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  • Nov 15 / 2017
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antique liquidator

Complete Liquidation guide: Avoid Getting Gouged

Online antique buyers

If you hear about an estate sale or liquidation, you may be quite excited—it could be your chance to pick up some valuable antiques for a very good price, especially if no one there knows the true value of the items. In fact, some people seek out antique liquidation sales to purchase items for next to nothing and then sell them online at a higher price, making a nice profit for very little work. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes, it seems like the liquidators have set the prices so high that you’re the one getting gouged. How can you avoid that? Here are a few tips.

Liquidation sale Sarasota


Know What You’re Looking For

Many antique liquidators are betting on impulse buys. They know the people who come to their sales aren’t looking for anything specific. Instead, they’re just there to browse the discounts and pick up what they can at a bargain price. They don’t expect you to browse through what they’re offering and walk away if you don’t see certain things. They hope you get dazzled by all the offerings and pick out things that look like bargains, even if they’re actually not.


Know What’s Valuable and What’s Hot

best place to sell Antique

Of course, you may see something at the sale that you weren’t really looking for but is simply too good to pass up. If you’re shopping to sell your purchases later, you need to know what’s truly valuable and what’s really hot right now. By doing a little research, you’ll know what your customers want so you can walk into an antique liquidation service sale with a shopping list. You may not find everything (or anything), but you’ll know what you should invest in. You may still find the prices higher than you’d want to pay (these services do their homework, too), but you’ll know what you can easily sell and what you can’t.


Go as Soon as Possible

Antique sale

Some liquidation sales last for several days if it’s a private estate or weeks if it’s a store or antique service. The earlier you can go, the better selection you’ll have. However, prices are likely to be higher earlier in the sale. If you want to really look at the bargains and maybe even haggle a bit, go on the afternoon of the last day. In most cases, the estate appraisal & liquidation service gets a percentage of the sales, and they’re going to want to make as much as possible before they start dropping prices.


Be Certain to Carefully Look Over the Entire Item

Best Antique Collection

It’s not uncommon for small scratches, dents, or other damage to be overlooked or even ignored by the service hosting the sale. If you find imperfections or damage, bring it to the attention of one of the attendants there. It’s likely you’ll be able to negotiate the price down. Of course, you may not be able to sell the piece for what you’d like if you can’t repair it. It helps to know whatyou can and cannot fix, too, so you know whether or not to even try getting a discount on the item.

  • Nov 02 / 2017
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Antique Jewelry

How to Identify Your Vintage Jewelry’s True Value

Do you know if your vintage jewelry is valuable or not? Some people do have pieces that are surprisingly worth a lot of money. Others may have items that they believe are valuable but are actually not. If you know how to identify your antique or vintage jewelry, you won’t be shocked when you visit a buyer and get a low offer. You’ll also know what your pieces are worth so you won’t get taken advantage of.

Antique Jewelry

How can you know what the value of each item you have is without going to an appraiser? There are a few different things to look for on each piece of jewelry that can help you determine the true value of your vintage jewelry.

The Hallmarks Tell You a Lot

Asking, “How much is my vintage jewelry worth?” isn’t a quick and easy question to answer, but it’s also not as difficult as you may think thanks to the internet. You now have many different resources at your fingertips, which means you won’t have to visit the library or seek out experts. The first thing you can look for is the hallmark. Most jewelry pieces will include a small manufacturer’s or designer’s mark. This mark, which is like a logo or a few letters, can tell you a lot. In fact, some pieces actually have several different marks on them, which makes it even easier.


The hallmark is the brand of the designer or manufacturer. If you know who made the piece, it’s much easier to find out if it’s valuable or not. You might also see a mark that indicates the country of origin or the year the piece was made. You may also see a small number that indicates the metal content. For example, a silver piece may be marked 925, which means it’s mostly silver but has a small amount of copper in it.

Check the Weight

Real antique Silver

Real gold and silver weighs more than materials such as pewter and brass. When doing a vintage jewelry appraisal, be sure to pick up the item and test its weight. This is important with all jewelry, but it’s necessary when you’re determining the weight of a necklace, bangle, or chain. If you pick up a chain that is supposedly made from gold, but it feels very light, it’s likely hollow gold or completely fake gold.

