How to Find the Value of Antiques

As an antique dealer, I am frequently asked questions about how to find the value of antiques, especially for pottery and glassware. How are antiques priced? What qualities or characteristics determine antique value?

How do we price antiques and collectibles?

Our pricing on antique value depends on four factors.

  1. How much it cost the dealer to acquire the piece.

  2. Researching the antique or collectible's antique book value.

  3. What the dealer thinks the market will bear. If a piece is unusual or rare, it's usually priced as close to book value as the dealer believes they can get. The more common the piece, the lower below list price it will be.

  4. If the methods above turn up little useful information, dealers make If all else fails, we do what you would do. We guess, although we try to tell ourselves that we are making an "educated" guess.

What makes an antique or collectible valuable?

  1. Age can have an influence on the value of a piece. Sometimes the older the piece, the more value it has. However, this is not always the case. For example, Hull Pottery's early art, a line of stoneware and semi-porcelain vases and jardinières manufactured during the 1920s, is significantly less valuable today than their Continental line from the 1950s.
  2. Scarcity can factor into the selling price. The logic is that the scarcer the piece is, the more money it will command.

  3. Location can be related to scarcity. An antique or collectible may be more expensive in one region than another simply because it is harder to find.

  4. Fashion may be the largest factor that influences market pricing. While there will always be collectors who will continue to buy regardless of trends, fashion and popularity do influence the value of antiques and collectibles. For example, the shabby chic look has been pervasive for the last few years in some of the markets, forcing pieces without the look to go down and pushing the price of shabby-chic-looking pieces up.

I usually advise buyers to be aware of antique values when they collect, but to also collect what they enjoy, because the values may change over time, either up or, perhaps, down.

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