AT Inbox: What are safe and cost-effective places to sell antiques and collectibles?


Read your article online and would like to say there are listed people who sell for others on eBay. They are trading assistants and most are reputable. You can always check up on them to see their rating.

I have done this many times for friends and others.


Ed Brooks

Hi Robyn,

I also have a lot of collectibles, dolls, action figures, vases, etc., and I know first of all you really have to find out how much each item is worth. And I would also like to know how to do this without cost. I know that you can put the item description on eBay or perhaps Google it. Then some cities have buildings that each person can display their item’s for sale for paying a price for each booth rented. Sort of like renting a booth in a beauty salon.

I will be watching for people’s information on this, as I would like to know more also.

Rachael Martinez

Try They don’t buy, just tell what is worth (ballpark?).

Hope this helps.


First, I would recommend that the person go to a site that would help them value the pieces they have to sell. Do a little research and find out what you have as opposed to just throwing it out there. One such site is Priceminer has over 20 million records of prices realized that can help you figure out what you have, how much it is selling for and its sophisticated tools allow you to look at the trends of the piece. 

Another good site is You can either post the piece on a blog to the community or you can ask a worthologist (who are experts in their fields) to help you. If you have a lot of items, they have specialists that will not only help you value the pieces, but will also help you get them to the best auction house. Each worthologist is screened and signs a code of ethics which states that they are not allowed to buy anything they appraise. I hope this helps!

Kathy Kamnikar

This is a tough question in this day and age, especially selling furniture and heavy items. Here is how I handled a similar situation. For heavy items – furniture, heavy crocks, or other difficult to package/or too expensive to ship – I checked out area auctioneers (within a 90-mile radius), found one I trusted and who did a good business and consigned my items.This particular auctioneer was very honest and told me what his company could make money selling and what I was better off selling myself (I greatly appreciated this).

One thing I learned, many of the things I inherited came from Maine and Pennsylvania (such items sell better where they are from), not in N.C. where I live. Not having dabbled in the auction market prior to 9 months ago, I do not know if this is a new development or not, but you can get really good deals as a buyer (things you can flip for a profit on eBay), but unless you have something really desirable, you will not make a lot of money at auction. Another item to be aware of is that someone has to pay the auctioneer:either the seller – up to 30-40 percent or the buyer (buyer’s premium) – usually it is a combo of the two – so check out what percentage the auctioneer will keep from the sale of your items.

Other items I sold on eBay. Yes it is risky, but also I found this to be the most lucrative (although labor intensive for me). It is amazing, some things I thought were not valuable brought in more money that I ever would have imagined, while other things that I thought would bring in money did not (see note below about items that used to be valuable collectibles have depreciated due to over supply in market).

I have met many wonderful customers that I still stay in touch with and who have touched my heart. In over 250 transactions, I have only had one customer from hell. eBay is riskier these days because sellers cannot leave negative feedback. After my difficult customer situation, I got so frustrated with eBay’s lack of support, I tried selling on iOffer, Blujay and Ecrater and found there although people looked, no one purchased – eBay has the market!

One word of caution, many of the items that were valuable and rare collectibles 30-40 years ago have flooded the market (i.e. china, depression glass, coins, Hummels, etc.). Basically what I learned (painfully in some circumstances) is: an item is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it at any given time. Good Luck!

Susan Hudson

If the items are true collectibles, contact you local antique store. You often find helpful people there, and they sometimes buy the whole lot, or have the items appraised by a GCA (graduate certified appraiser). They can give you a general idea of how much an item is worth but be aware there is a difference in insurance value (that would be the cost if you would have to replace an item today) or resell value over an auction (dealers buy in auctions and they make a living of the profit). If you bring your items to a reputable auction house, they usually get the most out for your items. If you are familiar with eBay, you can sell items there but don’t expect a huge profit anymore. A great side is also Ruby Lane, but items have to be true antiques or collectibles and you do have to have an extensive knowledge about the items you are listing. Another great option is to hire a person that runs an online store and let them list the items for you (there are eBay stores or online specialty stores that can do that for you and it really saves a lot of time).


