The art of letting go: Advice for auctioning

An Antiques Roadshow appraiser shares advice for auctioning antiques, collectibles and sentimental items.

It is always challenging to let go of treasured antique items in our households that have been passed down from generation to generation. While antiques might hold sentimental value, decluttering the home and parting ways with objects that no longer serve a practical use or bring us joy will create a sense of liberation. Whether you are downsizing or a relative has died and their items need to be handled, Amanda Everard from Everard Auctions & Appraisals offers her advice on handling this tricky process.

Contact your family

Before speaking to a professional, the first step is to talk with family first. Ask family members to come to the house and pick out their desired items. It can be anything from silverware to paintings. 

Call an auctioneer or appraiser

Before having an auctioneer or appraiser visit the house and assess the value of the items, it is recommended to send pictures. This allows them to determine if coming to the house for an in-house evaluation is worthwhile. Additionally you can inquire if they offer services like walk-through verbal valuations, as Everard Auctions and Appraisals does. According to its website, this service can help with family property division and provide an understanding of the current market value of your estate or collection.

After item valuation

Once an auctioneer or appraiser has come through the house, the next step is to decide what should be sold. Everard has what she calls a “tiered approach,” organizing items into three tiers: 

Tier 1: Items for auction

Tier 2: Estate sale or consignment store items

Tier 3: Donation items

Everard suggests asking yourself the following questions:

Do you use it? If you enjoy it, keep it. If you’re storing it under the bed, it just doesn’t make sense to keep it. Is it worth moving from point A to point B? Moving costs are expensive. Has your sentimental attachment to an item become a burden?  If so, let it go.

Letting go

After you have decided to pass on an item, write up the history of that item; and if provenance information can be provided, add those files and receipts to the history.

This can be helpful information when determining value as well as educating the item’s next owners. A few things to remember when parting with old valuables: it is about finding the balance between your present well-being and future aspirations.

The memories of the items will last forever as long as you cherish them in your heart and let the physical item travel through the hands of others who will enjoy it.

Recent auction items: 

1. Sanford Robinson Gifford painting: American, 1823-1880; Hudson River Scenery, oil on canvas on board

Sanford Robinson Gifford was one of the finest artists from the Hudson River School. His paintings are known for their emphasis on light and soft atmospheric effects that can be seen in this painting. It was inherited in the mid-1940s from an American art collector in New Jersey, then by descent to the current owner. 

Sold: $35,000

2. Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio autographed baseball

The Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio signed ball is unusual, as Mantle and DiMaggio were not fond of each other and would not sign the same items. The owner of the baseball produced collectible porcelain plates with sports figures on them which he sold to sports memorabilia collectors. He asked each of them to sign the ball as a gift to his daughter.

Sold: $1,600

3. Thomas Chippendale Jr. settee

The Chippendale settee captured Amanda Everard’s attention during a visit to a client’s house. After further examination Everard discovered that the settee was an 18th-century masterpiece attributed to Thomas Chippendale Jr. Crafted from stained beechwood, it would have originally been painted or gilded, adding to its timeless appeal.

Sold: $5,000

4. Howard Finster art: GA, 1916-2001, Mr. Coke, mixed media

This piece came from an estate outside of Metter, Georgia, that contained a big collection of Outsider Art. The deceased was friends with many of the artists whose work he had collected. Mr. Coke is a signed piece that was dedicated to the owner on the lower right. This piece featured a large, multicolored painted bottle with a face and a cap that reads “Mr Coke Top Is As High As You Can Go” and a label that reads “Big Coke.” 

Sold: $2,100

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