Trash or treasure? How to find out if you have junk or a jewel
The old clock you found in your grandmother’s attic could be a fine item for your yard sale. It may yield you a few bucks. Or it could be a rare item worth thousands of dollars. How do you determine if what you have found is trash or treasure? Enlisting the help of your local antique shop is one way to find out if what you have is a real find or a real dud. They can lead you in the right direction if you do, in fact, have something of value.
Americans are looking more closely than ever at things they might have unthinkingly taken to the local thrift store or just tossed into the trash a few years ago. It takes an appraiser to know whether you’ve got a valuable treasure or a common trinket. But finding the right appraiser can be daunting. There is no licensing for appraisers so anyone can call themselves one.
With that said, never sell your antiques to the person who is appraising them. This creates an immediate conflict of interest. There is too much temptation of them ripping you off by giving you a low value. If they make you an offer, find another appraiser. Appraisers generally charge by the hour so steer clear of ones who charge a percentage of your property’s value. Never use the Internet for appraisers. A good appraiser will need to see and handle a piece to determine its true value.
Do not try to “fix” items that haven’t been appraised. If you see a scratch or the paint looks faded, resist the temptation to repair these items that haven’t been appraised. You could actually decrease the value of the item. Once an appraiser has seen your property you can decide what to do with it. Some items are best left untouched and retain more value while others require restoration in order to fetch money.
It is important to get any appraisal in writing and know what the report will include. It should state the reason the appraisal was requested, a description of the methods that were used to determine the object’s value and detailed descriptions of your property. Finally, the appraiser should give you a clear statement of the object’s worth, not an estimate.
It’s so important to ask a professional about an antique or vintage piece you find that you think may be of some value. Of course, nothing replaces the sentimental value of an item but if you found something stuffed away that you think may give you some financial gain, by all means, try and figure out what it is. When you take your find to your local antique store, the dealer should be able to give you an idea if the item is worth getting an appraisal for.