Lynda Koch

I feel there are several good venues for selling these items. I am the owner of a small mall. I have a handful of dealers and many consignors. I have people walking in and calling on a regular basis wanting to sell their items. I only buy occasionally but always point out to these people that I can only offer a small fraction of the value because of my overhead. However, if they are willing to wait, I will consign the items and that will yield a higher payout to the owner than selling to me, and often to any other dealer as I do offer a low commission.

I did sell on eBay for many years but like many of the old sellers, find that the bids are to inconsistent. Getting top price is contingent on having the right buyer find my item on the right day. I have seen identical items sell for a pittance on one listing and go over a hundred for another. Only explanation is that it’s a matter of who looks on a given day!

As of Jan. 1 this year, I have joined the sellers on This has been great for me. Instead of the buyer setting the price, I am able to set my price, just as I do in the mall. I can apply discounts, and run sales and special offers. Just like eBay, Ruby Lane allows me to take my merchandise out of my local area, which does include good tourist traffic, and show it to the whole world. I find that sales have been consistent and I get my best price every day because my items can sit, just like on a shelf, until the right buyer comes along.

If eBay is the chosen venue and the seller is novice and doesn’t want to take on this challenge, there are eBay stores in most towns anymore. I live in a town of 2,300 and even we have one. You do give some of the sale to the person performing this service, but most of these stores do the same research as I would do as they too want to get the best commission possible.

In my opinion, the worst thing these potential sellers can do is to try to sell them for top dollar at yard and rummage sales. I have seen this done a lot lately and it is often a disaster as people just aren’t usually willing to pay top dollar at these sales.

Marcia Bradley
FB Antiques
Chamberlain, SD


I’m an avid collector and have collected for many years. Based on my experiences, I would recommend contacting a knowledgeable friend or antique dealer and ask their opinions on items you might want to sell. Then, if you are still interested in selling your items, contact a trustworthy and knowledgeable firm that handles tagged estate sales. If you are inexperienced, I would not recommend listing on eBay. Also, proceed with great care if you opt for a garage sale or auction. Contact your local Questers group for obtaining the name of trustworthy antique dealers in your area.

Best regards,


Hi Robyn,

It seems as though I hear this question daily. I appraise antiques and residential contents. I receive calls from individuals thinking they need an appraisal to learn the value of their items. Not so. They just need informed sales advisory that is ethical and correct for the relevant market. The value opinion of the appraiser usually comes with many years of market knowledge and can often be performed without extensive research. An appraisal is really a legal document for a specific purpose, and as such, more involved and expensive.

I will frequently involve my client in doing research to save them fees, if they want. Sometimes they just need to know what the item(s) are (readily apparent identity) to begin their own research to establish valuation. The client must realize that an item selling for $50 in an antique store, will usually not bring that much in a yard sale or other places. I like to provide them with what I call a dealer buy and sell price. Usually somewhere in the middle lies reality for someone wanting to sell something on their own.

Potential clients should be aware that receiving this type of advice will cost them a little bit. Most find that they would have sold the items for much less without sales advice. They should understand that an appraiser cannot give sales advice and then be the buyer or receive items valued instead of payment. People can become victimized by anyone posing to be an appraiser while actually being a buyer in disguise.

 Professional appraisers belong to appraisal societies such as AAA, ASA, ISA or ANA, just to identify a few. The appraisers know the ethical rules as well as values. They should also be USPAP compliant or even better, certified. USPAP is a standard of ethical conduct and competency required by professional appraisal organizations. A quick online search for “USPAP” and the name of the appraisal organization will confirm the appraisers status. This is a “must do” to be on the safe side. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Thank you for the opportunity to respond.
Terry D. Sonntag, Accredited Member
International Society of Appraisers (ISA)
Appraisers National Association  (ANA)
Santa Clarita, CA