The Real Value of Our Antiques and Heirlooms

We each have items in our homes that came from a loved one, passed down through the years.  To us, these items are special, unique, and valuable.  Sometimes, these items are even more special, unique, and valuable because of our feelings towards the loved one who gave it to us.

If you can, place those feelings to the side for a moment.  We really need to have a fresh understanding about the market, the economy, and what our heirlooms are really worth.  As an appraiser, I come to the table as an objective third party who has the ability to look at items through new, yet somewhat critical eyes, much like a detective.

I see flaws others may not.

I see condition issues others may not.

I see that someone drilled a hole through the bottom of a Ming Dynasty vase because they wanted it to be a lamp (ugh!).

I see that someone uses 21st century screws to reinforce an 18th century piece.

However, there is more to it than that; we must dig a little deeper to get to the crux of the matter.

The truth is that in today’s market, a c.1830s bird’s eye maple English chest will sell for far less than a “Made in China” piece you can buy at Rooms to Go or IKEA.  I saw it with my own eyes at an auction recently.  The gorgeous English chest sold for $100 and the black lacquer Oriental chest made 30 days ago sold for $350.

WHY?

Gone are the days of truly caring about quality.

dark traditional ornate bedroom

Gone are the days of the younger generations wanting traditional furnishings.

In are the days of how the item looks and functions.  Maybe not for all of us.  This trend is picking up speed and we see more of it as each day passes.  Size and space also enter into the equation, since we are in the middle of a major simplification trend.  Both our homes and our furnishings are getting smaller.

I address the older generations when I say this and I hope it will be realized:

Dark brown furniture gives the younger generation the willies just to look at it.

dark heavy china cabinet

Boomers don’t want any more of it, and are trying to downsize and let go of the dark heavy furnishings, as we speak!  Being surrounded by heavy, large, dark furniture is not what people want today, let alone my daughter’s generation.  She doesn’t want it now and she will not want it later.  It won’t pay to pressure her or store items for her.

It doesn’t matter how old it is.

It doesn’t matter what you paid for it.

It doesn’t mean anything to a stranger or the public who come to purchase it.

If we don’t want it and our children don’t want it, others will not want it either.

dark heavy dining room

Of course there are exceptions to every rule and all families are different.  But if we dare to peek into the future, what will become of the older, dark furnishings in 2 years? 5 years? 15 years?

Those of us in the industry have seen a steady decline since 2008 so it is no surprise to us.  It’s alright that not everyone will accept what we have to say, but at least, listen to the market.  It has spoken loud and clear!

©2016 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com

Advertisements
Published in: on May 6, 2016 at 10:20 am  Comments (5)  
Tags: , , ,

A New Take on “Taking”

Tips for Letting Go When Handling an Estate

There’s nothing simple or easy about letting go, especially when you are handling the estate of a loved one.  People have the tendency to keep too much from the estate.  They often find comfort in the things and the memories attached to them.

Being able to let go:

  • brings closure and peace of mind
  • minimizes family and marital strife
  • prevents future worries when your children are burdened with the same stuff
  • help avoid storage costs
  • prevents cluttering your own home

When you keep too much:

  • You realize you no longer need what you kept.
  • Your own home becomes overwhelmed with stuff.
  • Storage costs far outweigh the value of what is stored.
  • Your kids and grandkids don’t want what you selected to keep for them.
  • You may experience guilt. “Mom would be so upset if I sold that.” or “Mom said it was valuable so I should keep it.”  Escort guilt to the door.  Life is hard enough without the burden of needless guilt.

What do YOU want?

It’s perfectly acceptable to let go of possessions, especially if you don’t absolutely cherish them.  If no one in the family wants the items, have an estate sale professional sell to those who will cherish them like mom and dad did.  Unfortunately, families rarely get to see how happy new buyers are when they find these items.  I’d much rather have someone who can appreciate the items, than to keep them stuffed in boxes taking up space in my home … unappreciated.

