Blog by Dr. Lori

3 Mistakes Liquidating Antiques

by Dr. Lori Verderame
3 Mistakes Liquidating Antiques

When people contact my office asking for my expertise about liquidating antiques to generate some fast cash, there are a few things that should never happen. These are big mistakes and should be avoided at all costs. Why are these the most important mistakes to avoid? Because if you are trying to make money with your antiques, a big mistake will cost you your shirt.

There are some myths in the world of art and antiques and some of them are put forth so unknowing owners will give away some of their most valuable objects under the guise that those items are worthless in today's market. Let's dispel some myths. Here are three mistakes to avoid when liquidating your antiques.

1. Don't Trash It

Rocking Chairs

When downsizing or liquidating household objects, antiques, or collectibles, the easiest thing to do is to trash the unwanted stuff. Most people figure if I don't want it, no one else wants it either. Not true. Trashing your unwanted items will end up costing you money with removal fees from your garbage service. Don't just put them out by the curb.

Consider donating large items that are unwanted but still in good condition like upholstered sofas or bedding comforters, shams, and valance sets to a local charity, church, synagogue, etc. You can get a tax deduction for the donation as long as you have a receipt listing the donated items and their values. Some organizations will even pick up donated items from your home so you don't have to transport them. Don't donate anything without finding out their worth first. Many people use our quick and easy Priority Ask Dr. Lori service to get appraisals from photographs of your items. Knowing the current value of your stuff helps you decide what to keep and what to donate.

2. Don't Melt It

Don't melt down your heirloom silver flatware, sterling silver serving pieces, or other precious metal objects. It may seem like a quick way to get money out of your unwanted sterling silver pieces that you never use when entertaining but in fact you can be losing a lot of value. The scrap silver value on that set of sterling silver flatware that you never use is much less than the amount you can get if you sell it online as is. Read 3 Tips to Sell Antiques Online. For instance, a set of silver repousse flatware made in Baltimore, MD with loads of floral details sold for 3,800 dollars on the antiques market online compared to the 1,000 dollars that the owner was offered when a we buy silver type store offered to melt it down.

There is not only the value of the precious metal but there is also a value in the antique nature of the silver flatware--spoons, knives, forks, serving pieces--as well as a value in the design work of the flatware service. So, just like your silver flatware, don't melt down your antique jewelry made of gold, platinum, silver or other precious metals either. Discover the three most valuable antiques including precious metals antiques.

3. Don't Poo-Poo It

Most of us don't think our stuff is valuable mainly because it is ours. We poo-poo it because we have been living with it and it is has lost its luster in our eyes. Wait! Lots of DIYers and furniture re-purposers want to buy your sturdy, old furniture. Sometimes called Brown furniture, this early 20th Century furniture has classical styles and is made of solid hardwoods like walnut or mahogany with original hardware. Read the lies told about Brown furniture. These pieces are valuable on the resale market as active DIYers and Junkers use it to make all kinds of pieces. The furniture is well-constructed, has reusable hardware, is easy to sand, disassemble, and refinish. DIYers often use these pieces to make a vintage cool dog house/sofa table for the living room, a bookshelf from a bed's headboard for the den, or a boot bench for the laundry room. Some want to use that old mahogany chest of drawers as the main piece of furniture in their foyer after painting it with baby blue chalk paint and using it as a catch-all surface for mail, cell phones, and keys.

Many amateur designers will buy your unwanted items from you and transform it. When considering new ways to get cash for your old stuff, get an evaluation first. Know what you have, how old it is, who might want it, and what the market will pay you for it today. Don't assume it is junk just because you or your family members don't have an interest in it. Read three other antiques selling mistakes to avoid. Always get an unbiased, trusted appraisal from someone who is not a buyer, seller, or dealer. See the options I offer to help.

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