Antiques Dealer

Antiques Dealer

bluetiger

antiquesville, NY

Male, 58

I have been buying and selling antiques (and some collectibles) for over 30 yrs. started out buying and selling to help pay for college. got a degree in business admin. and worked in managerial positions for 23 yrs. but, during this 23 yr. period I kept my sanity by continuing to sell antiques in my spare time. now that I am semi-retired, I still deal in antiques - it is in my blood. I am knowledgeable in auctioning, estate sales, online sales, direct sales, and appraisals.

SubscribeGet emails when new questions are answered. Ask Me Anything!Show Bio +

Share:

Ask me anything!

Submit Your Question

37 Questions

Share:

Last Answer on July 07, 2018

Best Rated

What's the most valuable item you've ever acquired, and what's the most profit you've made on a single buy and sell?

Asked by Viv123 almost 4 years ago

even though this happened in the early 1980's, i remember it like it was yesterday.

i was at an outdoor estate auction in the middle of november. it was cold and windy and there were only about 100 people at the auction.  during the preview i was looking through a box of old picture frames when i noticed 3 signed paintings by an artist that i recognized.  the auctioneer was not very knowledgable of antiques and sold the entire box of "frames" to me at $25.00.  two days later, after a few phone calls and a short trip, (this was pre-internet era) i sold all three paintings to a collector for 35k.

not a huge amount of money by todays standards, but considered to be a good chunk of change in the 1980's.  please understand that this does not happen on a regular basis, most acquisitions yield much less profit. a few examples off the top of my head:

fruit jar bought at flea market for $5.00.  sold for 175.00

fountain pen bought at yard sale for $2.00. sold for 150.00

mouse trap bought at estate sale for $5.00. sold for 375.00

oil painting bought at auction for $8.00. sold for 750.00

fishing lure bought at auction for $35.00. sold for 1500.00

baseball bat bought at yard sale for $5.00 sold for 95.00

 

 

Do people ever try to buy back items they sold to you because they had 2nd thoughts, or maybe because they sold something when they needed the money?

Asked by First Pitch almost 4 years ago

yes, this does happen every once and a while.  if they are a regular client of mine i will try to sell the item back to them if it is still in my posession.  if the person is not a "regular" i may offer it back to them at a modest profit.

Do most private sellers approach you with a price in mind, or simply ask you how much you'll give them for something? And do you do it entirely for resale profits, or do you keep some pieces for yourself just because you like them?

Asked by Alabama almost 4 years ago

it very much depends on the reason the person is selling.  collectors who are downsizing or liquidating their collections will usually have a price in mind for their items.  there is usually very little, if any, profit for a dealer in this type of transaction.  many dealers will shy away from trying to buy from collectors for this reason.

people who are liquidating the estate of a loved one, who has passed away, will usually ask for an offer.  when i purchase the contents of an estate, i do usually keep two or three pieces that i like or think may appreciate in value down the road.

an antique dealer who keeps everything that he (she) likes will be poor indeed.

in the past decade, with the advent of the internet, more and more people are researching the items they inherit.  unfortunately, they then try to sell the item(s) to dealers at top prices and get upset when the dealer(s) will not buy.  i always tell folks who try to sell this way to contact collectors not dealers.  and, even most collectors will not pay top dollar for something unless they absolutely have to have it.

thank you for your question.

What do real antiques dealers think of "reality" shows like Antiques Roadshow? Is it a pretty fair representation of how it works, or just made-for-TV fluff?

Asked by dan79 almost 4 years ago

good question.  the road show uses some of the most knowledgable appraisers in the country and they put on a good show.  what is important to remember is that each show screens hundreds of items before they find 4 or 5 that have some real value.  also, an appraisal represents a value for a given point in time. antique values go up and down dependent on supply, demand, trends, and even geographic location.  for entertainment value, the road show has to spotlight the "high end" items that are usually appraised from a few thousand to hundreds of thousands of dollars.  most people will never own an item in this price range.  although it would be less entertaining, the show would be more realistic if it included more common items in the $20.00 to $1,000.00 range. real antiques dealers know that these are the type of items that people are most likely to have inherited or have laying around up in the attic.  although i can't speak for all antique dealers, i think that most probably are not big fans of the road show since it gives the impression that the antiques trade is an all big money business. in fact, most of the dealers i know have second jobs to supplement their income.  if i had a dollar for everytime someone called mistakingly saying, "i have the exact antique that was just on the road show" i could quit my second job.

