Eight Generally Inherited Objects Price Nearly Nothing
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Inheriting a house full of objects is usually the end of a long and emotional journey. In these moments, the treasures passed on to us take on a whole new meaning and value.
Unfortunately, many of the things we inherit have limited resale values. In my 20 year career as a professional reseller, I’ve seen people struggle to let go of items for a tiny fraction of what they were once worth.
Still, having a clear view of the resale market can make liquidating an estate easier. It helps set expectations and allows friends and family to focus on treasured, valuable pieces.
With that in mind (and with the understanding that every market is different), here are some commonly inherited items that are worth next to nothing:
1. Silver-plated cutlery
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However, beautiful silver-plated cutlery sets are difficult to sell. Buyers don’t want to spend time polishing the silver before and after large family meals.
Individual forks and spoons in antique stores typically sell for a dollar or two. The main buyers of these pieces are jewelry makers and artisans who transform the ornate handles into cuff bracelets, rings and key chains.
Professional type: Check out how to tell the difference between silver plates and sterling silver. Sterling has a market of its own, and complete flatware sets contain enough silver to be valuable by weight alone.
For more tips, see “The Smart Way to Sell Family Silver for Cash”.
2. Large pieces of furniture
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In the estate liquidation, wooden stalls, sideboards and formal dining room sets are collectively referred to as “Big Browns”. Notoriously difficult to sell, these large pieces can linger in consignment stores for years.
More mobile than previous generations, young buyers simply don’t want bulky pieces of furniture. Instead, they prefer small pieces of furniture that are easy to move and multifunctional.
But seller, take courage! Antique wardrobes are an important exception to this rule. Wardrobes are popular in apartments and condominiums with limited storage space. Other buyers use them as entertainment and game centers.
3. Formal china sets
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Lifestyles change. Though hard to admit, there is a very limited market for Grandma’s precious wedding china.
Today’s homeowners no longer talk like our parents and grandparents do. Meetings are usually smaller and less formal. Therefore, a single, neutral tableware is preferred to a five-piece place setting with a matching sauce and teapot.
4. Mass produced collectibles
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Collectibles rarely have their long-term value. Tastes change, collectors die and hot markets cool down. Here are some of the most common collectibles that are worth next to nothing today:
- Souvenir thimbles
- Souvenir miniature spoons
- Memorial plaques
- Beanie babies
- Hummel figurines
- Precious moments figures
- Longaberger baskets
5. Avon perfume bottles
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While technically a collector’s item, vintage Avon bottles deserve a category of their own. The sheer volume of figural cologne bottles the company sells means most households have at least some lying around.
But the market stinks (pun intended) for vintage Avon. With the exception of the 32-piece chess set (which can sell for up to $ 279.99 on eBay), most Avon bottles are worth nothing.
6. Many kinds of crystals
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A quick review of completed eBay listings shows that most lead crystals simply won’t sell. This is due to a change in taste and lifestyle. Like silver, crystal must be hand washed and carefully cleaned to keep the pieces looking their best.
But before donating your grandparents’ precious crystal collection, be sure to double-check the labels. Crystal pieces from these manufacturers are bucking the trend and selling well:
- Costa Boda
7. Most books
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The last estate sale I went on was $ 2 a box (and the boxes were large). Expect similar prices for inherited books unless they fall into one of these categories:
- First edition: Depending on the popularity of the book and the author, first prints can be more valuable. Unsure about a book? How to recognize a first edition.
- Signed by the author: Again, depending on the popularity of the book, signed copies may have a higher value.
- Decorative: Leather-bound and antique books with decorative covers sell well. Homeowners and interior designers use them as accent pieces.
8. Contemporary Christmas decorations
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Although the price of new Christmas decorations is increasing every year, the market for used items is stingy. Expect to sell inherited man-made trees, ornaments, and pieces of garden decor for a little more than a lump of coal.
One ray of hope: there is a strong collector’s market for antique Christmas and Halloween items. In 2020 I bought an old paper mache Halloween lantern for $ 9. Within a few days, I sold it to a collector for $ 235.
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