So, you've inherited a wonderful "what's-it" from your Great Aunt So and So. Or perhaps you bought a terrific "thing-a-ma-jig" at a garage sale. But what is it, and more importantly, what is it worth? Read on, and find the way to begin your research in the following pathfinder.
An antique is an old collectible item. It is collected or desirable because of its age, rarity, condition, utility, or other unique features. Usually it is an object that represents a previous era in human society. Antiques are usually objects which show some degree of craftsmanship, or a certain attention to design such as a piece of furniture or an early automobile.
A collectible typically describes a manufactured item designed for people to collect. In this respect, they are distinguishable from other subjects of collections, which may also include natural objects (e.g., butterflies) and objects manufactured for purposes other than collecting (e.g., stamps). Some objects designed for other purposes, such as toys, become so popular among collectors that they are later marketed specifically to that audience.
A good place to start is the About.com web pages for Antiques and Collectibles. These pages offer helpful information about what items are popular in the world of antiques and collectibles. There are many helpful links located on these pages that lead to specific items, such as baseball card collecting and furniture appraisal guidelines.
Another good place to look for antiques and collectibles is Ebay. You can browse the categories and look for similar objects to the item you may have in your possession, or shop for a specific type of collectible. Ebay is a good way to determine prices, or the current market value for a particular object.
The following sites are also excellent resources:
Antiques Roadshow Online
The popular TV show goes online. There are many useful sections. One is "Tips of the Trade," which details a particular facet of collecting each month, and the previous articles are still accessible. Another section, "Antique Speak," is a small, but growing, glossary of antique terms. Make sure to check out "Stories from the Road," where you can get sneak previews of appraisals on upcoming shows.
This is the site for one of the world's premiere auction houses. If you have what you believe to be a really high ticket item, you can peruse their site for recent auction results.
This is the site for another of the world's best known auction houses. Christie's is known for dealing in high priced, rare art items, such as paintings.
Appraiser Organizations and Websites
American Society of Appraisers
Visit this site to find an expert appraiser in your area. You can search for appraisers by their specialty.
Appraisers Association of America
Another professional appraisers association, also with an appraiser database, searchable by location and specialization.
A properly prepared appraisal will clarify questions of property value in any circumstance. This site's appraisals are above national conformance standards, and adhere to a much higher standard than a general appraisal.
Ralph and Terry Kovel have been respected names in the antique and collectibles business for over 30 years, publishing a yearly price guide. The Kovel's now have a website full of wonderful resources. You can search for current prices on items. The site also contains in-depth articles, many of which are alerts about reproductions. This is a highly useful site that you will want to return to again and again.
Judith Miller Online
Judith Miller is the British equivalent to the Kovels. She produces a yearly price guide, as well as several other books about antiques. She also has written several books encouraging people to decorate with their antiques. Her website has a "market watch page," detailing the "hot" items in the antiques and collectibles world.
GoAntiques, headquartered in Dublin, Ohio, is the only virtual marketplace in the art, antiques and collectibles industry offering an integrated, one-stop solution for both storefront and live auction selling. GoAntiques also offers the world's largest antiques and collectibles price guide, PriceMiner (www.priceminer.com), with over 20 million antiques and collectibles prices. PriceMiner also now includes Info Center, with hundreds of articles about collecting, repair and restoration and more.
Many people who "antique" or collect certain items specialize--meaning they have one or two preferred areas which in they collect valuables. These subject areas are very extensive, ranging from "Beanie Babies" to antique "Zebra Skins!" The websites below represent excellent resources for an overview of information about antiques and collectibles.
Antique Resources at World Wide Art Resources
World Wide Arts Resources is a small, privately held company based in Granville, Ohio, in the heart of the US. Since 1995, wwar.com has provided information to millions of art enthusiasts. In the past years, wwar.com has become the largest arts site on the World Wide Web. World Wide Arts Resources is dedicated to connecting the people of the world to the world of art. The Artist/Premiere Portfolio services are the largest and most successful program of its kind representing over 150,000 works by over 24,000 artists from around the world.
TY Beanie Babies
Ty Inc. is a designer and manufacturer of stuffed toys. The company is best known for its 'Beanie Babies'--a series of small, stuffed animals, each with its own name. Beanie Babies, which are produced in limited numbers, have become a favorite of collectors, and hard-to-find models often command hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars in the secondary market.
