Your home might contain a treasure trove of antiques and vintage items, and you might not even know it if you're unsure of the value of your belongings. Typically, when a couple is setting up a home, their family donates household and other items to ease the financial burden of starting out. Sometimes these items are worth quite a bit of money depending on their age, desirability and condition.
Antique or Vintage
Knowing the difference between antique and vintage can help you determine the value of an item. Traditionally, items over 100 years old are considered to be antique. However, some antique dealers are trying to lower the age requirement to include items over 50 years old. Vintage is even harder to define. Some consider a once-popular item as vintage if it is less than 25 years old but has regained popularity. Others think that vintage items must be more than 20 years old, while yet others feel the term should only apply to items between 50 and 100 years old.
Condition and Rarity
The condition of your items is important when finding their value. Items in pristine, working condition typically bring the highest prices. However, according to Antiques Helper, perfect wood in an antique might prove that the item is a forgery because wood generally changes over time. Even if an old item is in perfect condition, the available quantity of the item can lessen its value. Books on antiques, online antique guides and professional appraisers can help you determine if an item is rare.
Short of hiring a qualified appraiser, determining the value of your items can be a guessing game, according to Kovels.com. However, it's possible to come up with a fair guesstimate by researching online auctions, pricing guides and various books. Look for items like your own in similar condition. Write down the prices and average them by adding them all together and dividing by the total number of items to determine the approximate value of your piece. Talk with friends and relatives who have knowledge about the value of antiques and browse local antique stores and flea markets to see what the price range is on items similar to the ones you own.
Regardless of the estimated value, the price you can receive for your items depends on finding the right buyer. It's about demand as much as value. For example, an antique lamp table with an appraised value of $200 to $300 sold for $70 at an Antiques Helper auction, whereas a set of vintage Barbie doll clothes with an appraised value between $50 and $100 sold for $130. If you find a buyer that can't live without the item you have to sell, the price that you can receive for your piece is determined by how much the buyer is willing to pay as opposed to the appraised value.
Specializing in business and finance, Lee Nichols began writing in 2002. Nichols holds a Bachelor of Arts in Web and Graphic Design and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Mississippi.