You might want to think twice before pricing the kick knacks at your next garage sale. A ceramic bowl purchased by Giuseppe Eskenazi at Sotheby’s auction house in New York was sold for $2.2 million on March 19.
The bowl was made in China during the Song dynasty and originally purchased by a family in 2007 for $3 at a garage sale. According to Sotheby’s, the bowl is approximately 1,000 years old.
If you are planning a garage sale and think you have a treasure on your hand, your best bet would be to get it appraised. While you likely won’t find an item in your attic that’s worth millions, you might find something that could fetch several hundred dollars or more.
To get started, you might want to hire a professional appraiser evaluate the item. The American Society of Appraisers will help you find an appraiser who can evaluate any item in question. You can also refine the search by specialty, which includes categories like fine wine, stamps, clocks and American folk art. Hiring an appraisal is particularly useful if you have several items in a category; for example, if your grandfather left you an album of stamps or coins.
You can also check out your local library and head online for additional resources. For example, the Official Kelley Blue Book can help you find the value of an older car. When in doubt, you can also consult websites like eBay for a rough idea of an item’s going rate.
What shouldn’t you do? It is unlikely that you can ask your local museum for an appraisal. The Art Institute of Chicago, for instance, does not conduct appraisals. If you’re not sure, call the museum first.