What Determines The Value In An Antique?

What determines the value in an antique? This question explores what determines the value of antiques. "The rarity and condition of antiques determine their value," says 2nd Time Around Antique Mall owner...

"The rarity and condition of antiques determine their value," says 2nd Time Around Antique Mall owner Claudia Reese of Twin Falls, Idaho, who has been studying, buying, and selling antiques for 20 years. "Basically, condition is the important thing; condition means everything," she notes.


Condition is especially important to book collectors. Books autographed by the author have an increased value. A dedication copy, which has been signed for the person to whom the book is dedicated, is the most valuable. When an author signed a book to a personal friend or family member, it is called a presentation copy, and that is the next in value. Next in value are inscribed copies where people have stood in line at bookstores to have a book signed for themselves or someone special. First editions and first printings have greater value than later editions and printings. Book club editions, books with dust jackets taped on, and ex-library books are of no value to collectors. Leather bound sets of classic titles sell most often to decorators and not book collectors. With children's books, the value increases if the book is still read and loved. Collectors pay top dollar for first edition children's books by top authors and illustrators.




Condition is also vital to toy collectors. Top dollar goes for examples that are mint which means both the toy and the original packaging are like new. The next highest values go to toys in very good condition, which is defined as being slightly worn. Then come toys in good condition, which means they show some wear and don't have their original packaging. The lowest value is for toys that are worn through play.

Doll collectors also use condition when placing values, with rarity in second place. Composition or papier-mâché dolls in perfect condition are very rare, and they're priced accordingly. Bisque dolls with closed mouths are less common, and more valuable, than bisque dolls with open mouths. Replaced legs and other parts are acceptable if they are from the same vintage, but replacements do lower the value. A damaged original wig is worth more than a neat replacement. Any doll with original clothing is worth more than an undressed one, and tiny accessories such as shoes add even more to the value. Original packaging also increases the value.

Items with verified ties to historical figures greatly increase in value. A good example of the importance of a link to a famous person was evident in the auctions of possessions owned by Jackie Kennedy Onassis.

Market demand plays a vital role in values, too. Items relating to the British royal family greatly increased in value following the death of Princess Diana in 1997. Within a few years interest, and values, in this collecting field dropped.

Other considerations are the era of the collection and the age of the collector. As the population ages, less people remember early television shows such as I Love Lucy and Captain Kangaroo. Since people tend to collect their childhood memories that means there are fewer collectors for early television show items. It also means that more people are selling their collections from this era, and a plentiful supply always lowers values. Toys and other memorabilia from television shows that people from ages 35 to 55 remember well are the most sought after by collectors.

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