Do I need a license of any kind to start buying and selling antiques? For now I just want to do it privately, but if it goes well, I may want to sell on eBay or open up a small store. Thanks!

Asked by Deb almost 4 years ago

 excellent question.  you may want to check with your states laws in this regard.  in new york, a license is not needed.  you do, however, need a business certificate and a new york sales tax id number.

depending on your level of expertise, starting small is advised.  eBay is a great way to get started and get maximum exposure for your items.  there is also very little overhead when selling on ebay. 

i personally do not recommend opening up a store.  a store will take up a huge amount of your time and dig deeply into your profits. (rent, utilities, taxes, supplies, insurance, advertising, are just a few of the expenses that will drive you crazy)

a better choice may be to rent space in an antiques mall or co-op.  less costly, and probably greater exposure to your items than a private store will provide you. 

 words of advice an old antiques dealer gave me when i was first starting out, "son you'll never become a millionaire in this business, but you'll have a hell of a lot of fun trying to."  good luck to you.

Does it increase a piece's value significantly when it has a "story" to go along with it, like if it was previously owned by someone famous or something, or do you always just value items based on what they are, regardless of story?

Asked by Dvais almost 4 years ago

excellent question.  a verbal story, by itself, ads nothing to the value of an item.  but, a story with proof (or provenance) often increases value significantly. 

an example would be, a nice lady tells a dealer that the gun she is trying to sell was given to her great grandfather by teddy roosevelt in appreciation for his help during a hunting trip.  nice story but no proof.

but, if the nice lady shows the dealer an engraving on the gun that says, "with warmest appreciation, teddy roosevelt" and pulls out a photo of the president giving the engraved gun to her great grandfather....now the value has probably gone up quite a bit.  gun collectors and presidential collectors will want this gun and the photo.

Are fakes and counterfeits a big problem in antiquing? How easy is it to forge a rare piece, and how do dealers avoid getting taken? Thanks!!

Asked by Canoodlius almost 4 years ago

in my opinion, the antiques market abounds in fakes and reproductions.  and, the online auction market has made it even easier for those folks who try to cheat, lie, and steal.  (things that are sold online can be seen, but nothing compares to being able to touch and thoroughly examine the item you are buying).

i cannot think of an antiques category in which i have not seen a fake or reproduction.  eveything from coins to car parts are being faked.  i have heard that you can send a real antique item (let's say a rare 1877 indian head penny) to certain individuals in china who will then make you as many fakes as you desire. a novice coin collector, or even a beginner dealer, can be fooled quite easily. 

there are antiques trade publications that try to keep up with fakes and reproductions.  there are a few online sources also.

with rare pieces, the key to not getting taken is documented provenance. (early photos, appraisal histories, proof of ownership, etc.)  major pieces are usually sold through the best auction houses (Cristies, Southebys, are examples) that have a commitment to honesty and authenticity. 

the dealers best defense against fakes and reproductions is experience and knowledge.  the hardest thing for an inexperienced dealer to do is WALK AWAY from what appears to be an incredible buying opportunity.  the antiques highway is littered with the out of business carcasses of greedy dealers who failed to learn this lesson.

If you buy an item that later turns out to be stolen, do you have to turn it over to the authorities even if there's no way you could have known it was stolen or had any reasons to be suspicious of the seller?

Asked by Canoodlius almost 4 years ago

the answer is yes. stolen items remain the rightful property of the owner providing that they can present proof of ownership. (receipt, photographs, etc.)

  antique dealers, and pawn shop operators, are occasionally offered items that just don't seem to fit properly with the persons trying to sell them.  experienced dealers can usually sniff a smelly seller out pretty quickly and will avoid a purchase.

the police will sometimes provide lists of stolen items to dealers and pawners to watch out for.  this also helps to avoid making a bad purchase.

