In the auction world, what usually makes major national headlines are record-breaking prices for antiques, art & collectibles. What hits the front page is a story a newly discovered art masterpiece or the one-in-a-million rare Ming vase that sells at a figure more likely to be associated with a phone number than the average price tag for any vase.
While headline news may be entertaining, like most news it's not useful to you unless you can do something with it. If you're a re-seller of antiques, collectibles & junque, odds are you're not finding an undiscovered Van Gogh or a piece of oriental porcelain from 500 AD this week.
No, the prices that matter most to you, are what the types of things most often found are likely be fetch at auction. This is one of the reasons that auction houses publish "prices realized" reports.
I'd rather study prices realized reports over something like an antiques price guides because price guides publish asking prices rather than what an item actually sold for.
However, nothing is fixed so there are still variables to consider. Things such as audience attendance, auction location, item condition, even the order of the auction at which the item of interest was sold has a lot to do with the price an item achieves on the auction block. Still when buying or selling, many dealers go to a prices realized list to research what they're considering because the consider if the best reflection of market value.
The list here are some things that sold in my September 8th, 2013 auction in Gloucester MA.
Little Harbor antiques sign 1997
Two sided antiques sign sold for $50. Signs are great sellers, older ones generally sell for more. And two sided signs are better if they are the hanging type.
Antique oak telephone
While you may never use an antique like this old telephone, collectors pay the best prices for working examples. This sold for $45. If it was the type with the mouthpiece on the case, it would have likely sold for well over $100. It's unknown if it was working or not.
Weird items sell well at times
I purchased this terra-cotta fish planter for $5 at a yard sale, it sold for $55 at auction. Sometimes people just like the unusual. Of course it could also have to do with the fact that it was in a Gloucester auction.
Antique balance scale
Sold for $25. These old balance scales are fun country store items. This one has a porcelain platform on one side. If it were in better condition, it would have brought better money.
Russian military uniform
$50 I really thought I had big money winner here when I purchased this item at a yard sale, but it sold for $50. The reason being is that it was a newer uniform, circa 1980s I was told. A WWII outfit would have been a different story.