As a Personal Property Appraiser I get asked many questions about antiques. In this article I have answered 7 of the most commonlyÂ asked questions. These questions come up at almost every appraisal I have done.
How old does an item have to be to be an antique?
There is a great debate about how old an item has to be to be considered an antique. The standard is 100 or more years. There are some antique dealers out there that like to say 50 years. This is so they can sell more items as antiques and charge higher values.
Is my item valuable because it is an antique?
Just because the item is an antique does not mean it has a high value. Age is one of the many factors in determining an antique value. Here is a short list of factors that make an antique valuable:
- The age of the antique
- The condition of the antique
- Rarity of the antique
- Market demand for the antique
- Maker of the antique
- Quality of the antique
How can I tell if my antique is real?
Trying to determine the authenticity of an antique can be very hard. Most popular antiques went into reproduction as soon as they hit the market.Â Even if the item is from the correct time period it can still be a reproduction. Most of the time the term period piece is used to represent this. Research is one of the best tools you can use to determine the authenticity of an antique. If you have any uncertainty about the authenticity of an antique I would suggest finding a specialist in that field to help.
How does the condition of an item affect its value?
There are many answers to this question. Damage can have a dramatic effect on the value of an antique. If an antique is very rare, minor damage is going to have less of an effect on the value than if the same damage was on a mass produced antique that can be found rather easily. With common antiques minor damage usually has about a 25-50% effect on the value.
Where do appraisers get there information for an appraisal?
We get our information from many sources. Here are some of the resources we use:
- Comparable sales over the last 5 years
- Past auctions
- Antique retail dealers
- Antique trade magazines
- A network of appraisers and specialist
Should I cleanÂ my antique?
Cleaning an antique can cause damage. This damage may not be seen right away. Before cleaning an antique make sure you research the best method you shouldÂ use to clean your antique. The recommended way to do this is to have your antique cleaned professionally or to ask a specialist. Many cleaners today can have harsh affects on antiques. Dusting your antiques and general cleaning will help protect your antique items and their values. For more information about cleaning your antiques read my article How to Care for Antiques and Collectibles
What is the best way to sell my antique collection?
The answer to this question varies a lot depending on the situation of the sale. When selling antiques you have many options. Depending on your situation and the amount of work you want to do will determine what your best option is. Here is a list of places to sell your antiques:
- Auction houses
- Consignment with an antique store
- Private sale
- Newspaper or online ad service such as craigslist
When collecting antiques your best tool is knowledge. Doing some research can save you time and money. I hope this has answered some of the questions you may have about antiques. If you have further questions feel free to leave a comment.