Taking a sentimental journey

Provided photoFigurines like this piece from Hummel currently are only bring pennies on the dollar versus their market value just a few years ago.

In the world of antique valuation, one of the most difficult hurdles to leap is the one between sentiment and actual value.

Whether downsizing or trying to raise some fast cash, for most of us a day will come when we decide to liquidate our collections. Those items we have purchased ourselves are usually not much of an issue. However, letting go of the things that have been handed down through the family can bring hesitation, a hesitation fired by sentiment.

If you find yourself in this situation, the first thing you need to accept is the fact that the “true” value in a family heirloom is in its importance to you, not in what the current market can accommodate. There is no dollar amount that is ever going to replace the memories of Christmas dinner served on Mom’s favorite china, or the warmth of great-grandma’s quilt that comforted you when you spent you eighth birthday sick with the flu. The memories attached to these items have given them an elevated value.

The second point to consider is that many of the things we have passed down from the family are really commonplace, mass-produced items. These collectibles were not high dollar when they were new and will, most likely, not demand high dollar now.

Due, in large part, to the popularity of TV shows like Pickers and The Antiques Roadshow, there is a widespread misconception that somewhere, lurking in a closet or the back of a drawer, there is the proverbial “pot of gold.” This point was made clear to me a few years ago when I worked as a member of the production staff for the Roadshow’s visit to Indianapolis.

The lines were forming outside the Indianapolis Convention Center when I arrived at 6 a.m. and held steady until early evening. Dozens of the nation’s top appraiser were on hand to offer a 60 second assessment of the family heirlooms brought in by the 6,500 ticket holders. At the end of the day, only 55 items were considered worthy of an “on-air” appraisal. Yet, everyone that I spoke to truly believed that they held in their hands the key to the family fortune.

All of this considered, there are some things that are holding or increasing in value. Sterling silver tableware. antique guns, vintage costume jewelry and pre-1960 toys trains are all doing well. Advertising pieces like old metal signs, mercantile and pharmaceutical collectibles are also seeing good prices.

The clients I work with often believe their parents belongings from the early part of the 1900s will bring good money. They are surprised to discover that these “antiques” are not where their household content value lies.

Many of you who may be considering downsizing were likely married in the late 1960s and early 1970s. As a result, you may have MCM (Mid-Century Modern) furniture, which is a hot commodity! Also popular from this timeframe are home decor items including wooden hostess pieces, etched or gilded tumblers from Libbey and Anchor Hocking, and bar ware from Culver, MacBeth Evans and Dorthy Thorpe.

MCM lamps and decorative art are seeing an increase in value as is art glass from Blenko, Viking, Strombergshyrran Sweden, and Kosta Boda.

In the category of vintage kitchen collectibles, small appliances, Melmac dishes, Tupperware sets and Pyrex are finding a buying audience.

On the other side of the coin, you will find that the markets for china and stemware have all but crashed and those once popular figurines from Lladro and Hummel are bringing pennies on the dollar. Other collectibles feeling the crunch of a soft market include Boyd’s Bears, Franklin Mint Collectibles, alcohol decanters and, of course, Beanie Babies and Avon bottles.

Until next time...Linda

Linda Kennett is a professional liquidation consultant specializing in downsizing for seniors and the liquidation of estates and may be reached at 317-258-7835 or lkennett@indy.rr.com.