For many, downsizing can be a rollercoaster of emotions and experiences, which extends to downsizing collectibles and collections. Often, when people decide to downsize, there isn’t as much space in their new home, and people have to decide what to do with the things they’ve collected. Dismantling a collection after spending years tracking down pieces to add to it can be rough.
People who have built up a collection know the dedication and care that goes into building it. A person can spend years, even decades, carefully cultivating different items or pieces of their collection. They may have been passed down from departed loved ones or be closely tied to memories of them. So, when the time comes to consider letting go of it, it’s a complex process.
Our collections have a special place in our hearts, especially hard-to-find pieces. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t options for passing our collections along, in whole or in part, to others who will cherish them. But to start downsizing your collection, you need to know how they’re valued and how to find the right people or organizations to pass them to.
If you need help or guidance when downsizing or decluttering a collection, NEATSPACES’ house declutter service is always available. We know that downsizing can be difficult and emotional, and we strive to provide understanding support and guidance without pressuring our clients. With that in mind, let’s go over some advice for what to do with your much-loved collections and collectibles when downsizing.
Trying to come up with a specific value for a collection is difficult as there is so much variation between the different kinds of things people collect and extreme variations in values for different individual pieces of a collection. With many collections, more common and generic pieces are generally easy to price. When you get into rare items, determining their price becomes more difficult. Age, condition, rarity and demand are common factors influencing value.
If what you collect is something of a specific brand, like Hummel or Royal Doulton figurines, you can usually find plenty of information on their websites. For many other collections, you’ll need to get them valued professionally. Another factor to keep in mind is that for some collections, they’ll be more valuable as a set, and for others, they’ll be more valuable sold as individual pieces.
Remember that your collection might not be worth what you think it will be and that just because something is valued at a certain amount, that doesn’t mean you will be able to sell it for that price if the demand isn’t there. For example, there was a time when hummels could be worth up to $400 each, but now it’s more typical to sell them in groups of four or five for about $50.
We’ll do our best at providing ranges and how to get more specific valuations from reputable sources:
Mintage, survival, demand, melt value, grade and condition, and the dealer stock all affect how they are valued. If a coin horde is found and is entered into the market all at once, prices can change quickly and drastically.
Price guides can be found online, but be sure it’s been published in the last year. Guides can be complemented by browsing online auction listings to get a good idea of value, but expert valuation should be your first choice.
Small, standard pieces can sell for as little as $10. Rare, elaborate pieces can sell for as high as $2,000 to $25,000. The more delicate and rare it is, the higher the value. There is a comprehensive database you can use to confirm the authenticity and find the value of specific pieces.
China is typically not valued very high, but special patterns and sets can be worth over $100 apiece. Collectors tend to look for older Royal Crown Derby pieces for the most value. For the most accurate valuation, contact a specialist dealer or auction house.
Most spoons sell for less than $60, and many sell for less than $30. It is extremely rare for spoons to sell for more than $100. Spoons showing popular tourist sites are more common and often not as valuable. The most valuable ones display important historical events or subjects.
Rare war medals can be worth up to six figures. For a proper valuation, research the item online and take it to a local coin or military memorabilia collector.
Factors like age, artist, label, condition, reissues and more can determine a record’s value. There are online guides that provide information for accurately pricing records. Selling prices can be anywhere from 50 cents to $50. Extremely rare and valuable records can sell for five or six figures.
Condition, edition, and scarcity all influence book values. Online resources like Abe Books, Biblio, Alibris, and AntiQBook are excellent sources for determining the value of antique and rare books and finding dealers.
Contact a certified Inuit art gallery in your area for proper valuation. To sell them, find an auction house that sells Inuit art, like Waddingtons in Toronto or Walkers in Ottawa.
For valuable artwork, it’s always best to go through a reputable art dealer.
Cranberry glass is often sold online, in antique shops, or at flea markets. Less intricate pieces can sell for less than $100. Large, ornate or detailed pieces can go for more than $1,000, but that price is rare.
Many collectors are surprised to learn their stamp collections aren’t worth much. According to the Southeastern Stamp Expo, the stamp or collection is unlikely to be worth much unless it’s unused, in perfect condition, and issued before 1930.
Prices for baseball cards run the gamut. Baseball cards are a billion-dollar industry, and some of the rarest cards are worth millions, but most collections won’t come close to that. Cards can typically go for $25 to several hundred. Look on eBay to find cards of similar value, but to get top dollar, you’ll need a high score from a grading company.
A lot of antique furniture no longer commands the prices they once did, but with a resurgence of interest from millennials and Gen Z in having some vintage and antique furniture accent pieces, some items can still command high prices. It’s often best to get in touch with local antique shops or auction houses if you’re interested in getting pieces or a collection valued.
If you need help downsizing your home, NEATSPACES is always available to provide gentle and compassionate assistance and advice as you navigate the process of decluttering your belongings and collections. If you’ve decided to get rid of your collectibles, there are two options: gifting or selling.
If you’re planning to pass your collection on to kids or grandkids, make sure that’s what they want. For the most part, millennials and Gen Zs don’t want to be weighed down with delicate collectibles, but it’s worth asking, especially with a trend towards all things vintage.
Don’t be offended if they don’t want anything, though. It’s important to remove your expectations from this offer. You don’t want to guilt your children or grandchildren into taking items they don’t want. For some kids, having this collection, or a piece of it, might be a way for them to hold onto memories of you, but for others, their memories are found elsewhere.
If you don’t have a friend or loved one who wants the entire collection, these are the next steps.
The easiest is to look for collectors or even museums interested in the entire collection. This will save you a lot of time and effort compared to selling things individually. The next step would be to find a collector or museum who wants individual pieces, likely the rarest or most valuable.
If there’s still a high demand for the type of collection you have, you may be able to find collector fairs or events where you can make connections and sell your pieces. These options are a great way to sell or give the items to people who will care and appreciate them as you do.
You can contact auction houses, consignment stores, or online for everything else. As we mentioned earlier, for some collectibles, like hummels, it’s best to bundle them into groups of five or 10.
Of course, if you choose to hold on to your entire collection or just a few pieces from it, that’s your prerogative. If you do decide to hold on to your collection, leaving advice for what to do with it or how to sell it as part of your estate planning can make it much easier for your spouse or family when the time comes is an appreciated gesture. When helping our clients with estate cleaning, we often see grieving family members trying to decide what to do with the belongings of their loved ones not knowing what they would have wanted.
Also, be sure to leave instructions on handling or caring for the collection. For example, people unfamiliar with collecting coins may think cleaning the collection will improve their value, but it’s actually the opposite and dramatically decreases their value. A quick google search for different collections can garner many results of “I’ve just inherited a huge collection, what do I do?” Don’t leave your family members in the lurch when they are already dealing with grief.
Downsizing isn’t a one size fits all process. Everyone needs to find their own way. For some, getting rid of the entire collection makes sense. For others, it’s important to hold onto some of the memories.
Choose a few of your favourite pieces to keep if you’ll have the space in your new home. If you find yourself wanting to keep too much, limit yourself to a certain amount of display or storage space to help you make the tough choices.
Just as you can digitize your photo collection, you can take photos of your collectibles so you can easily carry the memories with you wherever you go without the space that they take up.
The photos you’ve taken can be put into an online album, or you can also create a photo book. In addition to the photos of your collection, you can add details about why you began collecting, how much individual pieces cost or how you found them, historical details, sentimental memories attached to them, and where each piece ends up.
It might be tough to let go of a collection you’ve spent years or a lifetime cultivating, but you can have peace of mind knowing these items can live on elsewhere.