I have recently been doing quite a few appraisals. Some are court ordered, some are auction estimates and others are just for curiosity. Everyone is always happy to see me when I first arrive at their homes, unfortunately this happiness is often short lived. Why? Prices on most items have declined significantly. The "oh my goodness I can't wait to see whats its worth" changes to "you have got to be kidding".
What has happened to the antiques and collectibles market? Have the changes occurred due to the economy, is it because of changes in styles or are collectors just plain tired? Just what are they looking for?
All of these questions and no real answers. The changes in buying habits seem to be drastic and have occurred in a very short period of time. I have been at this now for over 30 years. During those 30 years I have witnessed the seemingly constant increases in the value of antiques and collectibles. Sure there were some crazy short term blasts like beanie babies and collectible plates. But for the most part these were aberrations. Most collectors witnessed an almost continuous increase in the value of their collections. Now those increases seem to be in a full reverse. Prices are down. Dealers are leaving the business at a pace faster than I have ever seen before. So if you are a dealer / investor what is the answer?
The real answer is simple BUY, BUY, BUY, BUY!!!! No, I haven't been smoking exotic tropical plants that Ohio just happens to have a growing season just long enough for. The answer is buy because for the collector, the low prices available on a wide variety of "rare" items gives unprecedented ability to purchase items that you could only dream of before.
Reverse painted Handel lamps are down 20-30%
Pedal cars down 50%
Cut glass absolutely bargain prices down 70%
Name your favorite collectible and it is most likely 1/2 the price that it used to be. Now is not the time to moan about the fact that your Hummel Chimney Sweep figurine is only worth $15.00 when you paid over $50.00 for it 5 years ago. Instead of worrying about that, why not go out and buy the Hummel Century pieces that used to cost $1500.00 and are now bringing only $500.00. Use this era of low prices to your advantage, it will not last forever.
On the other end of the scale some items are doing exceptionally well. These items are very easy to pick out because they are mostly shiny items. Gold, silver and platinum are reaching all time highs. Keep an eye out on jewelry boxes at auctions and garage sales. Stephanie (my wife) bought a 14k gold bracelet for 50 cents at a garage sale. She sold it for almost $800.
Other things that are hot right now:
Clean usable household furnishings, stay away from anything that smells, is scratched or is from a home with animals or smokers.
Automobiles that look decent and can be priced under $3000.
For everyone out there, it isn't really the best time to sell off your collections that you started 10 years ago. Prices are down. The truer reality is that it is a great time to buy. Don't be depressed. Take advantage of the current buying climate and add those rare items that you could not previously afford.