experience using them.

He is also buying other items he thinks he can make a profit on. Basically he is operating on the assumption that anything he can get for almost nothing will result in a profit.

In some cases he screws up and looses a few dollars, in others he does well. Overall he is profitable. Regardless of whether makes a profit on the items or not, he learns. He adds to his knowledge base by learning what items are worth.

Remember he is not mortgaging his home to buy a large collection of items, he is buying five and ten dollar items that he assumes have higher value.

Today we think nothing of spending $4.00 for a cup of coffee. Take a risk and spend a few dollars on some inexpensive items.

Another great way to learn values is storage unit auctions. Set yourself a small amount to play with, maybe 200 dollars, and buy a few abandoned lockers. The contents of storage lockers are auctioned when the renter's don't pay.

You can buy the entire contents of a storage shed for as little as $20.00. Then sell everything you find in the shed, and roll the money over. You might get lucky and find something expensive. Even if you don't, you will surely learn a lot as you sort through the lockers looking for items of value.

When you are selling items, pay attention to what sells for what.

Get some price guides and read through them. Don't spend a lot of time on the prices, as they are not always correct. Look instead for the ranges of values.

After some exposure you will start to see patterns. By looking through price guides then comparing the items in the guides to items in antique stores, you build associations in your mind of what creates value.

Looking at the prices in stores is not a good way to learn values. You need to handle the antiques, and see what they sell for. Tag prices are not a good indicator of value.

The only way to learn antiques and collectibles values is to handle them. Become familiar with them.

A great way to get started is eBay Consignment Selling. People pay you to sell their unwanted items. I sell collections of items on eBay. I have sold everything from Autograph collections, dishes and pottery, silver, books records, sports cards and general household items.

By doing eBay consignment, people pay me to learn about the values of items. Read more about eBay consignment sales.

I will do more of these articles in the future. So sign up to my newsletter to be reminded of new articles.

Related Antique Values Articles:

Antique Price Guides

Antiques Appraisal Advice

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