Decorators know that 'mid century modern' pieces are all the rage right now and the market values are over-inflated by sites like First Dibs. Occasionally we find pieces like this in people's basements that were taken off the wall 30 years ago and in this case, we lucked out with a nice sale.
This is what un-polished jade looks like. This piece is most likely hundreds of years old but without some kind of documentation most casual collectors just don't want to take a chance paying big prices for things like this. Although honestly, the market for ancient relics is 'soft' and even if this piece did have provenance the sale price would only have been marginally higher.
Just another lighting sale. This piece was only about 25 years old but believe it or not the original price was around $5,000. The company only makes lighting and market's themselves as making functional art. The quality was noticeably superior even to the untrained eye but second hand, it was only worth a fraction of retail.
This is another piece that would have sold for a little more if we had documentation. Post WWII to present day, maritime diving technology has improved so much that recovering artifacts from long sunken ships is relatively easy. Finding buried treasure was even a way of life for some until in the 1980's International laws were passed making it illegal to collect and sell salvage that might otherwise belong to certain nations. Things that were stolen hundreds of years ago are quickly remembered when someone has a way to get them.
I've mentioned before that Native Indian pieces usually sell well. In order to have significant value, pieces like this require provenance which is some type of documentation stating how old it is and where it's from. There are so many brand new 'souvenir' pieces on the market that the collectors are gunshy about spending big money without knowing for sure. We didn't really have much to go on with this and we still got a fair price simply by talking up the estate that it came from.
Historical ephemera will always find it's way to a good home - I'm showing just the 'dance card' but this was a complete invitation to The Ball honoring Prince Edward's visit to the US in 1860, nearly 100 years after we broke off from England so it was a pretty big deal. Usually pieces like this are thrown away by the following generation but the fact that the original owner's children and grandchildred thought to save this made the buyer (who was in Canada of all places) very happt!
We're having fun peddling antiques from the Far East this month from our latest estate. Some of the pieces from this lot are hitting big sale prices! I actually had someone more knowledgeable than myself take a look and nothing appeared to be 'museum quality' but sometimes the collectors 'think they know' something and get carried away. In some cases we try to do extensive research about the things we sell but other times it's best for us to plea ignorance and let the general public decide the value via an eBay auction.
There is a broad line between being a 'picker' and a true antique dealer which I'm trying to cross but I can only stomach so much of Antiques Roadshow. I don't see many 200+ year old Asian pieces so when I do, I get a little nervous as my biggest fear is selling something for much less than what it actually might be worth if properly described.
A friend of mine who is also a dealer was helping me at a job last week and he literally stumbled across this in the back yard. I'll be totally honest in saying that I might have missed this beautiful beast so I'm glad he saw it. He actually wanted to buy it and I offered it to him for $200 knowing it was worth more but he declined. You might ask why would I sell something for less than what it's worth but other dealers are actually among our best customers and being generous with them usually comes back around.
Anything that says 'Not for Sale' requires close inspection as collectors will pay big money for things that were not available to the general public. This 'Uncorrected Proof' copy was actually donated to a library and given to one of the librarians as they already had plenty of copies. A nice bonus for a county job!
Most decorative figurines like these have gone way down in value. I'm sure there is a 'price guide' from 20 years ago that will say these are worth hundreds but I beg to differ. Some pieces like these are still collectible but the people who want them are fewer and farther between these days. I'll mention that we don't take consignment items with an estimated value of less than $50 but with things we buy on our treasure hunts, many of our bread and butter sales are in fact under that mark.
I almost never take clothing on consignment. With this dress suit I found, I knew it was about $1,000 new so I had it dry cleaned and stuck it out on eBay. I'm crossing my fingers that the buyer doesn't try to send it back for not fitting but despite providing full measurements it's happened before and it wouldn't surprise me ;p
I'm posting this to say that while $50 isn't a huge sale, these couple throw pillows were hundreds new and most people would have just tossed them. We recently managed a fairly affluent estate and we knew everything was nice so we didn't underestimate anything. As professional 'pickers', we can't afford to leave any stone (or pillow) unturned.
This piece had a lot going for it - it was a beer advertisment, art, and a history lesson all in one. The owner had originally paid $5000 for it but it had a condition issue which kept it from being worth what he actually paid. It is a rare piece and sometimes people simply overpay for things when there isn't a good sounding board for value. Even had it been perfect, we fished for a couple months but 750 was all it was going to bring.