TIPS

  1. Don’t keep items just because.  Ask yourself if you really need it and have a purpose for it.
  2. Record a video of the estate as it was when your loved one lived there.
  3. Photographs are a great idea to preserve the memories without hanging on to the stuff.
  4. Give to those less fortunate.  Maybe your loved one had a favorite charity.  Even if you have an estate sale, arrange for the estate sale professional to donate the items that do not sell.
  5. Be honest and realistic.  Will you really use this item?  Why are you keeping it?
  6. Set healthy boundaries and realize that space is a limiting factor.
  7. If the estate needs to pay off debt, take as little as possible, so the remainder can be sold by a professional and proceeds applied to the debt.

©2015 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

Condition, Condition, Condition

When it comes to the worth of heirlooms and antiques, one characteristic of value needs to be understood and it’s not how old the item is.  It’s condition.  Original condition!

We all know what the word original means: initial, first, earliest, the real thing.  It means the appearance of an item has been left intact, the way the artist or creator intended it to be in its original state.  No stripping, refinishing, repairing, painting, gluing, drilling holes, polishing, lacquering, etc.

Original to a collector wanting to buy a fine item means they prefer it this way.  The mellowing of leather or wood that only the passage of time can accomplish to near perfection, which also demonstrates the piece is true to the period, blemishes included.  These blemishes are part of the item’s history.  If it could talk, the stories it could tell!

Many seem to be of the mindset that if mother’s tables are antique, they are definitely valuable.  This is simply NOT the case; please pass the word along!  Age is only one characteristic of value.  While it certainly can be a contributing factor of value, many other factors are also evaluated when a professional assigns value.  Condition is right up there at the top of the list.

I’m called to an estate to see mom’s antiques, but they are in poor or fair condition.  They could be covered in years of nicotine, mold/mildew, or have been continually exposed to humidity or cold.  Maybe someone painted the primitive table sage green, or cut down the legs of the dining table to make a nice coffee table.  All the owner understands is that these items are old and should put considerable cash in their pocket.

An appraiser sees these items are not in good condition, or the original condition has been altered permanently.  Getting it back to a “sellable” condition will take a small miracle, not to mention more money than the piece may actually be worth.  These pieces can still be sold and a fixer-upper may want them, but at a fraction of the price people have in their minds.  The owner of the pieces gets upset because the pieces are not selling for what they perceived they would sell for.  I know … it’s a lot to take in!

If you are downsizing or selling the contents of an estate, look at the items from the perspective of an appraiser or personal property expert.  Consider all the flaws and permanent alterations to pieces before setting expectations too high.  Otherwise, you might be quite disappointed.

©2015 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

Published in: on September 15, 2015 at 11:32 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

What Factors Affect Value?

add_value1

We want to believe that our possessions have exquisite value and will bring much money one day when we are ready to sell.  We are disappointed to learn that the heirlooms of mom and grandmother are not worth much anymore, despite the family lore.  What can affect the current value of personal property?

  • The Economy

If the economy is soft, the values for most personal possessions on the secondary market are going to suffer, like everything else.  Today’s trends are all about simplification, so the market is flooding with traditional household furnishings from our homes and our parents’ homes

  • Market trends

Are the items currently sought after and desirable to have at this time, or are they just good, usable items?

  • Value

What is something really worth?  Not what you paid for it, and not the value on an old appraisal report.  Ultimately, it is worth what someone is willing to give you for it.  Here’s where it helps to have a professional who can research your items and guide you towards achieving maximum proceeds.  Searching the internet for “values” only produces asking prices, not genuine sales comparables, not what the items actually sold for.  Professionals know how to search for your items and what they are currently selling for.

  • Popularity and Style

An item may be attractive, but it might not have much value.  On the other hand, the most unsuspecting, and often unattractive, items may have more value than you know.  Much has changed in the marketplace; people have changed and values have changed, along with what’s hot and what’s not.

  • Changing lifestyles

Traditional, dark “brown furniture” (as it’s called in the industry) does not have the appeal it did for our parents or grandparents.  It may be in good condition, but children and grandchildren don’t like the dark brown.  They are buying these pieces inexpensively to paint, because the market is saturated with these pieces.

