What’s It Worth?
Having a blog that is well entrenched into the Google search results leads a lot of new site visitors here that send me photos of their items asking, “what is the value of this antique?” The problem is, it depends where they would be selling it, when they’d be selling it (the luck factor of who is in the market at the time), and how long they’d be willing to wait for their price. All you need is two bidders to show up to the party that REALLY want the item to make the price $1,000 instead of $300. The ebonized, Aesthetic cabinet above is a case-in-point. It has been on Ebay for a week and has seen 32 bids – 22 are from the same 2 bidders.
Had the second rabid bidder not shown up to the party, the other top bidder would have possibly scored the cabinet for only $300 (the bid just above the third highest bidder). However, due to the presence of two parties that REALLY want it, it has been bid up to $1,000 as of this writing. They have been battling it out for 4 days and with four hours left, I am betting that the battle will continue.
This just goes to show you that putting a price on a piece of history is subjective and can be way off (above or below) the actual selling price because who knows who will show up to the party. This is also why valuing items with a range based on historical results is much more realistic than throwing out a single number. So many of the people that ask me what something is worth tell me that “so-and-so valued it at $10,000 five years ago”. Is that an auction estimate? Retail estimate? Insurance estimate? They don’t say. The other variable in providing value estimates is shelf-life. A valuation from five years ago isn’t necessarily accurate to what it would be worth today.
Anyway, back to the cabinet at-hand – which by the way, a Kimbel and Cabus attribution is being given on this item by the seller. I think it is a great example of the problem with providing antique values. You never know…