If you are called upon to be a personal representative for an estate, this article will guide you through selling the personal property. When speaking with someone on the phone or exchanging emails we determine the size of the home, if there are antiques and other desirable pieces such as paintings by trained artists, gold jewelry, old coins or other collections. We also ask whether it is an entire estate or if many of the items will be distributed to family members, etc. If the client is moving to assisted living or downsizing for any other reason, it is especially important to know which items will be moved to the new home and which are for sale. Emailing pictures is helpful in determining whether or not you have valuable items.
When there is mutual interest we visit the home and perform a walk-through to get an overview of the type of items that the client wants to sell. We then offer suggestions on how things will sell once we’ve toured the home. Typically we take rarer items to auction and sell the remainder in an on site estate sale (tag sale). There are times, though, when items aren’t a good fit for our auctions and we offer a client other suggestions.
We’ll start with the bad news. Unfortunately, collectibles like 1980’s collectible plates or porcelain dolls from home shopping channels typically are worth considerably less than they were when purchased. Also, we often hear that items were from someone who lived into their 80’s or 90’s and that the person who contacted us thinks that the items are antiques. Often, many items were purchased later in their life and could be from the early 2000’s.
Fortunately, we encounter more situations where there are antiques and valuables when we meet with our clients. The best case scenario is when items have been passed down from generation to generation and little has been thrown away. Frequently, smaller antiques and collectibles often have more value than furniture and larger items.
So, what are we looking for when we first visit a home? We walk through and get an idea of the overall age. Furnishings may be as varied as from the late 1700’s or early 1800’s to the 1950’s and 60’s mid-century modern furniture. There are buyers for both. Gold and silver in all forms have value such as coins, jewelry and sterling silver flatware and hollowware. Paintings, sculptures and other art by talented artists can command strong prices. Historical photos, documents and other items may also be desirable. For example, we sold a sealskin coat that was used by Admiral Byrd in one of his expeditions and sold newspaper wire photos of sports stars of the 1920’s and 30’s that were found in local estates. Old toys, advertising signs, posters and quality home decorations by Tiffany Studios and other artisans are also highly sought after. Our auctions have included a 1941 Chrysler Saratoga, Chris Craft wooden boat and a small metal vintage gas station building. The odd and unusual also sell. A collector had us sell a collection of vintage items where most were still in the original packages. We sold a box of vintage toilet paper rolls for over $50 that were still in the original packages. There are collectors out there for everything!
We have many upcoming events scheduled. On March 28th and 29th we are running an estate sale in Newton. I’ll be teaching “Evaluating your Antiques” for the Worcester Public Schools the evening of April 1st and I will be appraising items for the 2nd annual Hitchcock Academy fundraiser in Brimfield on April 12th. Every Monday in April at 11:00 AM, I will be lecturing on a different antique related topic at the Goddard House in Worcester. I will be listing other events in future columns.
Contact us at: Wayne Tuiskula Auctioneer/Appraiser Central Mass Auctions for Antique Auctions, Estate Sales and Appraisal Services www.centralmassauctions.com (508-612- 6111), firstname.lastname@example.org