10 tips for setting the right price for vintage items

Posted on: February 12, 2009

Classic Vintage Trenchcoat

Classic Vintage Trenchcoat

We’re starting a new blog post series on tips and guides for new hobbyists and shoppers to get the most out of selling on – today, we’re talking about how to think about valuating your old vintage items

You’ve found a classic vintage trenchcoat or the perfect pair of white patent leather go-go boots at the back of your mother’s closet. Now what? Well, aside from wearing them with your finest Gaultier couture, it might help to understand their value as true vintage.

So, what is the best way to place a value on your vintage pieces? Although specifics vary by type of item, here are somes general guidelines that can help you determine the best ways to value your vintage pieces or even your vintage collection.

1. Closely Examine the Condition

The piece does not have to be in perfect condition, as it is vintage, however, it should not look its age either. The more flaws, signs of poor workmanship or discoloration the less valuable the piece will be. Is the piece in pristine condition, with a relatively new appearance? If your answer is a resounding “YES,” then the piece will be able to get a very competitive, top price.

2. Learn about your piece

Once you have obtained a vintage piece, learn as much as you can about its history. Who was the designer? Where did the piece originate? What is the date of fabrication? Was it a limited edition? Does it have a unique feature? Is it a rare find? The more you know, the easier it will be asses a value and to determine if you truly have a highly valued, rare vintage piece. Educate yourself on details of certain types of collections, not just your own pieces. You may be inspired to seek other pieces to complete your collection, thus fetching a higher value.

3. Market Research

Locate listings of similar vintage pieces, comparable to your piece, to get a better idea of the prices buyers are willing to pay. Online auctions or listings of local auctions are the most helpful place to start. Because the online community allows for you to be exposed to a large number of markets and auctions, it should be fairly easy to locate the values of similar pieces.

4. Contact the experts

When in doubt, find an expert in the valuation of vintage pieces. Think Antique Roadshow, only for vintage. There are plenty of individuals who have extensive experience reviewing and evaluating all things vintage from jewelry to comic books.

5. Consult price guides available for your vintage pieces.

There are a number of books, magazines and online price guides to peruse. It is best to use multiple resources to get a fair, average assessment. Don’t select the highest price, but don’t short yourself and value the item too low, you may end up losing out on a valuable sale.

6. Be fair and realistic

Even if you feel as though you should ask a high price for a piece, because of sentimental value, it just may not fetch the highest price from buyers. Respect the ups and downs of the market and try to remain realistic about what buyers will pay.

7. Storing vintage items

To maintain value, make sure to store your pieces according to best preservation methods for your type of item. It would be a shame for your pieces to decrease in value simply because of exposure to sunlight or your dog’s drool.

8. Trends

Even though your piece may be vintage, styles from certain eras always find resurgence. However, don’t be discouraged if you just missed a wave of high-demand for specific pieces. Store them carefully, the trend is sure to come around again. If the item is classy enough to be timeless, you are sure to find a buyer no matter what the recent trends. Additionally, modern items that resemble vintage items can also find success with buyers.

9. Acquire pieces in which you can truly see value or potential, even if a bit of restoring is necessary.

Visit auctions, estate sales, consignment shops or your grandmother’s jewelry box (if she’s willing to part) to find the best and most unique pieces. If you have been collecting your vintage pieces for a while, it is possible that you have accumulated great collections to share.

10. When in doubt, ask questions and get second opinions

Even if you have little experience in selling vintage items, it is fairly easy to spot a swindler or a fraud. If you are unsure about a “professional’s” opinion that doesn’t seem very professional, get a second or even third opinion. It is best to feel comfortable with the obtained value and reasoning behind the value before attempting to sell a vintage piece.

Remember, most of these tips also apply to buying vintage, but we have to save some tips for the sequel!

Let us know your thoughts or opinions. If you have other tips that have helped in determining the value of your vintage pieces, we would love to hear about it.


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