How can you verify that someone has the authority to sell something to you? Like even if it's not STOLEN, what if a wife sells something that belongs to her husband, and then he finds out about it and wants it back? Or does that never really happen?

Asked by Truest almost 4 years ago

with many antique items there are no receipts or proofs of ownership that the seller can provide. (this is especially true of items that are inherited)  when i go on a house call to buy, i assume that the person in posession of the item(s) is the rightful owner, and that they are dealing in good faith.  if the situation doesn't feel right, i will walk away.  experience and gut instinct come in to play here.

a few years ago i did have a husband sell me some items that his wife did not want sold.  i did sell the items back to them, and these folks are now good friends and customers.  the goodwill, positive "word of mouth", and friendship are worth far more than any profit i may have made on the items in question.

 

You ever have one of those moments where you discover that something is way more valuable than you thought when you bought it? Or you find a rare painting underneath another unremarkable painting:)?

Asked by Davis almost 4 years ago

unfortunately, i remember several items (over the last 30+ years) that turned out to be way LESS valuable than i thought.

i guess that the closest example of surprise value happened several years ago.  i had made a deal with the local trash hauler owner to let me (for a price) dive into dumpsters whenever a 30yd. hauler was placed at an old house or estate.  one day i got a call from my connection that he had a hauler in his yard full of "stuff" that came out of an old house.  i hopped into the truck and went to check it out.  when i looked into the very full hauler, i could not believe what i saw. 

 five or six days earlier i had visited a man, from out of state, to make an offer for the contents of his deceased mothers estate. ( my offer was several thousand dollars.) he said that he was only in town for a few days, and that he would let me know after he thought about it a bit.  when he did not call, i figured that he had got a better offer from another dealer.  i did not think that he would place the entire contents of the house into a trash hauler!  furniture, pottery, jewelry, prints, toys, paintings, silver, etc. now belonged to me for the $100.00 bill i gave to the trash hauler guy.

  also, never found a rare painting under an overpaint.  although, i have heard that this does happen occasionally with paintings of the old european masters.

Are most of your clients women? Just wondering how true the 'women love antiquing / men hate it' stereotype is lol.

Asked by bax almost 4 years ago

the gender of a dealers clients will depend on the type of items the dealer sells.  i would estimate that over the past 30+ years about 75% of my sales have been to males. 

a dealer that i know sells vintage clothing, linens, dolls, and china.  i would bet that over 95% of her sales go to females.

i do think that, in general, most men do not like to go into antique shops.  but, they may be more likely to go to auctions, yard sales, and estate sales.  just my opinion based on observation.  i'm sure that many will disagree with me on this.

 

Advice for getting started in the business? Do you have a blog/website?

Asked by Erika almost 4 years ago

advice:  start small. don't give up your day job.  read and study every antiques book, and trade paper you can get your hands on.  utilize the internet as an information resource, and as a sales medium.  if you find someone who is a good source of merchandise, treat them like royalty and always keep your transactions confidential. word of mouth (especially in a small town) can make you or break you in this business.  make contact with local attorneys and real estate brokers - when a person passes away, the contents of the home often need to be liquidated. make yourself the "go to" person when this occurs.  turn your inventory. don't be afraid to sell.  cash flow is critical. ( say you buy a bookcase at a yard sale for $50.00.  you're sure that it should sell for $300.00 to the right person, but you're new to this game and don't know the right person.  now you can drive yourself crazy trying to find someone to buy it at top dollar, or you can sell it quickly to the furniture dealer down the road for $150.00.  now you've made a quick $100.00 profit (and a furniture dealer friend) that you can use to buy more saleable stuff with.  one caveat - never sell an item if you don't know what it is. do your homework, or you could end up selling your new furniture dealer friend a $3,000.00 bookcase for $150.00

the above are just a few thoughts off the top of my head. if you have any questions about a specific aspect of the business, please feel free to ask.

i don't have a blog or a website.  can't buy and sell if i am sitting at a computer too long.  (with the obvious exception of ebay and other auction sites)

 

Maybe it's a dumb question but have you ever been approached by someone you thought was drunk or high and trying to sell something you suspected was stolen? Or maybe that they were going to use the money to buy drugs, so you wouldn't buy it?

