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What’s It Worth?


If you watch Antiques Roadshow on PBS, then you probably, the second an item is introduced, start guessing what it’s worth. My wife and I play this game to see how close we can come to what the expert appraises the item for at the end of the segment.  Patrice seems to think the uglier the item is, the more likely it is to be rare and valuable.  I, on the other hand, get sucked in by the stories about how Uncle Frank brought this ceremonial mask back from Timbuktu at the turn of the century after saving the King’s  life.

Many times I’m left a bit baffled when the value is given, because it usually comes off as a very vague guess. Saying that Uncle Frank’s treasure is worth between 1200 and 1600 dollars to me is not unlike a car salesman remarking that I can buy that new car for between 20 and 30 thousand. I’d kind of like to know a closer number, although I understand it is hard to pin down at times.

We are always making the rounds of the assorted antique stores and shows in the area and there are some items that we have been looking at for years – and the price has never changed! One would hope the seller would eventually realize that if they want to sell their item, some adjustment is coming to have to be made in terms of price.

Auctions are one of the best ways to determine value. If the auctioneer has done their job right, then they’ve assembled a knowledgeable group of potential bidders and the winning bid will determine what the value was on that given day.

A willing seller and a willing buyer is what it takes to make a deal and determine a price.  I’ve talked to many people who will say, “You know, down at the Widget Shop they said my widget was worth $100. So you should get that much for it!”

I always ask back, “Well, did they offer to buy it from you for $100?”  Of course, the answer is no. So maybe that widget really wasn’t worth, at least at that time, the price they were quoted.

What’s it worth? It’s worth what someone will pay. Period.

Hope to see you soon,

Terry Mangum – Auctioneer

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