Selling & Pricing Your Collectible Merchandise
Many collectibles, along with other new and like-new merchandise, are offered for sale at Arden's General Store. Frequently visitors to this site will send inquiries offering to sell their collectibles, or asking how to set a price or value on them.
I would first like to make clear that I do not purchase collectibles or merchandise for resale, and I do not value such items. Most of the items I offer for sale were owned by me for some time, although some have been taken on consignment from reputable sources. Just about everything I know about the type of collectibles I offer is displayed with the offer to sell it.
Pricing Your Merchandise
Whether you have an antique, a collectible item, or some unused merchandise in its original wrapper, setting a value or pricing the item is baiscally the sameeither you spend a lot of time searching the Internet or you hire an appraiser.
On the assumption you are not planning to hire an appraiser, the only other way I am aware of is by searching the Internet. This is not usually a quick operation. I spent many days searching the Internet for each collectible before pricing my merchandise. Some things can be found quickly, others take a great deal of time and patience before determining the comparability of competing offers and the price range for the same or a similar item being offered.
The amount of searching you will have to do will depend on the item you are trying to value. The first thing you have to do is determine the quality of the item you are offering. This should be an objective opinion, and should not be colored by your emotional attachment to something that belonged to your great-grandmother. If it was her favorite dish, but was broken and glued back together, it may have great sentimental value to you, but be worthless to a collector. On the other hand, if it looks like new, it may have great value to a collector. The type of item itself, its rarity, and its collectibility will also affect probable value. A highly sought-after item in less than perfect condition may be worth much, but a perfect piece that is quite common may not be worth the postage to ship it.
The value of many books can be quite easily determined, especially those with ISBN numbers. You can simply browse to a book-seller such as Amazon.com, enter the ISBN #, and find many books of the same title in varying conditions being offered and the asking prices for them.
To determine the value of an old postage stamp, you first need to determine the Scott's catalog number. Any stamp that is less than 100 years old, and is not a misprint, almost certainly must be in mint condition. You can go to a search engine, such as Google.com, and start searching, or find a stamp company that offers a free catalog. Get the free catalog, look up your stamps, and set a price.
Antique china is an entirely different matter. If the china has manufacturer's identification imprinted, half the battle is over. If there is no ID, the search is much more time consuming. I spent a couple of weeks valuing the Antique Japanese Kutani offered on this site.
Searching for Comparable Offerings
You can go to an auction site, such as eBay, or got to a search service, such as Google, or do both.
An auction site is basically only good to learn what the starting bid is, and any bids that may have been received. Neither is a good indication of value, but can be used as a starting point, or as the minimum price you would ask.
A search engine can return many more firm offerings, and a comparison of those offerings can give you a good idea of what items similar to yours are being offered and how they compare to the piece you have. Although I personally utilize primarily Google (www.google.com) to do my searching, I am not endorsing them or claiming they are the best. Browse to Google, select their Advanced Search, and begin your search. This, too, is not necessarily an easy beginning. It is best to keep the search term(s) simple to start. The more common your item is, the more complex you may have to make your search.
The less familiar you are with the collectible you are valuing, the more you have to learn about it before you even start determining a value. For example, I offer Japanese Kutani. I first searched for "Kutani", browsed through many sites describing the various types of antique Japanese china, read many pages on many Web sites, and finally felt that I knew a little about the beast I was dealing with. In Google's Advanced Search, you have several options in which to enter your search terms. I usually stick with the first two: "with all of the words" and "with the exact phrase".
I may start with the first selection and, using Kutani as the example, enter Japanese Kutani antique china teapot. This is telling the search engine that any site that is found must contain all of those words, but that they do not have to be in any specific order. If the result of the search turns up 250,000 links to pages, you know that you will have to refine your search! The next search in the same field could be "Japanese Kutani" teapot. This is telling the search enging that the words "Japanese Kutani" must be in that exact order, but that somewhere in the site "teapot" must also be found. This will reduce the number of links in the results. To further reduce the number of results, I might simply enter Japanese Kutani teapot in the "with the exact phrase" search field. This, then, tells the search engine that those three words, in that exact order, must be included in the results displayed.
Depending on the results of the above searching, different variations and refinements in the search terms may be employed.
Key Elements for Searching
The simpler you can make your search terms, the more likely you will be to get results. Add more words to reduce the number of pages that are found when a search is performed, and to get more specific results. If you have two or more of the item you are searching for, use the singular not the plural of the term. For example, if you have "cups" you want to value, search for "cup", not "cups". The term "cup" will find a page with the word "cups" on it, but the term "cups" will not necessarily find a page with only the word "cup" on it. Of course, you can use both search terms cup cups and you will find more pages. Do not use the search term cup and cups or the search engine will list pages containig the word "and" in the results, and you can imagine how many pages have that word on it!
Of course, I would not expect anyone to search for "cups"; this is given solely as an example.
I hope this helps you in some way to value your precious collectibles.
©2006 R. Arden Johnson