Whenever clients have asked me what they might do with their silver, crystal and other collections, I’ve always been stumped!
I’ve read that crystal, silver and pewter don’t command the prices they used to, but this field is so specialised that I feel that the area of antiques and collectibles requires specialist advice.
Which is where Doug Mulley comes in. He runs Canberra Antiques Centre and is a font of knowledge about the types of objects which sell and those which don’t sell in today’s marketplace.
I visited his shop last Friday, where I happened to see a beautiful table from one of my past clients and a whole range of Art deco objects, Victoriana, jewellery, figurines and ephemera. He very generously imparted the following guidance for the types of objects I commonly see in client houses.
Silver, Crystal and Pewter
There is a large volume of these objects in people’s homes and on the second hand market, but Doug says that there are objects within this category which are more valuable than others.
For example, he finds there is a big difference in the value of sterling silver and the value of silver plate. Again, this can depend on the object, sterling silver sells much better than silver plate objects.
Retro furniture, in other words, Parker, Scandinavian style furniture, and other 1950’s to 1970’s furniture with a distinctive, eye catching “look”, does really well. Victorian style furniture, on the other hand, is very hard to on-sell. Apart from some retro pieces, Doug finds that there is almost no interest in dining chairs, tables and sideboards. However, due to Canberrans being keen book buyers, bookcases can do well in our local market.
Ceramics and Glass
People commonly underestimate the value of “Aunt Maude’s ceramic koala”, for example. Distinctive ceramic and glass objects may be thought of as unattractive by their current owners, but can be worth thousands of dollars. Doug says that there can be interest in some 1920’s art deco ceramics and glass objects at the moment.
The market for fine China is pretty flat worldwide, not just in Canberra. With a few exceptions, there is almost no demand for dinnerware, tea ware or coffee ware in the current market. Figurines, however, can do much better, depending on the manufacturer.
The market for dolls and teddy bears has also plateaued recently. However, there is reasonable demand for certain lithograph tin toys and vintage matchbox cars.
There is a demand for some signed paintings created in the 1960’s or, preferably, earlier. Doug mainly specialises in signed paintings by known artists.
With all of the above categories, there are of course exceptions to the rule. Antiques and collectibles dealers know what to look for when it comes to buying and selling antiques and this is an area in which I very happily defer to the experts!
If you have the intent to sell your collectibles, he is happy to visit your home (as he has kindly visited the homes of my clients) to buy any objects of value. He’s not worried if they’re still in the kitchen cupboards, he’s happy to look through any collections to identify any “diamonds in the rough”.
Doug’s top tip for selling your antiques and collectibles is to sell them BEFORE you begin any decluttering process so that you don’t accidentally throw out items of value.
Just note that Doug unfortunately doesn’t have the capacity to conduct free appraisals – he’s only able to visit homes of people who are genuinely interested in selling collectibles.
If it’s just one or two items you think you’ll sell, bring them along to Canberra Antiques Centre in Fyshwick.
You never know what you might have in your home!