Archive for July, 2014

The Power of Provenance

Written by traderchris on . Posted in Uncategorized

In simplest terms, “provenance” is defined as the origin of something. In the realm of art, antiques, or anything collectible, it’s typically an account of ownership or historical significance of a piece.

Provenance can greatly enhance the value of what may otherwise seem like an ordinary item. An old baseball bat may be an interesting collectible, but what if you were able to prove that it was used by Babe Ruth? The value would be greatly enhanced at that point.

When it comes to art, provenance is the chain of ownership from the earliest purchase or transfer of the piece to the current owner. It may include the original purchase receipt, formal appraisals, or even a sales slip from the gallery or auction house where the piece was obtained.

ARosan item doesn’t have to have been owned by someone famous to have provenance. One of the more interesting items that I sold last year was an antique blond china head doll. They aren’t particularly rare, but what set this doll apart was that it came with an 1850s era picture of the original owner with the doll and a hand written letter from her granddaughter describing both the doll and her owner. “Rosa” ended-up selling for about three times what I would normally expect to get for a similar doll, just because we were able to provide some historical context about her ownership.

Items with historical ties are often purchased by collectors of particular genres. A gentleman who purchased a dinner chime from me that originally belonged to the RMS Queen Mary told me that he also had the ensign (flag), dinner service for 12, and even an original phone booth from the ship. Being able to find one-of-a-kind pieces for unique collections often means that collectors are willing to pay a premium for these items.Chime

So what’s the best way to document the provenance of a particular item if you don’t have a receipt or series of appraisals? Photographs can serve as a good indication of provenance, particularly if the item is photographed with people or at events that can be historically traced. Additionally, an official account of ownership can be provided by a family member related to the item or the current owner of the item. This account is provided in a written affidavit that is signed and then notarized.

Do you or a family member own anything with interesting provenance? If so, please consider e-mailing your story so that it can be shared with other readers in a future issue.


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

Summertime Yard Sale Strategies

Written by traderchris on . Posted in Uncategorized

Some people think of summer as the ideal time to have BBQs, spend time outdoors, and go on vacation. My father would tell you that it’s his favorite time of year because yard sale season is well underway!

Why have a yard sale? Well, it’s an easy and cost efficient way to downsize and de-clutter all of that stuff that’s been building up for several years (or decades…) And you don’t have to drag things much farther than your garage or driveway in order to sell them. So, how to proceed?

1. Take inventory of what you want to sell. A good yard sale will have a nice variety of things and should easily fill-up your garage or driveway. If you have a few things to sell but not enough to entice people to stop, ask a few neighbors if they have items they’d like to contribute (they might even give you a cut of their profits if you offer to haul the stuff over and take care of the selling.)

2. Price appropriately. Nothing turns off people faster at a yard sale than overpriced items. You shouldn’t expect to get retail prices selling stuff on blankets in your driveway. Most items in yard sales cost a few dollars or less. And if someone asks to buy in bulk, consider giving them an even better deal (especially towards the end of the sale). If you have a lot of expensive clothing, jewelry, or other items that you need to sell, they should probably be listed at an estate sale or consignment store instead.

3. Advertise both online and locally. Craigslist is a great way to advertise your yard sale for free. It also never hurts to place a paid ad in the News and Observer online, as many people use that for sales info, too. Be sure to list the types of items for sale as well as the street address.

The evening before / morning of the sale is a good time to put out your signs. A good sign is sturdy, easy to see, has bold lettering, and lists both the address and direction of the sale (as not everyone has GPS and/or may be looking for a yard sale in the first place.)

4. Start selling early! Saturday morning at 8 am is the standard start time for most yard sales. 9 am or later start times are too late, as you’ll miss a lot of early bird buyers. If you want to get a jump on the local competition, consider starting at 7:30 am or even the day before.

5. Carry plenty of change. Yard sales are typically a cash only affair, so have plenty of small bills and change on hand.

If you have more expensive items to sell (i.e. large power tools, a john boat, or lawn equipment), consider opening a Square or Paypal Here account so that you can process credit cards on your mobile phone. The more ways that people can pay, the more likely you are to close a sale on those more valuable items.


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

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