Archive for July, 2013

What’s it Worth? – How to Estimate Resale Value Online

Written by traderchris on . Posted in Uncategorized

I’ve sold several thousand items on eBay by now, so I have a reasonably good idea of how the process works. However, the first step that I take with any new potential item for sale is almost always the same – I do my homework to evaluate the resale value and market for a particular item.

Many people believe in order to establish the value of their items, they simply need to go online to match-up the item, and that’s what they can expect to get when they sell it. This strategy is only partially correct – yes, you can go online to see how identical / similar items are currently priced for sale, but that does not necessarily mean that is what the items will actually sell for. Ever heard of retail price versus resale price?

When I estimate the resale value of an item, I seek out the prices for the same / similar items that have recently sold, as they serve as much better predictors as to what future items will sell for. This is particularly important step to do for rare or valuable items.

In eBay, all you have to do is change your search preferences slightly to find this info. After searching for your item, simply select the “Sold Listings” box on the left side of the webpage. If you could imagine eBay as a huge store with nearly anything for sale in the front of the store, this small change in search preferences now gives you access to the backroom of the store, where everything that has sold in the last 4-6 weeks can viewed, including prices.

After locating the sold items, next you’ll want to sort them by “Price + Shipping: highest first”, which will list the items with the highest resale value at the top of the page. This is important because it provides a baseline for comparison between items that have recently sold for the most money and your particular item. If your item happens to be in better condition or more complete than the “top” item, there’s a good chance that it may resell for more. Oftentimes though, most items fall in the mid to low range, as they have flaws.

If you can’t find what you’re trying to research on eBay, can be a great alternative, as it compiles sales data from a number of major auction houses throughout the United States. Simply sign-up for a free membership, which will allow you to browse both upcoming and live auctions, as well as sold results from past auctions.

If you still can’t find what you’re trying to research, you may need a paid subscription to a specialty website or a good reference book, of which I have many of both! Just send me an e-mail with a brief description of the item (including condition and reference marks) and I can typically find it and provide a free sales estimate with a few minutes of searching.


The original article can be found in the August 2013 issue of Southern Neighbor available here:

What’s it Worth? – Porcelain Figurines

Written by traderchris on . Posted in Uncategorized

Porcelain figurines are one of those collectible categories where quality and value can vary tremendously. Many modern figurines are mass produced and can be purchased in stores, flea markets, or thrift shops for a few dollars. Yet if you have a good eye for particular makers, that dusty Goodwill find might just be worth a lot more than what you paid for it.

P7204944 - Version 2

Whenever I evaluate a porcelain figurine for sale, one of the first things that I do is to lift it up and look at the maker’s mark on the base. Many prominent porcelain manufactures will have signed or stamped their wares,and the mark may not only tell you the production company, it can reveal age, country of origin, and perhaps the finishing artist as well.

Although are some quite valuable porcelain pieces that come from China and Japan, I tend to focus more on European and American porcelain makers, as they tend to be easier to research. If the company’s name or initials can be read on the bottom, usually a quick web search can help you learn about the company and may help you date the piece. For pieces marked only with symbols, I’ve had luck entering a basic description into Google and doing an image search. If you still can’t locate your maker, there are some excellent pictorial reference books on porcelain marks that can help identify and date your piece.

After you’ve located the maker, it’s time to find comparable items that have sold, which can help provide an idea of the value of an item.  You’ll want to be sure

to properly assess the condition of your figurine as well. Does it have any chips, cracks, or crazing (hairline cracks in the glaze)? Is it the same color and size as item that has sold? Does your piece stand alone or is it part of a set?

Hummel and Lladro figurines are regularly found for sale online, typically re-selling in the $20 to $100+ range (depending upon size, box availability, and rarity). More valuable collections may include pieces made by Herend (Hungary), Staffordshire (England), or Meissen (Germany), with pieces often selling for several hundred to a thousand dollars or more.  Generally, the larger and/or more intricate the piece, the more valuable it may be.

A few summers back, a client asked me to look at a vintage porcelain figurine set that he had inherited from a relative. He had a magnificent set of Lipizzaner horse figurines from an Austrian manufacturer, which ended-up selling from around $200 (for the one missing a foot) to over $1400 each! So next time you’re dusting Mom’s old figurines in the curio cabinet, take a few minutes to turn them over and do a little research. You main gain a better appreciation for her collection afterwards.

The original article can be found in the July 2013 issue of Southern Neighbor available here:

Latest Blog Post

Good Times and Favorite Finds – Part I

One of the best parts of my job is collecting stories, both from my consignors and the objects themselves. Here are a few of my favorites since I founded my business in 2011. When I originally started, I had no idea what to sell. I had people give me self-help books, old computers, used sneakers, […]

Estate Silver – Good Find or Goodwill?

Ever wonder if that old silver tray collecting dust on top of the refrigerator is worth something? One of the primary factors in determining the value of anything “silver” is whether it is made from sterling silver or if it is simply silver plate. Sterling silver consists of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% copper alloy, […]