Ever wonder how much your baseball card collection is worth? Do you still have your grandfather’s old plane or level? How about that antique brooch, is it worth anything?
Whether you are curious about an item’s worth, need to insure it, or you’re planning to sell it, there are many ways to find out how much an item is worth. Remember that an item’s worth is only what someone is willing to pay for it, so keep your expectations at a minimum until you determine your “must have” amount (that is, if you are indeed planning on selling the item).
Start with an online search
The benefits of searching online is that you can find out comparables fairly quickly, usually with photos attached so you can see how much an item is worth, paired with its condition. The downfall of selling an item online is that there will be many collectors specifically looking for your particular item, but whom you may possibly never meet in person. It’s a world-wide-web after all.
Do your research online and see what the item’s “lowest minimum asking price” is, and guide yourself by that as a starting point. Selling an antique online has opened up many more opportunities for research and much competition, therefore your item may not be worth as much as you were hoping to sell it for.
Ask a professional
There are professional appraisers who focus on almost every type of item: Jewelry, textiles, ceramics, furniture, paintings, and so on. We recommend contacting the International Society of Appraisers Canada (ISA) who can put you in touch with a member by specialty, or by geographical location. If you believe your item is of true high value, then a qualified ISA appraiser will ensure you don’t sell too low or pay too much for an item and that you’re not under or over-insured for the item. A professional appraiser will charge you a fee for their work, usually either by the hour or as a flat rate. Avoid working with an appraiser who charges a percentage of the item’s value. Another alternative is to ask your bank manager or an estate attorney for a referral to a professional appraiser.
Visit an antiques store
Many antique stores can often give you a verbal-approximation of what the item is worth, while some may even have a professional appraiser on staff. This can be a more inexpensive (or sometimes free) option if you think your item is more common, or you know a bit more about it and aren’t too worried about becoming a millionaire from your item. Antique store dealers are great resources, so this may be a good first option and a basis to start your inquiry.
Reach out to a collectibles dealer
Collectibles dealers and Collectors alike may be the best route to consider, for a few reasons:
They are often local, which means it may be easier for them to drive to your home (or work, or somewhere closer to you) to review and talk about your items in person.
They are experienced in various items or fields, so they can essentially provide the same information an antique store would give you, without the overhead and fees.
If they are truly not interested in your item, they will not waste your time, yet they may give you a reputable contact of someone who will be interested.
Although they may not be able to professionally appraise your items, they are often genuinely interested in collecting, and will have gathered vast knowledge to help you out in determining the true value of your items. •
“Anyone may have diamonds: An heirloom is an ornament
of quite a different kind.”
– Elizabeth Aston
Word of caution:
NEVER sell an item or promise to ship it somewhere until you have received your funds, and they have cleared your bank. NEVER send or promise payment through online money transfer companies, and always send packages as ‘registered’ – keep every single receipt and proof of purchase/sale that you can! Safety first.