For decades, my mom collected decorative bells. She stopped adding new items when she and my dad downsized and moved into a small apartment. Many of her bells were gifts, most purchased with some personal connection in mind. I bought one at a flea market because it had a handle shaped like a fiddle and it sported the words “Grand Ole Opry,” something I knew she enjoyed. I doubt anything in her collection is worth much monetarily. Still, I keep thinking I should make an effort to research the dollar value.
When I finally get around to it, I’ll start with a library database: Prices 4 Antiques. This site tracks sales from 140 U.S. auction houses. If a tea set like the one you inherited from Great Aunt Ethel has sold recently, you can learn the going price. It’s also a fun site for window shopping. Note: there is a category for antique books!
For the collector who finds a printed price guide appeals more to the antiquarian spirit, we have a variety of Warman’s publications. Jewelry, coins, Civil War Collectibles – whatever your passion, Warman probably has a guide to help you sort it out.
Whether you plan to keep or sell your treasures, you’ll want them in good condition. “Miller’s Care and Repair of Antiques and Collectibles” can give you guidance. An assortment of photographs accompanies the written directions.
I’ve known plenty of people who have a collection that’s “going to be worth something someday.” Meanwhile, many collections truly are worth something right now. Whether this is an expected eventuality or a present reality, it can’t hurt to do some financial planning. The “Collector’s Handbook” provides “tax planning, strategy, and estate advice for collectors and their heirs.”
To browse a larger collection of resources, see our catalog list.