Monday 24 September 2012

Antique shop prices . . . think of a number

We had a little wander around the antique shops in town this morning, just window-shopping. These days, the antiques shops are often set ups where lots of different dealers rent a space (according to their pocket) and stock it with what they think will attract a buyer.  In an ideal world, we'd do this too, but we can't afford take a chance on paying a regular rental and perhaps not selling anything for weeks.

Anyway, we had a wander round and there was only one piece of Torquay pottery - a big mug with a good long motto on the back, but at £25 I felt it was all the money and more, and think it's probably a good few pounds more than it's worth in the current market.  Sometimes items for sale are old stock, bought at the top of the market a few years back, which still haven't sold and I can quite understand folk not wanting to sell stuff for half of what they paid for it!

There was a rather battered copy of Eden Phillpotts' "Widecombe Fair" too. As I picked it up part of the spine fell off (that sort of battered condition). That was priced at £10 and bears absolutely no resemblence to general market value (which would be £3 or so in good condition).  I collect Eden Phillpotts and would have bought it at a sensible price, but this was obviously one of those "Oh it's old so it must be valuable" pricing decisions.  Personally, I do my research before I, say, list anything on e-bay where if it's that much over-priced it just won't sell. 

I have decided to sell my collection of Portmeirion pottery (wedding gifts originally) as after having them wrapped up for 3 years, and now collecting the Torquay pottery in its various guises, I far prefer the Torquay pieces and would rather put the money from the Portmeirion into some good pieces for my collection.  I did my research - found out prices new, saw what they went for on e-bay (where there will be P&P on top) and priced them at e-bay prices and they will later be offered for sale on there if I don't shift them locally.  Several women have picked them up, saw my marked price, and despite my offer of a very good deal if they wanted to buy the set of bowls or plates, they loftily remarked that they are "over priced".  It's that old car boot sale ethic - if you're trying to sell at a car boot sale, then you have to do so at give-away prices, even if what you are offering is desirable, yet in a shop setting, it's often "think of a number" . . . Everyone has different levels of knowledge - if it's something a dealer has never come across before, they may price it high and hope to be lucky.  Sometimes the price is a blistering one from sheer ignorance, but on the odd occasion we have picked up a bargain because it's in our area of expertise!

Ah well, we came home empty-handed but I did buy myself a pretty little circular wicker basket with handle yesterday at the boot sale (for blackberrying), and I was given a water-damaged (as in it was still soaking wet!) beautifully-embroidered picture when I expressed an interest in it.  I have it currently soaking in Ariel and hoping I can get the dirty marks out and the mould just starting to form on one corner.


  1. I really think that Flog It, Bargain Hunt, Put your money where your mouth is and such like have altered peoples' ideas about antiques. Now they see dealers as fair game and would never give the price shown. Sometimes things are overpriced but that is not always the case and so people like you suffer BB.

  2. We do better, tbh, if we do a Fleammarket, Weaver, as if people have to pay to get into a venue, they then automatically think that the items for sale are somehow worth buying! It's a different mindset amongst the buyers - car booters always seem to want something for nothing. We still have SO much stuff that we won't need to take with us when we downsize and really need to cull some more china. We have been collecting things for so long, and having a huge house to put them out in on display, it will come as a shock when we can't unpack them let alone display them once we move! Some things I still can't bring myself to part with though.

    I agree with you about the tv programmes though - they give people a false idea of values. We've even had people say to us at the Fleamarkets, that they've seen the mark up on tv and want to be "done the same sort of deal"!

  3. I do find that 'old so it must be worth something' attitude irritating. Agree with Weaver about the TV programmes. Everyone thinks they're an expert these days. The celebrity ones are even worse. Sounds like the flea markets are a far better bet. We have a really good one in Chagford every Friday, but then you probably know that. There's an excuse to pop down for the day!

  4. Em - I didn't know that . . . and now the knowledge is almost temptation beyond endurance! Perhaps if I have some good sales on e-bay we can get our one-day holiday this year! I'd planned a jaunt whilst D was away, but that was when money was at a low ebb - typically : )

  5. Most of my 'antiques' are family bits and pieces--homey, rather worn items treasured for their connections.
    There is a outlet called Peddler's Mall nearby which is one of those where various sellers rent a space. Some are very attractively arranged with a nice assortment or a specialty of vintage goods. Others are a hodge-podge of garage sale junk. Still a few others have some items that might be interesting but one would have to wallow through risking breakage to get closer to a particular item.
    We are most familiar with old farm implements and hand tools [Jim] and I with kitchen ware and textiles of a certain era. If we buy at all it is something of interest in a lower price range--not usually something with resale or investment value.
    I can understand asking a dealer if the tagged price is 'your best price'--haggling or insulting the owner seems like purely bad manners to me.

  6. Why don't you use an actual auction house? Particularly if you have sets of things. Is it the costs that put you off?

  7. AJ - prices are on the ground right now unless you're selling stuff at the top end of the market. Plus the auction houses charge 15% (plus VAT) of the sale price for their "costs". Buyers pay a premium of a similar amount or more, so the auction house ends up with a third of everything sold . . . If we are selling good furniture, it goes in a catalogued sale and then we have to pay for the catalogue photograph too, and if it's too big an item to fit in the back of the car, there's a further £25 or so to collect the item. With the china, my Portmeirion would sell reasonably, but by the time I've got the deductions off - it's e-bay for me I think!

    MM - the rented spaces round here are all carefully laid out. No piles of stuff to sift through - the spaces come dear (£30 - £50 or so a week, depending on which location/how much room you rent) so everything is normally well laid out to entice a buyer. Nearly all the prices have one nought on the end. . . Some dealers specialize in say, a certain period (say, Art Deco) or furniture, or books or tools or china or glass. Others are an amalgamation of all sorts.