When it comes to the worth of heirlooms, there is one characteristic of value that I want everyone to understand: Original Condition.
We all know what the word original means: initial, first, earliest, the real thing. It means the condition of an item that has been left intact, that way the artist or creator intended it to be. No stripping, refinishing, repairs, paint, drilled holes, polishing and lacquering, etc. To a collector wanting to buy a fine item, original shows that the piece is true to the period and proves its’ age by leaving it alone over the course of time.
But everyone out there seems to believe that if mother’s tables are antique, they are definitely valuable. This is NOT the case; please forward this to anyone who is of this mindset. There are many characteristics of value, and age is only one of them. Condition is at the top of the list. Here is where it gets cloudy …
I’m called to an estate to see lovely antiques, but they are in less than stellar condition. They are covered in years of nicotine or mold/mildew, or have been exposed to years of humidity or heat. All the owner understands is that these items are old and should put considerable cash in their pocket.
What an appraiser sees is that they were not taken care of for whatever reason. The original condition has been altered and getting it back to a “sellable” condition will take a small miracle, not to mention more money than the piece is actually worth. They can still be sold and a fixer-upper buyer will want them, but at a fraction of the price people have in their heads. Then people get upset because their pieces are not selling well, or feel jilted because what they “perceived” they would sell for didn’t transpire. I know … it’s a lot to take in!
Even antiques or semi-antiques in fine condition are not necessarily valuable. Times are changing. The economy has changed the market drastically. The statistics of how many boomers and elderly we have in this country is mind-blowing. So if you are considering selling your heirlooms, look at them like an appraiser and consider all flaws before setting expectations sky-high.
© 2011 Julie Hall