  • Generational differences

Grandmother’s cherished floral china from the Depression era is completely different from what a 22-year old woman wants today.  Generation X and Y want a simple, clean, European look for their homes and no clutter or knick-knacks.  They shop at places like IKEA and Pottery Barn.  The Boomer is caught somewhere in the middle, still somewhat traditional, not as much as their parents and not as indifferent as their children.

  • Junk or something more?

Proper identification is the key.  The television shows would have you believe there is treasure in every home or estate.  While you may find interesting collectibles, not every home contains a treasure of significant monetary value.  Yet, you just never know what you could have in your possession.

  • Law of supply and demand

This law is always in effect, for everything.  Too much supply and not enough demand causes the prices to fall, such as all our older loved ones’ glassware, porcelain, and collectibles.  They are in abundance in every household, but few truly want them in 2015.  On the flip side, anything in demand but in small supply will usually sell higher, because it’s desired and not readily available.  The internet makes the world very small.  What used to be rare and hard to find is now in abundance on all major online auction sites.  Suddenly, there are 1,956 figurines just like mom’s.

We have little control over most of these factors, but that’s why items are no longer commanding what they used to.

Two recommendations from the expert:

  1. Keep your expectations reasonable.
  2. Hire a professional to advise you on values.

©2015 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

Our Addiction to Acquisition

The world seems to be much smaller than it used to be; the same is true of our living space.  I think we humans have a problem with buying and collecting too much.  Two questions baffle me, even after all these years of handling estates:

Why do we collect so much stuff?

What possesses us to continually buy things we don’t need, don’t use, and eventually become a monkey on our backs or a burden to loved ones?

In order to understand, we must go back into our long-ago and far-away to understand our ancient ancestors.  My very unscientific and unproven theory is that, as far back as caveman days, we were hardwired to hunt and gather.  Fast forward to the 21st century.  We don’t have to hunt any longer and it requires no effort or discipline to acquire things.  We’ve become extremely proficient at gathering too.

People have truly become anchored by spending and acquiring stuff.  For some, they become emotionally paralyzed in trying to let go of stuff.  Stuff weighs people down, as I see so often in my work.

Now we have so much stuff, many people are about out of money or in great debt.  When they sell some of what they acquired, they get upset when they can only regain a fraction of what they paid.  As we let go of some stuff (that on some level we equate with success), we go through a very real fear that we won’t be able to replace it one day.  What was once a comfort is now headed out the door.

To some people, acquiring things is a hobby.  For others, it is an obsession.  Yet our lifestyles are so different today; many are downsizing because they don’t want their possessions holding them back.

Here’s a history lesson on the acquisition of and attitude towards stuff:

We know the Depression Era folks rarely thew anything away.  This behavior is ingrained in them to never go without again, having survived such challenging times.  This generation has a tendency to go overboard on “stocking up,” a fear based response.  This is also a psychological decision which brings comfort, since everything is close if they need it.  As a sign of success, they are proud of their possessions, because during the Depression, they did without them.

This may explain why they keep leather straps, old shoelaces, myriad Cool Whip containers, mayonnaise jars, aluminum pie tins, pantyhose, pencil nibs, and enough rubber bands to stretch around the neighborhood.  They also collect canned foods because “you never know when you are going to need them.”

The older Boomers are so traditional and as loyal as their parents; they generally have a difficult time letting go of stuff.  They may feel a profound sadness in letting go of previous generations’ things, even as they realize the younger generation no longer wants these things.  They are in the middle of making tough decisions to keep or sell these items.

This generation is responsible for keeping storage companies in business.  But they don’t realize the items in storage lack the value of what they are paying for the storage costs.  They live with high hopes that their children will change their minds and keep these things, and even higher hopes that their grandchildren will want them.  If I was a betting woman, I would say, “NO, they will not change their minds.”

The younger boomers are still somewhat traditional, but generally do not feel the pressure to hold on to these things.  This generation can let go much easier.