Founded in 1984, Beckett Media is the leading publisher of sports and specialty market collectible platforms in the U.S. The privately held company, considered the world's most trusted source in collecting, currently publishes 18 magazines. Beckett.com offers collectors instant access to more than twenty-two million sports memorabilia items from close to 1,200 hobby shops worldwide and auctions.
The official web site for the National Association of Collectors and the Association of Collecting Clubs.
The Internet's Exclusive Antiquing and Collecting Directory. It contains over 3,000 sites and shops. Launched on the internet in 1995 by businesses and individuals from around the globe. Curioscape lists collectibles and antiques by category.
Hemmings Motor News
The Hemmings site claims to be the world's largest collector car marketplace. Users can browse for automobiles and car parts, as well as read informative articles.
World Collectors Net
World Collectors Net claims to be the web's premiere collecting resource and portal for collectors. Throughout their pages, you will find information and features on dozens of popular collectibles, including free interactive Message Boards, the WCN Online Magazine, news stories on collecting from around the world and blogs from collecting experts.
Collectionantique.com is a national directory of antique dealer supplies and services and collectible dealers providing shop locations, addresses, phone numbers all across the state. This directory is also antique resources guide to antique auctions, services, ads, advertising, vintage collectibles, antique toys, jewelry and other types of personal properties. There are around 50000 entries under 40 categories. Each category is again divided by regions for easy searching. You can also add your related antique shop or service to the directory through easy steps.
Antique and Collectibles National Association
This is the official site of Antique dealers and collectors. It provides mall and shop owner information, show promotion information and a promotion mall/shop/dealer locator.
There are so many books about antiques and collectibles that you could start a collection of them. Once you find your particular collecting niche, you'll want to get more specific books. Here's a hint to help keep your costs down - look in antique stores for older editions. The pictures are still relevant and useful for identification, and the older books are a fraction of the price of newer editions. If you don't see any at your local antique store, ask the owner - almost all of them have a stack of these books somewhere. Also, check for older publications and newsletters. Although the prices given for items will be outdated, the information is still good.
More print resources can be found in your library under these call numbers from the Dewey Decimal Classifications:
*For more in-depth books on your particular item, you will need to find its classification. Ask your librarian for help.
The Library of Congress Subject Heading under which you would find books on antiques and collectibles is:
Again, for specific information about an individual item, you may need to ask your librarian to assist you.
Some of the best pricing guides for antiques and collectibles are listed below:
America's most respected authorities on antiques have compiled the biggest, most thorough, and best-organized price guide on the market, featuring 42,000 appraiser-approved actual prices in 700 categories-and more than 2,500 color pictures. Collectors, be they an antiques professional or casual collector, can find the value of an item quickly and easily with this guide.
For nearly 30 years Miller's Antiques Price Guide has been the benchmark for authority and accessibility, acknowledged as the most comprehensive illustrated guide to antiques from around the world. The newest version features a pool of more than 20 named experts from the U.K., U.S.A., and elsewhere.
For nearly 60 years, Warman's Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide has served up a unique "year-in-review" for all everyone and anyone with ties to the antiques and collectibles community. With more than 2,200 color photos, 25,000 listings, cutting-edge category overviews by renowned experts, up-to-date and thorough pricing this standard-setting guide leads you through the antiques and collectibles world with efficiency and care. This guide also offers a hobby trend report.
For over 20 years, experienced dealers and collectors have relied on this bestselling price guide for their antiques and collectibles needs. Over 50,000 listings are included, from reliable sources and carefully checked by an authority on the subject. Hundreds of photographs accompany the 600+ categories; glass and porcelain, match holders, purses, cookie jars, jewelry, advertising, furniture, dolls, records, and many more. History and other pertinent facts complement the descriptive listings, which reflect the current market and developing trends.
Antique Trader Antiques and Collectibles Price Guide earns best-selling honors year after year by providing precise descriptions and current pricing. They guide has over 14,000+ listings in more than 50 general categories, and 5,500 color photos in an easy-to-use format. Many of these guides are available for free through the public library.
Many public libraries also carry price guides specific to a certain collectible or antique item, such as stamps, coins, or guns.
This pathfinder was created by Maureen Campbell and was updated by B. Novak for Dr. Eileen Abels Info 780 Course at Drexel University, Spring, 2008.