A recent Facebook headline that read, “No one wants Granny’s stuff” isn’t just fake news. It turns out some of Granny’s stuff may not be as valuable as she believed because fashions have changed. Still, under that American Facebook posting some antique dealer had written, “I want it” and local auctioneers say the same is true here.
“There’s still a lot of Granny’s stuff that’s marketable but the frilly girl-stuff like china or like Royal Doulton figurines may not be that valuable. The stuff we grew up with, that we weren’t supposed to touch because everyone thought it was valuable, may have reduced value today,” said Brad Ward of Ward’s Auctions.
All that silverplate that Granny polished; all those fine porcelain teacups and the special platter passed down through two generations from Great Granny are still beautiful, but no one wants to care for those things anymore. Great Granny’s platter may be greatly loved because it was used to serve up 75 years of Sunday dinners, but it may have been inexpensive even when it was first purchased.
“What you paid for it originally is often a marker to what it may be worth today. If it was good quality to begin with it may stand the test of time,” said auctioneer Sean Kastner of Kastner Auctions.
The original value test holds true in some cases but not all. Once-expensive, top-of-the-line electronics or stereos have become outdated.
“If you had a really high-end Bose system it has some value but most older mid-end systems have little or no value,” Kastner said.
Architectural trends and smaller lot sizes mean the dining room in most modern houses has been transformed into a family room. Dining room suites are generally less valuable now because family rooms have no space for a china cabinet.
“It will still sell, because some people, especially in the country still want dining room furniture, but it may not be as valuable as it was even 15 years ago,” Kastner said.
True antique furniture, which was well made and boasts fine craftsmanship will always sell.
“Finely crafted pieces from 100 years ago that someone made with a vision and care are functional pieces of art and people will make room for them in their homes,” Kastner said.
In some cases, older jewelry will be valued as an antique and may be worth more than the actual gold that holds it together.
“A watch chain may have only nine karats of gold, but its antique value may be greater than if you melted it down,” Ward said.
While Granny’s most treasured items may sell for less money than everyone in the family assumes possible, Grandpa’s tools, his collection of Stetsons, his coins and his baseball cards may have the greatest value. If he had tin toys from the 1940s, you may not need to buy a lottery ticket because those kinds of toys, especially Second World War-era toy planes or tanks are often worth hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars.
“People are looking for stuff for their man-cave so nautical stuff, Western stuff, leather and barn collectibles are all valuable,” Ward said.
Whether Granny’s perceived treasure is gold or tin, old or relatively new, the best determination of its value will be the auction, because so many people bid on an item to arrive at a price.
Both auctioneers recommend calling in an expert for a free assessment. They will charge a commission to sell the items, but in the end there will be a safety factor because no strangers will trot through your home.
“Before you do anything have an expert assess what is saleable and what is not. Who knows? Down in the basement, there may be very valuable toys or other gems hiding there that you have no idea how much they are worth,” said Ward.