Asked by bighats almost 4 years ago

this does happen occasionally to antique dealers - probably more so with pawn shop operators.  to the best of my knowledge i have never bought a stolen item.  i have definitely walked away from several situations where i was suspicious of the seller. i have also passed on several opportunities where the seller just seemed too desperate to get some cash.

if a person decides to use the procedes of a sale to buy alcohol, or drugs, that is their decision and i cannot control it.  my main concern is that i am not buying a stolen item.  also, i will not buy an item if the person appears to be impaired at the time of the transaction.

Is coin-collecting still a big thing? My dad has a collection that he's really proud of (and which I think is kind of stupid.)

Asked by delclose over 3 years ago

coin collecting is as strong as ever.  I'm not sure what type of coins your dad is collecting, but higher grade gold and silver coins, bought at the right price, are solid investments (in my opinion). don't be to harsh in your judgement of your dad.   most collectors pursue their hobby as a way to relax and as something to leave their children when the time comes.  give your dad the benefit of a doubt, he just may be smarter than you think.

Can most antique appraisal be done online / remotely now? Or do you still ask sellers to bring you the item in person?

Asked by TM almost 4 years ago

most of the appraisals that i do are done to help settle estates.  an attorney will call and ask that a fair market appraisal be conducted for the contents of a home. this is uaually done for tax purposes and/or to insure that the heirs to the estate inherit items of equal value.  this is a written appraisal usually involving anywhere from a few items to hundreds of items. 

an appraisal is not an offer to buy the item.  if a seller wants to sell an item(s) i will make them a purchase offer.  if they want an appraisal, i will give them a written appraisal for a fee.  beware of anyone who appraises something and then tries to buy it.  i will not appraise an item if i am interested in buying it.

although many online photos are quite good, i personally do not like the idea of on-line appraisals.  there is no substitute for a hands-on inspection of an item. condition, condition, condition is critical in dertermining value, and photos are often not enough to make this determination.

 

 

Do you think TODAY'S stuff will one day be valuable antiques? With everything so mass produced and digitized, it seems like scarcity, condition, heritage, and all the other markings of a valuable antique will look a lot different 50 years from now.

Asked by B Loeb almost 4 years ago

i think that your instincts are absolutely spot on.

my gut feeling is that very few items made today will have significant antique value in the future.  the junk that is made in multi-million quantities in china will probably still be junk in 100 yrs. (an item becomes an antique when it reaches one hundred years in age)

i do however think that early electronic items (phones, gaming, etc.) will be of interest to collectors. also, quality items that are made in limited quantities in the united states will always have a following. (i guess a good example is, and will be, zippo lighters)

automobiles will probably also still have broad appeal to collectors - even if they are no longer used a hundred years from now.  some other potential winners off the top of my head would be: art/paintings, first edition signed books, quality musical instruments.

Do people often consider you a glorified pawn shop dealer, and is that a comparison that gets under your skin at all?

Asked by Bebe over 3 years ago

I can honestly say that I have never heard anyone compare antique dealers to pawn shop owners.  if the comparison does exist, it really would not bother me personally.  many pawn shop owners are very knowledgeable business people who provide a service to the community.  I suppose that some of the more elite dealers in the antiques community might be a bit upset by the comparison 

Is it common for TV shows or movies to loan antiques from a shop for their set design, or do they have to buy them?

Asked by takeoffer123 over 3 years ago

I've only sold items to prop men twice in 30+ yrs.  I have never been asked to loan an item to a set or stage.  I asked several other dealers if they have ever been contacted to loan an item and all of them said that they have not.    perhaps dealers on the west coast would have a very different answer to your question.

Do you buy or sell baseball cards? Are they still viewed as valuable collectibles, when I have to imagine that it's really easy to print fakes these days?