Enter the young generations X and Y.  I can’t say much that would surprise you.  They have little sentimentality.  They seem to not have a desire for things of any kind, except what you can buy in IKEA.  This generation would never understand the concept of keeping furniture for decades, or covering every table surface with trinkets.  Theirs is a much simpler world.

They acquire virtually.

We acquire physically.

Do you see the huge division of thoughts, beliefs, and emotions causing problems in the market?  We have too much supply and not enough demand from the younger generations.

What do you think will become of our antiques and collectibles with the passage of time?

©2014 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

What Fair Market Value is NOT

As an appraiser, I have to understand the definition of Fair Market Value (FMV). As confusing as FMV can sometimes be for the professional, I can imagine how convoluted it must be for the lay person.

Under the United States Treasury regulation 1.170-1(c), Fair Market Value is defined as:

The price at which the property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, neither being under the compulsion to buy or compulsion to sell and both having reasonable knowledge of relevant facts.

That definition simplified everything, didn’t it? I think not.

For someone who does not understand that definition and all that it implies, it can be left up to their own imaginations to fill in the blanks and specifics, which can be a very bad thing. The person who does not understand will conjure up crazy, inflated “values” that are not values at all; they are merely asking prices they found online. This is NOT Fair Market Value.

If you are at an estate sale and you and the seller exchange $20 for an item, and neither of you are being forced into this exchange, that $20 is the FMV for that day and moment. If both you and the seller have all the basic facts, the item is a flat screen TV that works and you agree on a price, and you are not being forced to buy or sell, it was a mutually agreeable transaction. This is Fair Market Value.

Let’s talk about other things that are NOT Fair Market Value:

  • It is not what you paid for an item (most people pay high retail and not FMV).
  • It is not wishful thinking. True values are arrived at with careful research and methodology.
  • It is not family lore. We know the stories of how “valuable” mom always said an item was, but that is not fair market value. Many of our older moms may not understand how very different things are today, or why younger women have little interest in their prized possessions.
  • It is not outdated appraisal values that were probably written for insurance purposes or in a much healthier market.
  • It is not what you think it should be, nor the amount of money needed to pay bills.
  • It is not the asking price you see on a similar item on the internet or Ebay. Asking prices are just asking prices. We’re interested in what it actually SOLD FOR.
  • It is not based on sentimentality (how much you, or a loved one, cherished it).
  • It is not about how old it is or how long you’ve had it.  “Old” doesn’t necessarily mean it has value.

Everybody seems to have their own idea of fair market value, but very few I hear about are actually “fair.” At the end of the day, the market is what it is. All we can do is our very best to educate our clients, even if they don’t want to hear what we have to say.

Bottom line: An item is worth what someone will give you for it. Always enlist the help of a professional to guide you through, when you don’t have the answers.

©2014 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

Beware of Snowballing Family Lore

I would be a rich woman if I had a dollar for every time I heard a family member tell the story of an heirloom in which the story gets bigger and better with every telling.  It’s like the old parable, “The fish that got away was THIS big …” and every time the story is told the fish miraculously gets bigger.

As estate professionals, we have the same challenge when discussing and valuating family heirlooms and other treasured items.  I visit clients in their homes and enjoy each of them as I listen to their stories.  However, I know what the values really are, regardless of the verbal family stories.

The hard part for me, and for the client, is providing proof that the following really happened:

  • “Did you know Abraham Lincoln sat in that chair?”
  • This belt buckle once belonged to Robert E. Lee.”
  • Our grandmother told us Teddy Roosevelt took a picture with daddy, but we don’t know where that picture is.”

We know what these items are worth on a monetary level, but you can’t place a value on sentimentality.  Sentimentality is priceless.  Sentimental items are what we mostly find.

Could some of these family stories actually be true?  Who’s to say.  Perhaps they are.  But without provenance, or history of the piece, it leaves a question mark and it’s impossible to valuate.  The needed proof would be, for example, a photo of Abraham Lincoln really sitting in that chair with the original upholstery, or a document that proves it was at a historic event or with a person of distinction.  Without proof, we can only appraise what we see based on the characteristics or its aesthetic value.  It then becomes just an “old chair.”

