The Four Most Important Factors In Determining The Value Of Your Antiques and Collectibles

By Jason R. Roske

What’s it worth?  As an antique dealer for over 10 years, I have heard that question over 1,000 times.  Many times
the answer is not as straight forward as the question.  There are many factors that determine the worth of an object
– the following four being the most important:

1. Rarity.  

Rarity is the greatest factor to consider when determining the value of an object.  It just makes sense that an item of
which there were only 1,000 made has more value than an item of which there were 10,000 or 100,000 made.  That
is not to say that a “Limited Edition” necessarily means an item is valuable.  I have had to tell many people that their
“Limited Edition” Franklin Mint plates are worth more as a tax donation than in the resale market place.   

2. Quality

Quality is another extremely important factor.  Items that were made well when new are always in demand.  
Whether they were made yesterday or 100 years ago.  Items that were cheaply made rarely maintain any level of
desirability in the market place.  It generally takes longer to make an item of quality as well, and that feeds into the
rarity factor.  If a workshop can only make 100 of their vases in a day because they demand the best, it will be more
rare in the years to come.  

3. Condition.  

No matter how well made or rare an item is, its value will be affected by condition.  An art glass vase that is worth
$2,500.00 in perfect condition may sell for half, or less of that with any kind of damage.  Yes, that flake on the
bottom that no one sees is damage.  Yes, that scratch on the side is damage and it all affects the value.  Even
damage that occurred in the making of the piece affects value.  A piece of pottery that has a glaze skip, an area
where the glaze doesn’t cover uniformly, is worth less than an identical item with uniformity and that is something
that happened when the item was made.  

4. Market Demand.   

All of this information is useless until an item is actually offered for sale.  Trends and tastes change.  When my wife
and I first started in this business, Jadeite glassware from the 1950’s was considered nice, but a slow seller.  
Then Martha Stewart came along and kept saying how wonderful the soft green color was and that it could be used
in any setting.  All of a sudden there are pieces of Jadeite selling for well over $1,000.00.  

By stark contrast, a nice piece of Staffordshire pottery that is 100 years old is sitting for sale untouched and
unwanted by today’s buyers at a fraction of that cost.  Just like the stock market, there are winners and losers in the
antiques market as well.

The Kansas City Auction Company