When a beloved family member passes away or someone just had to move and decided to gift you a collection of their prized possessions, it can often be overwhelming. While the collection may be of interest to you or not, the emotional significance can often make it hard to know what to do.
We're going to show you a few simple steps you can take when inheriting a collection to help determine the actual value and provide the knowledge to make the best choice for your situation.
Do your own research
Often, the way to get started on your own is to research online to get a sense of the value of the collection. Sites such as eBay have features to help research the price of the collection based on the typical selling price of the items or something similar. Some search engines also have selling features so you could also put in your items to get a ballpark figure for the value.
There are also online valuation sites that will give an estimate based on a photo and description that you provide. These sites may charge a fee for this service, but in some cases, it may be worth the cost to give you the information you need.
If you prefer not to go online, your local library will often have lots of resources to search the value as well, including catalogs and books about collecting a number of items. Librarians can be an invaluable resource in helping you identify helpful books and other information.
Authenticate and Appraise
If you decide that the collection has value, it may be worth reaching out to an authentication service. A certificate of authenticity is vital for things like jewelry, artwork, and autographs. This document certifies that your object is authentic. Typically, you would find a professional authenticator that specializes in the items you are interested in obtaining the value.
You may also want to consider going to a certified professional appraiser. Among the top organizations that specialize in professional appraisers are:
- The American Society of Appraisers
- The Appraisers Association of America
- The International Society of Appraisers
Another suggestion to find an appraiser is to reach out to your bank or estate attorneys who may have experience with appraisers for certain items.
A typical appraisal report will include an explanation of how the collection was appraised and its current value. It should be noted that professional appraisals can have high relative costs, but if the collection has potential value and you want to sell it, knowing its true value could help you from selling something under the price of its actual worth.
Look into consignment arrangements
If you decide to sell your collection, you may consider a consignment arrangement in which items are sold through a third party, most often a store. The consignment store or individual consign would then receive a percentage of the profits or a straight commission.
You would not make as much as if you would have sold the collection on your own because of the commission. However, a consignment store or consign would typically have knowledge about the actual worth of the collection and may have contact lists who would be interested in purchasing it.
It's important to check the reputation of a store or individual before getting into any agreement. Some ways to do this is if it's a business, check with the Better Business Bureau and online business review sites. If you know people who collect the items you want to sell, ask them if they know the business or individual.
Again, evaluating the value of the collection and time you want to invest in marketing the items to potential buyers will help you make the best decision for your circumstance.
When in Doubt, Store the Collection
Valuations of collectables go up and down over time based on the economy and interest of the items at any given time. You might have inherited a collection of cards and comics in the 1990's when the market fell. But by the next decade, prices went up as demand increased.
Perhaps the best move you can make is to wait and store the collection. For certain items it is important that they be stored in the correct conditions or they may lose value. Your answer as to whether it is feasible for your situation will determine whether this is the best option for your circumstance.
For more on personal finance topics
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We hope you found this helpful. This article is based on information available in December 2023 and is subject to change. It is provided as a convenience and for general information purposes only. Our content is not intended to provide legal, tax, investment, or financial advice or to indicate that a particular TD Bank or third-party product or service is available or right for you.
For specific advice about your unique circumstances, consider talking with a qualified professional.