Look at the Prongs


Another tip that antique jewelry buyers will give newcomers is to be sure to inspect the prongs. While some costume jewelry, especially the higher end costume pieces, uses high quality prongs, most do not. Instead, the stones and fake gems are simply glued in. Fine jewelry will have small prongs that hold in each stone so that it’s not damaged in any way.

Do keep in mind, though, that some high-end vintage costume pieces can actually be worth money, especially those that use prongs and look much more expensive than they actually are. You may be able to get a good amount of money for these pieces.

  • Oct 26 / 2017
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Antique Gold and Jewelry

Authenticated Bullion Technique to Test for Gold & Silver at Home

Once you’ve purchased gold or silver, even if it’s from a seller you trust, you may have one question rolling around in the back of your mind: is it real? It’s not always easy to tell if a bullion is actually gold or silver or if it’s simply plated. Fortunately, there are a number of techniques to test gold & silver at home. Some of these techniques simply require you to carefully examine the piece for certain markings.

Test for Gold & Silver

Look for Markings and Finishes

The first thing to do is to look for specific antique markings. Nearly all bullion will have a mintmark on it. If you don’t see a mark, it could be fake. You may also see marks that indicate the purity, weight, mintage year, serial number, or other information. If there’s no markings on the piece at all, there’s very little chance that it’s an authentic gold or silver bullion.

Look for Markings

If you’re looking at a coin, how can you tell if it is real gold? The trick is to look at the edge. It’s very hard to replicate the finish on the edge, something that is done on purpose to make it hard to counterfeit silver and gold coins. Each coin is designed with its own unique edge finish. Some of these finishes have small ridges on them. Others are smooth. Some even feature small letters or have various textures. If you know what to look for, you can determine if the edging is consistent with what that type of coin should have.

Do a Ping Test

What is bullion techniques ping test? This unique test involves tapping the piece of metal with another piece. To conduct it, simply find a non-abrasive metal item and tap your gold or silver bullion with it. If you hear a ping that rings out for a second or two, you have an authentic piece. If, on the other hand, you hear a dull clunk or some other sound, you have a fake.

Do a Ping Test

Test for Magnetism

You can also test your bullion to see if they are magnetic. Neither gold nor silver is, so if the piece reacts to the magnet at all, then you know it’s not pure. However, it’s important to remember that some of the alloys and metals commonly used in counterfeiting are also nonmagnetic, so don’t base your entire decision on the results of this one test.

Test for Magnetism

Test the Metal’s Conductivity

If you’re looking for specific silver stacking techniques for determining if what you have is pure silver, you can do a conductivity test. This test requires nothing more than an ice cube. Silver is highly heat-conductive, so if you place an ice cube on the bullion, you should see it immediately start to melt since the silver will have stored heat. If it doesn’t, your piece is not pure silver.

Test the Metal’s Conductivity

Be Cautious

Antique Gold Piece

Finally, remember that any test you do should not harm your bullion. Never do any test that requires you to scrape, drop, or otherwise damage your gold or silver. Lightly tapping the piece for the ping test shouldn’t damage it, but anything further may decrease the overall value of your piece.

  • Oct 13 / 2017
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Antique Chair

How to Identify Antique Furniture Chair Styles

If you’re in the market for antique furniture, you want to make certain that the chairs and other pieces you’re purchasing are true antiques and not knockoffs that you’re being charged too much for. That’s why it’s important that you know how to identify the various styles of antique chairs. By knowing what to look for, you’ll be better able to tell if what you’re purchasing is a true antique or not. You’ll also be able to identify any chairs you own so you can tell if they’re truly valuable or simply sentimental pieces.


Identify the Period

One of the first steps in antique furniture appraisal is to identify the period from which the furniture comes. To do this yourself, you’ll need to do an internet search for an antique style guide. You can then look at the shape of your chair and compare it to those listed. When you think you know what period your chair is from, you can do an image search to compare pictures to what you have.