Asked by TheRealTalker over 3 years ago

I used to buy and sell sports cards quite a bit back in the 1990's -  primarily early tobacco cards and pre-1970 baseball, football, and hockey cards.  the emergence of card grading companies has greatly changed the card collecting hobby.  these companies authenticate, grade, and seal your card so that there is no doubt (supposedly) as to its condition.  these days if I run across early cards, in excellent or better condition, I will buy them.  I stay away from most cards made after 1980 when card companies went wild printing them.  the best prices are paid for high graded rookie cards.

For appraising antique appliances, how much does it matter if the thing still "works"? I'd imagine most buyers aren't looking to buy an old school cash register or radio to actually USE, right? (Or are they...)

Asked by davis.pierce over 3 years ago

most of the collectors that I know prefer an item that still works. this seems to be especially true in regard to radios, fans, early calculators, blenders, and clocks.  even if collectors don't actually use the item, they still prefer that the item works so that they may show off its function. 

I love going to yard sales, what kind of items do you think I should look for that have value that's often overlooked by yard sellers?

Asked by Ellen over 3 years ago

very few items are overlooked these days. however, a few items that I have found at yard sales that many people overlook are:  1950'S/60's era plastic toys and toy soldiers, pre-1990 cereal box premiums, typewriters, unused gym shoes from the 1960's thru the 1980's, sets of American made Revereware cookware.

Giving my parents credit for being smarter than I'd thought is a lesson I'm only beginning to learn:) Follow-up: Is the value of coins derived mostly from their value as COLLECTIBLES, or because they can actually be melted down for their base metal?

Asked by delclose over 3 years ago

gold and silver coins basically have two values as you indicate in your question. ( the numismatic value and the bullion value.)  a common 1921 silver dollar, in circulated condition, may be worth more as scrap depending on the spot silver price on any given day.   a rarer date silver dollar in circulated condition however may have a numismatic value that exceeds its scrap value.  the key factors in determining value of gold and silver coins are: scarcity, condition, and spot bullion value of the precious metal in question.  in my opinion, most people start to accumulate coins for their collectible value.  but then, when the price of gold and silver go up dramatically, many collectors will sell their common and poor condition coins for their scrap value.  this is why, when gold and silver prices are high, you see all the "we buy your silver and gold" folks come out of the woodwork.   

As a pure investment, which collectibles are most likely to increase in value?

Asked by vizion over 3 years ago

tough question.  people who bought large quantities of star wars items, back in the 70's and early 80's, and stored them away (without opening the packaging) are now making a very tidy profit.  in my opinion, first edition character items are as good a bet as anything else for the long term - 20 to 30 years.  I have never had a good, quality character item that I could not sell.  as an example, I recently bought a large quantity of older smurfs at a yard sale.  a couple of my dealer friends thought I was nuts - the Japanese collector that I sold them to paid me 500 times more than I purchased them for.

How do you approach the best buyer for your antiques?

Asked by Paul Hinton over 3 years ago

depends on the item I am trying to sell.  if there is someone locally that I think may be interested in what I have, I will give them a call or text.  if it is an item with universal appeal, I will probably use an online auction site to sell it.  if it is a fairly generic item (say an old stoneware mixing bowl) i'll probably place it in a booth at an antiques mall, or run it through an auction house with other common items. 

I have a ann hathaway cottage brass covered wooden box with images of the cottage and shakespear on them would like to know more about it

Asked by Dexter about 3 years ago

sorry about taking so long to get to this - busy time of the year.  I believe that these were made in the 1970's or 80's.  probably used as fire place boxes.  not considered antiques in the true sense of the word.  I'm pretty confident that value is probably well below $100.00. 

I recently retired from the oil & gas industry and would like to start my 2nd career as an antique merchant. I'd like to stay within the triangle of Houston-San Antonio-Victoria in Texas. Any suggestions as to where a store would have the best chance

Asked by Barcrit over 2 years ago

I advise newcomers to the business to start out small.  before opening a shop, it may be wise to set up in an antiques mall or co-op.  I'm sure that there are some good ones in your area. 