I look back into my experiences with all kinds of families and wonder why most people seem to exaggerate about possessions.  Here’s what I came up with:

  • It’s their version of the truth as they see it.
  • To make the item more “valuable”
  • To accentuate the positive.
  • To make the mundane more exciting
  • To give their heirs a legacy they believe is valuable

Maybe Abraham Lincoln did sit in that chair.  Or maybe he sat in one just like it, and that’s how the story got started.  Someone heard what they wanted to hear and generations of tongues did the rest.  It happens in every family.  Remember too, that people hear what they want to hear.

The bottom line is that we professionals don’t want our clients to be disappointed when they go sell these items and the prices brought don’t match the stories behind the pieces.  Very often, this is the case.  Setting your expectations in neutral before the estate process gets started means we all are one step ahead.

Research professionals before you hire them, but then listen to them with an open mind.  We know the items in the majority of our estates, and if we don’t, we can research them.  Have faith that we handle these possessions every day and can advise you correctly and honestly.

©2014 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

Where, O Where, Have All the Experts Gone?

Experts in antique books, stamps, silversmith, woven rugs, Persian rugs, clocks, estate jewelry, advertising, coins, etc. are getting harder to find for several reasons:

  1. They have died.
  2. They are up in years and no longer practice.
  3. They have gone out of business due to lack of interest and sales.
  4. The younger generations aren’t interested in learning the craft of their elders.

Now we are left with a shortage of rich-with-experience “old-timers” in these specialty areas.

  • How will we be able to identify historic items and other pieces of significance after they are gone?
  • How will we ever know the stories behind such items?
  • Without these elders and their expertise, what will we have to teach our children and grandchildren?

This wealth of information has fallen on the deaf ears of the younger generations; now they have no trade to fall back on in life.  It’s really sad, but it’s their decision to make.

I was in Arizona a couple of years back and talked with some of the Native Americans.  They instantly saw how I lit up holding their silver jewelry, wondering how they achieved a certain shape, scroll, or color.  This conversation led to another, when I asked the elder silversmith if he had taught his son and grandson his wonderful skills.

Silver_Buckles

“Neither wanted to learn,” he said.  “Now they have their fancy phones and games, but they have no way to make a living.  They don’t know much.”

Spotting a weaver, I went over and talked with her as well.  You’d be amazed how well a huge smile opens doors.  Hers was the same story.  All of these middle-aged and older people learned their skills from their parents and grandparents, but very few of their children were interested.

As someone who loves the estate industry, you could say that I study the possessions of those already passed.  I wonder how appraisers in the future will be able to do their job, as experts die off.

This Estate Lady is collecting unusual books about all of the topics I mentioned at the top.  At the rate everything is being read online, the real books containing rare information will be considered trash one day.  I can see some of these books being dumped.

I know what is inside those books is more valuable than the things I appraise.  They contain knowledge, and you can’t put a price on that!

©2014 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.

Published in: on September 4, 2014 at 9:45 am  Comments (3)  
Tags: , ,

The Downside of Online Auction Sites

Aside from the ever-increasing fees that have hurt the “little guy” trying to make a decent living or extra income, there is nothing wrong with online auction sites.  In fact, they have opened our eyes to a whole new world we never knew existed just a few short years ago.  We can easily shop globally from the confines of our desk to find comparable items, best prices, and unique finds.  Our online reach can take us anywhere.  That’s the good news.

Anyone can post anything online, often without knowing what the gismo is, what it’s called, with little accountability for errors or condition issues, and certainly without understanding the values.  That’s the bad news.

From the perspective of an appraiser, online auctions bring income to millions who ordinarily would not have that income, but there are pros and cons to consider.

Back in the day before these sites, an item could legitimately be called “rare and unusual” and might sell for $1,000.  Today when you search for the same item online, suddenly there are 2,193 of them across the world, ranging in price from $5.99 to $5,000.

