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What's It Worth

 Posted by Krista Hughes on July 28, 2020 at 12:23 PM

You collected a few things over the years and are ready to “cash in”. You’re tired of holding onto a family “heirloom” that holds no emotional value. A deceased relative passed their estate to you. When I have occasion to talk with these people, the common question is “What’s the value of this; item, collection, or estate?”

You hear the random news story about somebody buying a garage sale item for $2 and finding out the value was $2,000. While that is the exception, it’s worth a little time and effort to determine what value, if any, a particular item(s) of interest might have. Here are a few suggestions.

Krista Hughes, the owner of Caring Transitions Little Rock Metro sits down to discuss the common misconceptions and expectations when selling personal items with Mike Willingham, from Willingham Diamonds formerly iPawn Arkansas.

Assess the item thoroughly. 

Try to locate maker’s marks or brand names. Document the size, condition, and age of the item.  Is there a story attached to it that might describe the history or relevance? You might have a drawer full of what you think is sterling silver, but on closer examination turns out to be silver plate. What you think as “costume jewelry” might be precious gemstones instead of glass or quartz. Turquoise, as an example, is difficult for the layperson to determine authenticity (and thus, value). According to an article by Gemrockauctions.com, 90% of Turquoise on the market is actually dyed Howlite. 


The internet has made this so much easier than ever before!

1.              Some apps, such as Google Lens, is an image-recognition mobile app that uses visual search technology to identify objects through the device’s camera.

2.              Check for online collectors’ clubs. They are a tremendous source of information, often for no cost.

3.              Look at the online selling venues such as eBay or FB Marketplace. The important thing to remember if you search these sites is to locate the “sold for” price and not the “buy now” price. There are a lot of factors in comparing pricing through these e-venues, and there is no guarantee you will have the same outcome.

Manage Expectations.

Goal:  If you choose to sell your item(s), you need to determine the most important goal. That will greatly influence the method of selling. If receiving top dollar is the goal, you would likely avoid a pawn, consignment, or resale shop, as these venues pay less than book value. Depending on the item, a collector will generally pay closer to book value (depending on condition).

Supply and Demand:  The “point/click/post” online sell sites, while popular, have created a glut in the market for household items and collectibles. What our parents’ thought were “limited” collectibles were actually mass produced. Availability of items through the online markets have caused the over-priced market for collectibles to be 'corrected' as people now have reliable and complete information on the actual scarcity of the items.

As our elders pass on; their Hummels, Lladros, collector's plates, and Kewpies, are coming to market at unprecedented rates, turning a flood into a tsunami.  What’s more, people just aren’t “collecting” as they did in the past. We appear to have experienced a cultural shift from collecting things as a form of self-fulfillment and expression, to collecting experiences in the form of traveling, photos, videos, or music.


Higher Mission:  Maybe the goal is not to sell something for the highest dollar value. Maybe there is a higher calling or desire. Donating items to charities offer several positive outcomes, including:

·               Provides a helping hand to those in need

·               Instills a spirit of generosity in our children, friends, and neighbors

·               Promotes the mission of the non-profit in tangible terms, even if you can’t volunteer time

·               Provides a tax deduction

·               Protects our environment by choosing a “green” alternative to the landfill

Whatever the reason prompting your action to “let go” of something, I hope it provides a sense of achievement or purpose.