How to make the past pay dividends. 
Something old to sell?
Read this. 
Many volumes are written about buying antiques.  Advice is plentiful on how to invest in the old and on what to collect.

But what about selling antiques?

How do you turn antiques into cash?

Many of us need to raise money from time to time and many of us have held onto treasures knowing that their value has been increasing over the years.  Some values are still climbing; many are leveling off and, in a few cases, have fallen considerably.  Perhaps our antiques could be put to better use?

For a quick valuation use our Valuations form.

If you have a quantity of items for sale please use our Contact form.

  • Shall we offer it privately to the friend who has always admired it?
  • Sell it to our local antique dealer?
  • Perhaps advertise it?
  • or Put it in an auction?
  • Let's look at the alternatives.

Thereby avoiding a middleman, we should realise the highest price in theory.  But we must know the market value of our antique, be able to describe its merits, meet advertising costs and have several interrupted evenings. 

If we sell directly to a friend we may need extra caution to ensure that we remain friends.

Be it horses, motor cars or stately homes, auctions are designed to get potential buyers competing against each other and if we have something of real merit this could be rewarding.  We must wait for the right sale, however, and hope that the genuine buyers are there in good numbers.

Also remember to allow for the auctioneer's commission to be deducted from the selling price and that increasingly a buyer's premium is also deducted.  The cost of transporting items to the saleroom (and bringing them back again if your lowest acceptable price is not realised) must also be considered.  Entries must be made and catalogued some time before the sale and accounts prepared afterwards, so it is likely to be several weeks between acceptance and the day the postman brings a cheque.

The quickest way of raising cash is to consult with a specialist known to you.  There may be one in your high street.

The Battlesbridge Antiques Centre is a good example of the growth of antique centres.  Battlesbridge houses no less than 80 dealers and ensures an active market where the public and the trade meet together.  Of course the dealer hopes to make a profit but the competition to buy is keen and here one finds specialists for most types of antiques.

If you have a quantity of items for sale please use our Contact form.

The one way not to sell is to someone knocking on the door.  He probably has no premises, no reputation to uphold and you probably will never see him again!

I have been asking dealers what types of antiques are most sought after today, for there are fashions here as elsewhere.  The field is very wide but if you are wondering what is most likely to attract good cash offers, here are a few suggestions.

These should be without cracks or chips unless of considerable rarity or merit when skilful repairs are acceptable.

Whole ranges of household items are included here from Georgian candlesticks to flat irons.

There is still considerable interest in old tin toys, trains, lead soldiers, dolls, dollhouses and illustrated children's books of our grandparent's days.  There have been changes in this field however. 

The great boom for Dinky Toys was in the '60's.  £1,000 invested in 1964 would today be worth over £10,000.  But if you had purchased £1,000 worth of goods ten years later your investment may not have kept pace with inflation.

Almost any well made clock dated 1910 or earlier should attract a dealer's interest especially wall and carriage clocks.  Grandfather clocks, like gold and diamonds, can suffer from the swing of the pendulum and prove that prices can fall as well as rise.  Offer your old barometers, scientific instruments and musical boxes. 

Furniture is a wide and popular field where dealers tell me we can expect good prices for desks, bureaux, bookcases, writing tables, secretairs and most living-room furniture, with mahogany and walnut most in demand.  Edwardian inlaid pieces such as china cabinets are now actively sought after and even inlaid bedroom furniture can fetch a worthwhile price.

Continues to be fashionable with a constant demand for attractive kitchen and bedroom items.  The lowly pine of the downstairs servants' quarters is now the chic decor of the modern upstairs mistress.

Dining chairs should be in sets of at least four and probably six. 

If you have eight, matching and Georgian, you could hit the jackpot. 

A wide range of tables feature in the "wanted" lists from very early refectory to oak gatelegs of the 20th century.

A healthy demand for antique firearms, armour and edged weapons with a secondary market for war souvenirs, badges and enamel.

This section has picked up considerably but remember that painting was popular pastime for the Victorians and there is a lot of it around. 

Dealers till turn down far more pictures than buy, and it is unlikely that you have an unrecognised masterpiece...  but it may be well worthwhile seeking an expert opinion. 

Startling finds still happen!

We must remember that nothing old should be thrown away without consulting a specialist - even the ephemera that was designed to be thrown away!

Some of us will be disappointed that granny's 'treasure' is not what she though it was.  Others will be smiling at offers higher than expected and cash in the pocket. 

Nothing is more immediately useful than that.

Do you have a question not answered here?

Ask us anything about antiques, reproductions, selling, buying, etc.