Antiques Roadshow

By Kristen Castillo

May 21, 2018 5 min read

TV shows like "Antiques Roadshow," "Pawn Stars" and "Storage Wars" make us all think we're surrounded by treasures that could be sold for big bucks.

Look around your house and you probably have some valuable things -- coins, baseball cards, albums, dishware, collectibles. You think the items could bring in cash, but how much? And would people buy them?

Read on for a look at how to determine worth for your prized possessions and other goods.

*Assessing Your Stuff

It can be tough to figure out the value of your items unless you know where to look.

Appraiser Helaine Fendelman of Helaine Fendelman & Associates says sellers can find similar items and then interpret prices on their own. She recommends hiring a qualified appraiser to assist.

"Price guide books may help identify items," she says, cautioning that evaluation books are often out of date since they source rates from two or three years prior.

Keep in mind the item's condition -- poor, fair, good, excellent -- will help determine the price.

Look online to find and compare list prices and see how much buyers paid for similar items. Remember that list prices are what sellers think the item is worth but not everything sells at that level. The sold price is often more reflective of an item's actual worth.

*Study the Market

Next check out flea markets and estate sales to see what's selling and for how much. Stop by a consignment shop in your area to talk to an expert with appraisal experience.

"Most auction houses provide free evaluations of auction estimates with no obligation," says Olivia Tornick of Rago Arts and Auction Center, an auction house that's been featured on "Antiques Roadshow."

Send them a few photos and descriptions of your items and ask them for their opinion on fair auction value.

Before you start selling online or in-person, have a minimum amount in mind. Many times, a dealer will ask you how much you want for an item, instead of telling you how much it can actually sell for. After all, they want to resell the collectible for a profit.

*Devaluation

Still not all things vintage are worth lots of money. Take movie posters, for example.

"I stress that people should buy for enjoyment, not investment purposes," says Ilena Di Toro, owner of JustMoviePosters.com

Collectibles ranging from Hummel figurines and Pokemon cards to Beanie Babies and Cabbage Patch dolls used to be moneymakers but are now collecting dust.

Elvis collectibles are depreciating fast, too.

"The reason is Elvis' original fans are in their 70s and 80s and they are either dying or downsizing," says Di Toro. "So, any Elvis memorabilia they have is being sold for pennies on the dollar at yard sales or on eBay."

Iconic baseball cards for players like Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle are still in demand, but other baseball cards -- including rookie cards from Darryl Strawberry, Roger Clemens and Ken Griffey Jr. -- aren't hot commodities. That's because there are so many of them in circulation.

In many cases, current owners may find more sentimental value in their stuff, rather than monetary value.

It's tough to get rich off collectibles these days, so enjoy them. And when it's time sell, keep your expectations realistic and get as much cash as you can.

*What's It Worth?

Check out these online resources to compare prices.

eBay: Use this site to check resale prices on almost anything worldwide.

Bonanza.com: This online marketplace has goods ranging from purses to jewelry to sports memorabilia and more.

Amazon.com: This is particularly good for determining resale prices of books and music.

USACoinbook.com: This is a place to buy, sell and auction American and foreign coins.

Barnebys.com: Buy and sell watches, artwork, gems and other items on this site. Get appraisal, too, for a fee.

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