Archive for May, 2014

Preparing for “Antiques Roadshow”

Written by traderchris on . Posted in Uncategorized

I recently had the chance to guest appraise at several local “Antiques Roadshow” type events. For anyone not familiar with it, “Antiques Roadshow” is a program on PBS where experts provide appraisals on items brought to them by people who live in or near the host city. People often wait in line for hours, hoping to gain a better understanding of their items and to find out if it has any value.

My limited firsthand experience revealed that most of the items brought to these type of events have little more than sentimental value in most instances. Unfortunately, I have not yet seen the market for Grandma’s china or depression glass to have rebounded yet, so I have to find a polite way to say that most of these types of items are not worth much. (The one exception I had encountered last year was a hand-painted Limoges plate that had originally been designed for the Rutherford Hayes White House. It later sold to a collector for over $3100!)

Another common misconception out there is that if something is old, it must be worth something. Alas, this is also incorrect in many instances. Age often lends rarity and/or provenance (ownership history) to an item, as fewer and fewer of the same items tend to survive with time. Yet, if the item is no longer collected widely (i.e. stamps) or doesn’t have historically significant provenance (i.e. old photos of unknown relatives), then the market for those items can be very poor.

So, what makes an item “Antiques Roadshow” worthy?

1. It has an interesting provenance. Anyone who collects anything almost always has at least 1-2 favorite pieces with a good story behind it – typically about how it was acquired or who had owned it previously. If you don’t have strict proof of provenance (i.e. photos of the item with the previous owner or purchase receipts showing custody), the next best thing is a signed affidavit from the current owner, attesting to the history of the item.

2. There is current demand for the item(s). Chinese antiquities are hot right now. (Most) books are not. Collecting trends come and go with time, so what may have been popular when the items were originally collected may have already peaked in value / interest. You can get a sense of what’s in demand by talking to local dealers, auctioneers, or simply typing in what you wish to research on eBay and click on the “Show Only Sold Listings” button on the left side of the browser window.

3. It hasn’t shown-up on tv before. You can actually browse an archive of items shown on any previous “Antiques Roadshow” by visiting wgbh/roadshow/archive/index.html . You can search by keyword or even by price. Assuming that longtime viewers like a bit of variety, the producers of the show probably search for things that complement other items that have been filmed in the past.


The original article can be found in the May 2014 issue of Southern Neighbor available here:


Finding the Diamond in the Rough

Written by traderchris on . Posted in Uncategorized

I’m usually so busy with consignments that I rarely get a chance to go out and look for items to buy and re-sell on my own. However, this past week, I received an e-mail from for a sale that was too good to pass up. The location was in Fearrington Village, about a 10-minute drive from my home. The items being sold were top notch, a nice mixture of antiques, luxury goods, and smaller collectibles. There were even good pictures posted with enough information for me to do some pricing research beforehand.

I woke-up early the next morning to get ready for the sale. Knowing it would be cold and that I might be waiting around for a few hours, I dressed in several layers, packed myself a little snack, and even prepared myself a travel mug full of piping hot coffee. I put a bunch of empty boxes and packing material in the car and headed off, excited about the morning’s prospects.

When I pulled into the neighborhood about 10 minutes later (and two hours before the start of the sale), imagine my surprise when I saw dozens of cars already lined-up along both sides of the street. “Oh no,” I thought, “other people know about the sale, too!”

I parked and quickly grabbed my gloves, hat, and small folding stool and headed towards the house, not realizing that I had left my mug of hot coffee in the car until it was too late. When I arrived, I felt a little more relieved, as there were only 10-15 people in front of me… or so I thought. A few minutes later, I overheard someone murmuring about “the list”.

“List?” I thought to myself. “What are they talking about?” Then I saw a yellow pad sitting on the steps with names and numbers. By the time I added my own name to the list at 7:15, there were 82 people ahead of me.

This baffled me. There were obviously not 80 people standing in front of me, so how could this have happened? I began to catch snippets of conversations from others in line. Apparently, there were seasoned estate sale stalkers that would go to great lengths to get prime positioning on “the list”. Some would come by the night before to start a list, while others may arrive at 5 am to get on the list, then sleep in their cars for a few hours. I even heard a few stories about unscrupulous attendees that had stolen or destroyed lists when others weren’t looking, just so that they could get a higher spot.

As it got closer to 8:00 aScreen Shot 2014-04-30 at 11.01.40 PMm, when numbers were to be handed out for the entry order, people started coming out of the woodwork. It was like a swarm of estate sale locusts! A number of people starting cutting in line while others simply pushed as close as possible to the entrance of “the hive”.

After watching the scene unfold a little while longer, I thought “this is ridiculous,” and decided to leave empty-handed and a bit in despair. On the drive back, I swore off going to estate sales ever again.

Of course, that promise was short lived, as curiosity got the better of me and I returned to the same house the next day, when everything remaining would be marked down.

As I expected, everything I had originally wanted was long gone. Most of what was left was either overpriced or miscellaneous chachkies. As I was getting ready to leave, I noticed that no one had touched either set of nice stereo speakers in the house. The pair of bookshelf speakers were marked down 50% to $15.00, and I managed get the matching set of floor speakers for only $30.00, after revealing that they needed some new foam inserts (which cost about $10 and 30 minutes of time for the do-it-yourselfer.) My faith in estate sales had been restored! Well, maybe not completely, but at least it was somewhat salvaged.


The original article can be found in the April 2014 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, […]