Do you ever wonder what happens after the fantastic appraisal on PBS’ Antiques Roadshow? Does the giddy owner of the rare and valuable Fabergé egg rush home and type up a Craigslist ad, realizing full retail value for the item thanks to the open wallet of a complete stranger within a matter of days?
The fact is that even a superlative artifact, extraordinary in design, craftsmanship, and possessing a high degree of historical interest, may take a long time to sell.
Finding the right buyer is a matter of specialized marketing and advertising meant to reach a very specific target audience. Anyone considering making a major investment in an antique or collectible will not do so unless he or she has absolute trust in the integrity of the seller of that item. For this reason well-established antique dealers and auction houses provide the most efficient means for an individual to garner a decent return on a high-end piece of art or furniture.
The television shows American Pickers and Pawn Stars offer an interesting glimpse into the world of acquiring and selling vintage objects running the gamut from rusty gas station signs to signed copies of early American political documents. Both the mobile pickers and the pawn shop owners have fairly high overhead costs that must be met. They are in business to make a profit, and need to buy low and sell high in order to keep their operations going.
There is nothing inherently wrong with this set up. Many people have huge collections of material acquired through the years and really don’t have the time or energy to sort through it themselves, clean it up, research value, and find a willing buyer. This is where the picker can provide a useful service, offering quick cash to purchase what might appear to be junk in an “as-is” condition.
Bottom line is to know your options when seeking to divest yourself of an object you feel may be of interest to a collector. For quick cash, the craigslist ad or visit to the pawn shop may meet your needs. On-line auction sites such as eBay, Amazon, and Etsy can also provide a quick return, but are processes that are a bit more time-consuming.
For bigger-ticket items, you may want to take the time to get a professional appraisal. This will cost money, but is a wise investment when the possible return runs several thousand dollars or more. Though an auction house will take a percentage off the sale price, it is in their own best interest to see that price go as high as possible, and a reputable establishment will throw the weight of their considerable marketing and research resources behind every sale.
Below is a list of some Cincinnati auction houses and pawn shops.
Main Auction Galleries: http://www.mainauctiongalleries.com/
Cowan's Auctions: http://www.cowanauctions.com/
Treadway-Toomey Gallery: http://www.treadwaygallery.com/
Auctions by Maggie: http://www.auctionsbymaggie.com/
Everything but the House: http://www.ebth.org/
Click here for a listing of some Cincinnati pawn shops.