Use Internet to find value of keepsakes

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today's antiques.scott davisAs people get older, many individuals find that they’ve accumulated way too much stuff, so it’s natural at a point to want to simplify their lives by downsizing.  Also as they age, they start inheriting their parents’ and other relatives’ stuff.

The time comes in just about everyone’s life when they have to dispose of some of what they no longer need or want. Of course, much of what they decide to move along no one else wants, so the lion’s share usually winds up in the trash.  Still they are all hopeful that some other things they have kept will have some value or perhaps even be the next giant surprise on The Antiques Roadshow.  So how can they determine the real value of their items?

Back in the “old days” (about 10 years ago before widespread use of the Internet) the valuation of antiques was a mysterious process with no one really having a very broad understanding of the market at large. Items that were rare locally could be common elsewhere and vice versa.

Demand could also be different from one region to another. Price guides were almost always biased by the writers of the publications and consequently misleading. Today, however, the Internet can help to more accurately determine the value of items in a worldwide market. Neither buyers nor sellers should rely on asking prices they find online or in stores. Only actual records of what someone legitimately paid for an item should be considered, and even then the circumstances of the sale must be taken into consideration.

Multiple results are necessary to determine a value trend. Usually the highest and lowest results should be ruled out. Factors such as condition and completeness must be carefully considered.  Then there are other factors such as the circumstances under which the item was sold. Needless to say, the same item would sell for more at a swanky New York City charity auction then it would sell for in a local South Dakota estate sale.

Regardless of what you have, there is plenty of sales result information out there. If you are unable to find it yourself, find a reputable dealer or appraiser who will share his or her research with you.

Scott Davis operates Rhode Island Antiques Mall, 345 Fountain St., Pawtucket. Contact him at (401) 475-3400 or

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