Collectors: Do Your Heirs a Favor and Detail What You've Got
Vintage Gucci and Vuitton
Courtesy of Bonhams
The three vintage Gucci suitcases at left sold for $854 recently at Bonhams. Two Vuitton bags (at right) brought $1,159. Photos courtesy of Bonhams.
Q: A family member passed away and left a doll collection. Her husband wants to sell, and we need to know the best way to do this.
Q: I inherited about 60 Hess toy trucks, all in mint condition with their original boxes. How do I find current auction or resale values? Only info I can find is on
Q: I was recently given a large collection of vintage costume jewelry. How do I sell it? I have no clue what I have. I don't want to sell and find out later that it was worth a lot more. I feel very uneducated and don't know what to do.
A: Letters like this come in all the time. We've covered the topic before, but so many readers are overwhelmed that it is worth revisiting.
First, collectors have a responsibility to those left behind. Forgive me if you've seen this before -- and if you follow this column, you have -- but amassing is only part of the pursuit. Do your heirs a favor and keep descriptive info with updated lists of values on your objects. Include photos. Just notes will do, but make them accurate. Store the paperwork, tape or DVD and tell a family member where to find it after you go to the flea market in the sky. Then your heirs won't be as confused and frustrated as today's writers.
Smart collectors know that only research can save you from selling stupid. The more you know about what you have, the better armed you are. This takes time and effort, but any other way of unloading can lead to "what ifs" and similar recriminations.
When left holding the goods, I suggest starting at a local library. Most have informational books or price guides that cover the gamut including Hess oil toy trucks, vintage jewelry, dolls, etc. Plow through everything available to see if what you have is identical or close. Note prices listed. See if the book lists auction houses that sell the items. I'm convinced that all three writers should make progress with Step 1.
Next, look online for completed sales of similar items on
Our Hess writer says she found values on
Toys and dolls are specialty items and, depending on quality, may be best sold at dedicated auctions (toy and/or doll sales). Vintage costume jewelry can sell online, or by lots to a local dealer. So there's Step 3: Figure how best to sell.
Let the goods go only after you are absolutely convinced that you've done your best and locked in the best chance for success.
Q: I saw in your column that a cast iron Uncle Sam bank sold for a high amount. I have one, but I'm not sure if it has been repainted.
Q: I have an identical Uncle Sam bank, but mine is not chipped.
Q: Saw the mechanical bank that sold for
A: These readers may see dancing dollars, but I bring sobering news. The bank shown with a column was an Uncle Sam bank made in 1886 by the
Shepard's Uncle Sam is one of the most -- if not the most -- reproduced and copied mechanical banks in history. Copies are sold to this day for
The photographed bank brought over
AUCTION ACTION: We've said it here before: Vintage luxury luggage sells well at auction. For example, three
QUESTION: Which statements are TRUE about
a. It was made as earthenware, stoneware and artware.
b. Most stonewares are salt-glazed.
c. Most early examples were made by Moravians.
d. Cherokee and Catawba potters still use traditional methods to make pottery.
ANSWER: a. and d. are true.
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(c) 2010 Danielle Arnet