You are witnessing the flooding of the market.  In addition, prices that are either too low or too high are hurting the market.

Because we are all connected online now, there is very little rarity, not many surprise “finds,” and no uniformity, as prices are all over the board.  It is up to the buyer to beware and purchase carefully.

With so many of the same or similar gismos being listed, we must:

  1. Give thought to what that has done to values (and it isn’t good).
  2. Recognize that as elderly collectors pass away and someone attempts to sell the entire collection online (or even at a local auction house), they will inadvertently be flooding the market.  When selling a large collection, a handful of hard-to-find pieces will sell well, but the remainder will sell far lower than expected.

Too much of the same/similar items being dumped on the market and listed online (supply), and not enough people to buy them (demand), drives prices and values downward.

Are we shooting ourselves in the foot?  Yes, but we’re in too deep to make any serious changes now.  We’ve become accustomed to the lure of sales and discounts.

With online auction fees climbing, one has to ask if it is actually worth it, between the soft economy and the fees that eat your profit.  Yet, to many people, it is a source of income they need, to make ends meet.  A Catch-22 situation, indeed.

Other challenges with online auctions are:

  • It takes the fun out of being at a physical auction where buyers get caught up in bidding wars, and items may actually sell for more in person than an online auction.
  • Online auctions take the “social” out of attending local auctions.  When you stop and think about it, online auctions are “anti-social.”
  • Tangible experience.  With an online auction, you can’t personally examine the item(s) you would like to bid on.  You just look at photos and bid accordingly.  With a local auction, you can preview, handle, examine, test, etc. to be sure your bid is where it should be.

As a result, many items from online auctions end up being returned because:

  1. The seller did not properly describe the item, or,
  2. The pictures did not represent the item accurately, or,
  3. The buyer is fickle.

Online auctions are neither positive or negative.  They certainly do boost viewers and more people are shopping from their homes.  But as an appraiser, I wanted to offer some unique thoughts into the world of online auctions.

©2014 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com

 

Published in: on June 12, 2014 at 9:30 am  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , ,

What is “Weighted” Silver?

For many years, I have been appraising and advising on all kinds of residential contents, but one item has always eluded my imagination.  So, I thought I would share it with you in the form of a little “Show and Tell” now that I have a good example.

When people think of sterling silver, they think it has value.  They would be correct, but in some cases, the value is not necessarily as great as one might think.  Because the spot price of silver is currently down, many people are collecting scrap silver or scrapping family silver pieces for quick cash.  This is done by weight only, so families may think that mom’s candlesticks are very heavy and therefore must be worth a fortune!

What most people don’t realize is that many pieces that mom or grandma have are “weighted” sterling.  If you look at the base of the sterling candlesticks, footed bowls, or candelabra, you will see a base that is actually filled with cement, a composite of some sort.  The sterling silver over that base is actually foil thin.  If you turn over the piece, you will see it says “weighted silver.”

This piece was broken and found in the trash.

 

This is how I found the piece.

This is how I found the piece.

This is what the weight looks like with top layer of silver removed.

This is what the weight looks like with top layer of silver removed.

The bottom of the piece, which will often say "Weighted Silver" or in this case, "Reinforced with Cement"

The bottom of the piece, which will often say “Weighted Silver” or in this case, “Reinforced with Cement”

The end product ... Nothing but foil thin pieces of actual sterling silver

The end product … Nothing but foil thin pieces of actual sterling silver

I peeled the actual foil-thin silver off, so you could see the “weight” was not silver at all, but just a lump of resin/cement.  By the time you peel off the good silver, it weighs about a third of an ounce (if that), or approximately $6.60 in scrap silver, because the weight was removed from this broken base.  If the piece had the top portion, it would have been worth more.  I wanted to demonstrate that scrap silver is not that easy to accumulate; you have to know what can be scrapped and what can’t.

I hope you enjoyed this.  I never knew what the inside of one of these candlesticks actually looked like!

©2014 The Estate Lady®

Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.

No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com

 

Published in: on May 23, 2014 at 9:30 am  Comments (4)  
Tags: ,