I have antique plates trimmed in gold American Indian Head plates would like to know where can I sell them or what

Asked by Ernest almost 2 years ago

You may want to take them to your local antiques mall or antique shop and see if you get any offers. 

Hello, I have recently acquired a 1940s E.S Lowe Mystery Talking Board (Ouija Board) along with the original box both in good condition, I'm in the process of locating the planchette. Ultimately i was curious what something like this would be worth?

Asked by Devon Richart almost 3 years ago

I sold one of these( mint in the box) a couple years ago for $55.00. 

1901Christmas ormnants trying to Find what the value of these

Asked by Elizabeth almost 2 years ago

There are a few ways to determine if your ornaments have some value.  Check the online auction sites. these sites will give you an idea of the fair market value of your items.  there are also several good reference books about antique ornaments.  if you are looking to sell them quickly, take them to your nearest antiques mall or co-op.  the dealers there will be happy to make you an offer if they are of interest. keep in mind that condition, condition, condition is critical to the value of antiques and collectibles.

I have a record/8track/radio player,,how much is it worth??

Asked by Michelle over 2 years ago

sorry, I do not do appraisals online.  however, there are numerous collectors who collect 8 track tapes and players.   I have sold several players in the 20.00 to 75.00 range.

I have been looking for someone to appraise and buy my antiques but it hasn't been easy finding someone. Can someone help?????

Asked by Tyanna almost 2 years ago

Google Antique appraisers for your area and you should be able to find an appraiser. if you are looking to sell them - go to your nearest antiques mall or shop and see if anyone is interested in your items.

I have an old doll I'm trying to find out info on and when it's possibly value

Asked by Jeremy over 1 year ago

you may want to check out dollprice.com or one of the many free doll price guides online.

My Aunt died recently and she had an ivory jewelry box. Is it legal to pass it on to the person she request should receive it?

Asked by Lori about 1 year ago

Although a total ban on African elephant ivory went into effect in 2016, it is permissible to donate or bequeath OLD ivory without breaking the law.  It is advisable to have some provenance, if possible, to prove that the ivory is in fact antique and not contemporary.  The attorney handling your aunts estate is probably aware of the ivory laws and will handle the will of the box in accordance with the law.

I have acquired a sewing machine singer brand w/treadle according to serial # made around 1886 this info was from singer customer service dept it is taking up lots of room and I was wonderding if it was worth keeping /

Asked by robin.bess@yahoo.com 7 months ago

I would say that it is worth keeping if you have a use for it.  if not, there are numerous collectors ofSinger machines and parts. In excellent condition, the drawers, handles, iron base, and other components of the machine are probably worth around $200-300.  my personal experience is that it is easier to sell the parts than the entire machine.

What is a copy of Stan Laurel original birth certificate worth today?

Asked by Stephen 4 months ago

My opinion is that a copy of Laurels birth certificate has minimal value.  however, an authenticated  autograph/signature of Stan on a copy of his b/c would probably be worth around $200.00. (Stan died in 1965 at the age of 74.) 

I have a chinnese vas antiques, belong to my great great grand father which is related to china. I want to know which dynasty is and where it come from... Can you please help me . My father said it is valuable.. +6281268305285 whassap me for picts

Asked by Alex Sousa about 1 month ago

Chinese antiques are a highly specialized field. I am definitely not an expert in this field.  there are auction houses that specialize in oriental antiques.  I would advise sending photos to two or threeof these houses to get their opinions.  A google search for "oriental auctions" should give you a good start.  best of luck in your quest.

Are Antique gas pumps that have been completely re-stored worth any value, even if the are now for show only?

Asked by David Stevens 12 days ago

Sure.  restored pumps are used by theme restaurants, and other businesses quite a bit.  obviously, the original, unrestored, pumps are worth much more than those with reproductionparts and modern paint jobs.  there are buyers for both restored and unrestored pumps. as always,the price of unrestored pumps depends on condition, condition, condition, and rarity of brand and style.