Antique Furniture

This may be more difficult if your chair has had new reupholstered or refinished, but remember that you’re looking at the overall shape and outline of the piece, not necessarily the materials or colors used.

Study the Wood


Another method useful for identifying antique furniture is to look at the wood it’s made out of. Many antique chairs use oak, bird’s eye maple, elm, walnut, ash, cherry, and rosewood. However, they were also often combined with imported woods such as African mahogany. Some designers mixed domestic woods, such as those who build Windsor chairs during the 1700s and early 1800s. Again, if you’re uncertain how to identify the different woods, you can look up guides online or visit your local library. Woodworking experts can also assist you.

Look for the Clues to the Designer

Antique Buyers

Many who designed antique furniture chairs had their own signature features that they used in almost all of their pieces. Thomas Sheraton, for example, often made use of straight legs in his pieces. Each leg was fairly slim and had an overall round shape to it. He carefully looked at the proportions, too, so that all of his chairs had a certain graceful look to them. You can study each of the major antique chair designers to learn more about their styles or do a search for specific features of your chair.

The Legs and Feet

Antique Legs and Feet

In fact, the legs and feet of your chair can tell you a lot about the particular style and its designer. Queen Anne style chairs, for example, generally have legs curved in an S shape, while Colonial pieces have a more simplistic curve to them. Some styles used straight legs, while others may have had legs that tapered towards the bottom.

The feet are also important. Some styles used pointed feet, while others had claw feet or ball feet. Check the number of toes on any chair with feet—that’s a good way of determining or at least eliminating some styles.

By identifying the different features listed here, you should be able to narrow down the style of your antique chair to one or, at worst, a short list that you can then further explore.

  • Oct 03 / 2017
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Sterling silver

A Guide to Assist You Gauge the Worth of Your Antique Sterling Silver

If you’ve recently purchased a set of antique silver or inherited some pieces, you’re probably wondering if what you have is valuable. The good news is that no matter what type of silver you have, you do have pieces that will look great, even if they’re tarnished now. The bad news is that these pieces may not actually be worth as much as you’d like. In order to gauge how much your silver is worth, there are a few things you have to determine.

Silver Items

Is it Real Silver?

The first thing to determine when approximating your antique silver’s worth is whether or not what you have is actually real silver. If it is, you do have valuable pieces. If it’s not, you have some pieces that look great but aren’t worth as much. In order to determine this, you need to clean up the pieces using tarnish remover or one of the many home solutions out there.

Sterling Silver

Now you want to carefully search the piece for specific markings. If you can’t find any, what you have is likely silverplate. It looks nice, but it’s not true silver. Instead, it’s something such as copper that has been plated with a thin coat of silver. If the piece is fairly lightweight, that’s another sign that it’s plated.

If, on the other hand, you find the word “Sterling” stamped on the item, then you do have a piece of sterling silver.

Look for Additional Markings

Antique marking

If your piece was made after 1850 in the U.S., it will be marked with one of three things. The first is simply the word Sterling. It may also be marked as .925 or as 925/1000. If it’s simply Sterling, you likely have a piece that is pure silver. If you find one of the two numbers, then what you have is 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper.

Very Old Pieces

Old silver piece

If you believe you have true antique sterling silver that was made before 1850, it won’t have a mark on it. However, there is something you can do to test it. You’ll need to consult with a silver expert, though. These professionals can do an acid test that will show if the piece is true silver or not. Don’t attempt to do any type of testing on your own—you could damage your piece, decreasing its value!

Determining the Pattern

If you find that your piece does have a silver mark on it, you can search online to see if you can determine the manufacturer or the pattern. This can take some time, but there are a number of websites out there that include many high resolution images of different silver patterns that you can compare yours to. You may even get lucky and find a hallmark on the silver. This is a small image used by the manufacturer to mark the piece. A quick online search should tell you who that manufacturer was, making your task much easier.

Silver Pattern

Of course, you can always take your piece to a silver professional. These experts will be able to help you quickly determine the value of your pieces.