Best Ways to Save: August 2014

Best Ways to Save: August 2014

Is This Collectible Or Am I Hoarding Junk? 

Whether you’re running out of space, thinking about moving, liquidating an estate, or just needing to raise cash, it may be time to sell some of your stuff.  But how do you determine whether you’ve got a valuable collectible or something better suited for a charity rummage sale?  And once you know, what’s the best way to sell it?  What works well for some items, may not be your best bet for everything.  Here are a few things to consider:

1.  What’s selling?  As you start sorting through items to sell, find out what collectibles are selling well now. You can get a rough idea by browsing online websites like eBay or  Visit flea markets, antique malls and dealers in your area to take a look at what they are showing.

2.  What’s it worth?  You can find out what items similar to yours are selling for online at eBay.  You will need to register and set up an account, but that’s free.  Enter your item in the search and once you have pulled up a page of items click on “Show only: Sold listings.”  While this gives you an idea of the selling price of items, it’s just the beginning, because not all items get their best price online.  Look for price guide listings of items like yours.  Visit your library for Kovels Antique and Collectibles (or online at  You can hire an appraiser who specializes in your type of collection and can give you a written estimate.  Look for an appraiser accredited by the Appraisers Association of America, the American Society of Appraisers or the International Society of Appraisers.

3.  What’s the best way to sell?  How you sell depends a lot on what you have to sell and the amount of time and effort you want to spend selling it.  Items you sell online should be small enough to lift and ship cost-effectively.  In addition you need plenty of time or only have a few items for sale.  If you have rare or valuable antiques, or heavy furniture, or a household of goods to liquidate in a short period of time, you may be better off selling it at an auction.  Finding the right auction house for your items can help you get the highest price, because good auction houses frequently have established a base of dealers and collectors who frequently attend their auctions.  Interview several and ask for references.  Selling directly to a local dealer, or estate sale company will net you about 30% to 50% of what the company estimates it will go for.  Consignment shops typically take about 50% of the final price.

4.  What selling skills and time do you have?  Putting your items up for sale on eBay and other online auction houses takes time, photography and computer equipment, and tech know-how to make your items stand out from the rest.  Sellers need to photograph and write accurate descriptions, post items and monitor their auctions, answer buyer questions and then pack and ship items.  Online auction houses take a percentage of sales and have various transaction fees.  You may have expenses for listing items, even if your items don’t sell.  You can use the services of an eBay drop off store, but keep in mind, sellers tack on their commission along with the eBay fees.  If you’re more the type who enjoys a good face-to-face haggle over the price of your collectibles try setting up at a flea market or antique show.

Resources:  To learn more online visit Buying and Selling Antiques.


Sources:  “Best Ways to Sell Your Stuff,” Consumer Reports, accessed on June, 2, 2014,  "6 Things You Should Know About Collectibles," Pat Mertz Esswein, Kiplinger.