Antique Value vs. Antique Cost

The most common thing we hear in the shop is "your prices are excellent!" and it's a great compliment for us! Recently we've been getting requests to preform appraisals as a service to customers for items they are looking to sell. WE don't have the credentials to preform appraisals but when these requests come in, we've learned to listen and dig deeper on what is actually being asked. More often then not, the client doesn't need an appraisal, they are seeking is something we Like to call a "realized value."

As a vintage wholesaler, the store operates on realized values, meaning we work our margins and price things so they sell. We choose to do this because A) wholesaling has way too much inventory and B) we want pieces to move in a short time frame.

Both of these reasons have absolutely nothing to do with antique values.

Why you ask? Well, realized values are based upon a standard retail pricing system and not on the appraised value of the actual piece! As Oprah would say, a true "A-ha!" moment!

Clients seeking appraisals need to be aware that pricing your items off of a retail store or EBay listing is like pricing items off of the sale section in a retail store. It can be a risky move and you could be selling yourself short if you have longer timeframes to move a piece.


Always remember, retailers have different motivations to price and they usually are associated with the highs and lows of the selling season, inventory levels and the quality and damage of pieces on the floor.

But it let's dig even deeper to flip this topic on its head.

An apprasial is often based on different factors such as rarity and age, condition, providence of the piece, authentication and demand. There is an old saying about values that "it is worth whatever someone is willing to pay" and that holds true as the Internet becomes the doorway to selling and sourcing goods. All you need is two buyers, who really want something at the same time. A competitive market drives demand and prices up and that is a sellers dream but also the buyers worst nightmare!  Appraisals often are the mid to high price range of a piece and they usually have a shelf life of about a year in current markets. The most important factor to remember is appraisals are not influenced with the unique demands of a short resale timeline!

The big mistake we often see clients make is attempting to sell an item at an appraised price but in a short timeframe. If demand is low or you have a limited number of buyers interested, it could take decades to sell. 

That's why we move pieces at realistic price points! It's not about selling too cheap, or being under educated, it's about knowing our own timeline, margins and method of selling so it works for us.  

I also would love to refer readers to an excellent article on the topic of appraised values from the perspective of one of the most famous appraisers, Dr. Lori! Read her fantastice article here:

Next time you want to sell a piece, take this bit of information and think about it. As lovely as appraisals are, they are not always realistic and if you are looking to sell something quickly (1-4 months). Take the time time to look at compairables in all markets (online, retail, museum and book value) and find a number that works for you!