How to Explore Your Antique Attic Treasures for Profit

by Tisha Tolar on 4 November 2009 6 comments

While more people are realizing the benefits of "yard saleing" — both having and shopping at — there may be some items in your home that you'd like to unload but are not necessarily cut out for a place in a yard sale. These items, such as antiques and heirlooms, can often surprise their owners when the actual value of the piece is discovered. In some cases, families will not part with family tradition but for others, selling an antique can be a practical solution for decluttering a home and gaining financial income.

Selling an antique or an item of great value can be difficult. Oftentimes, people who do not know any better will indeed place "knick-knacks" out on the yard sale table for a mere fifty-cents, only to have them scooped up by knowing dealers, resulting in the loss of a tidy sum. Antique dealers are known to hit up yard sales first thing in the morning to pick through the wares of others and are happy to pay a few cents for something they can resell for a whole lot more. People are happy to get rid of the items at the time, but would be livid to discover they could have made a lot more money with a little bit of research.

So how do you determine what's hot and what's not? Here are a few tips to help you sort through the real junk and those items which have much more value than the sentimental kind:

Keep Reality In Check

If, for instance, you have the duty to clean out a loved one's home after they have passed away, you may go in thinking that you could make a fortune selling Grandma's old stuff. It is this excited thinking that gets people into trouble. Looking for a quick buck without doing any legwork will likely result in doing things the wrong way. Don't expect any kind of fortune so that if you should get any money for your antiques, you'll be pleasantly surprised.

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Do Your Research

Since television shows like The Antique Roadshow came on the scene, a lot more people are taking an interest in what's in the attic. It seems so simple to make a few grand on a family treasure; however, it doesn't really work that way. There are a lot of different factors involved in determining the value of something antique. For example, if your item is not in mint condition, chances are good the price will be considerably lower than one that is. Use the internet and books at the library to research the piece you think may have value. Don't rely solely on websites like eBay either. While it can be a great way to find out what is selling these days, these auctions sites will not give you a true indication of what something is really worth.

Visit an Antique Show In Person

If you have the time and interest, it can be well worth it to visit an antique show to find out what you are getting into. Bring along really good photographs of what you have and find a specialist in that particular niche to ask questions about your items and whether or not you should pursue it further.

Get an Estimate

There are likely antiques dealers working in your area. You can speak to them about estimates on items you have. You can use the estimate to further your research.

Decide the Value

There is a huge difference between an estimate and an appraisal. An estimate is essentially an educated guess by an experienced person in that field whereas an appraisal is much more in-depth and can cost you up to $150/hour. Unless you are certain that an item you have is really valuable, it is best to skip the appraisal and do your own legwork to make a fair sale.

What's In Your Attic?

There are a lot of collectibles and antiques that are very much in demand and that could bring in significant income. Just some of the popular categories include albums, toys, sports cards, books, comic books, pottery, porcelain, furniture, jewels, and coins. There are also a number of books available that are specific to identifying high-valued items which you can use to identify what is worth the pursuit of sale.

A Bonus

After all of your research and hands-on education, you might develop a new creative outlet that earns money. Who knows? You may just start a life-long hobby and make a profit from something you actually enjoy doing. It may not be easy work but it certainly can be rewarding.

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Guest's picture
June

It is really a pleasure to see someone who knows their stuff. Thanks for the insight. Infomercial Momma

Guest's picture

I dont have stuff in my attic that would sell for a dollar but i will go through my grandparent's attic and see what i can come up with. maybe something valuable like collectible stamps or coins...

Guest's picture
econobiker

Beat up toys, plastic chairs, loads of vhs tapes, cheap plates/cutlery, worn towels, etc are not going to get high dollar at a vintage sale. Sell these things at give away prices or donate them to organizations which can benefit from them.

Also, DO NOT refinish Grandmaws old dirty looking ugly furniture to make it ready "for sale". Figure out what you have before cleaning the heck out of it...

Figure on only 2 to 5% of a regular normal person's effects to be collectable at any level. If the person was an actual art or antique collector or pack rat you may have better luck.

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Guest

Antiques are a discretionary item, and sales currently are low due to the declining economy.Many professional show dealers have quit the business entirely. EBay bids are running low on all but certain fashionista items--pre-WWII authentic ad signage and thermometers, or high-quality furniture. If an item is not in near-perfect condition, or has been noticeably repaired or "restored", its value may be reduced by as much as 90%, depending on the age of the item and whether it is one-of-a-kind or mass-produced. Keep in mind that book value is achieved only in stores with a repeat clientele, and that you often will be selling to other dealers, who will want a dealer discount so they can mark up for their profit and overhead.

If you do decide to sell, target online sales for certain times--collectible tools for Father's Day, vintage kitchen items for Mother's Day, and red-hot collectibles for pre-Christmas and tax refund time. Best transient market time is the first weekend of the month, with the weekend after the 15th as a secondary market period.

Sharks do abound in these waters. Be careful and update your burglar alarms and homeowners insurance.

Guest's picture

If you are remodeling your home office or building one and don't know where to start? Then come to Gallery Furniture, where we have the latest in home office furniture, such as the Antique Office Furniture

Guest's picture
mean

Antique bookcases are usually made up of oak this tree whose wood is usually used in making furniture's or floorings. 