From the AT Staff: A question of value

Karen KnapsteinHow much is it worth? In a collectibles-related career like mine, I hear this question almost daily. Whether the collectible area in question is baseball cards, books, ephemera, stamps, toys or antiques in general — no matter what the collecting interest is — it’s a frequent query.

My friend “Anne” (I’ve changed her name because she’s very shy) has several jewelry armoires filled to overflowing with old jewelry. Of the pieces that I’ve seen, none would be considered “valuable” in the monetary sense by anyone other than her. There are many broken pieces, many pieces that are pitted and missing parts, and even odd bits and fragments that she either can’t or won’t part with. To her, though they are mostly made up of steel, plastic and rhinestones, they are valuable, and she handles them all with reverence. You see, they are most of what she has left of her mother’s and sister’s estates.

Her mother and sister — her sister, especially — were costume jewelry fanatics. Her mother would spend weekends visiting garage and yard sales, picking up “gems” literally for nickels and dimes. Her sister always seemed to have an outstanding order with her Avon representative. And, of course, they frequently received costume jewelry as gifts because everyone knew they liked the wearable bric-a-brac.

antique costume jewelryThe result is Anne’s massive collection of Avon, Hobe, Sarah Coventry, Coro, Park Lane and, of course, dozens and dozens of other marked and unmarked pieces, many neglected and most “out of fashion.” All together, the monetary value of her collection is probably slightly more than the proverbial “hill of beans,” but when she looks back through old family photos, and spots a certain piece of jewelry adding that finishing touch to her loved one’s “outfit,” it adds another dimension to her memories and a stronger connection with the past.

How much is that connection with loved ones who are no longer with us worth?

I have many antiques from relatives who have passed. Some I have purchased; others were given to me. Are they valuable? In the monetary sense, some are, but most are not. But they are all invaluable to me because of that connection with the previous owners.

The connection with the past: Isn’t that one of the reasons we love antiques so much, and what gives many of our own antiques added value?

This week, Antique Trader wants to know: Do you have an item that is valuable only to you, or that you are simply not willing to part with?

Let us know by emailing, or visit the Antique Trader blog, find the Question of the Week, and post a reply there.