Whether you're a casual collector or a serious antique furniture enthusiast, it's important to understand what your pieces are worth. Several printed guides and online services specialize in antique furniture value lookups. Utilizing these services will allow you to sell or buy furniture for a fair value, insure your special pieces for the appropriate amount, or simply satisfy your curiosity.
Printed Furniture Value Guides
You can use printed antique price guides to help you get an idea of your piece's value. There are several popular options, most of which are available at your local bookstore or from an online book retailer.
- Antique Trader Furniture Price Guide by Kyle Husfloen retails for under $20 and includes information on all the popular styles of American furniture. Pictures will help you properly identify your piece.
- British Antique Furniture: Price Guide and Reasons for Values by John Andrews is a respected resource for valuing antique British furniture. The book include detailed information about how a patina can add value to a piece.
- Miller's Antiques Handbook & Price Guide 2010-2011 by Judith Miller covers all kinds of antiques, but it includes plenty of helpful information about assigning value to antique furniture. According to the publisher, this is the most popular antique guide on the market.
- Kovels' Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide 2011 by Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel uses actual auction results to assign value to antiques, including furniture. The book includes over 2,500 photos to help you identify and assign value to your piece.
- Warman's Antiques & Collectibles 2012 Price Guide by Mark F. Moran is another respected general antique price guide. You may find information about your furniture here.
Online Antique Furniture Value Lookup
You can also find information about the value of your antique furniture by looking it up online. Several websites offer searchable databases and other information to help.
Although it requires registration, Kovels.com offers a free searchable price guide for antiques. The information in the database comes from the sale prices of more than 750,000 antique items around the world. If you know the manufacturer of your furniture, you'll be more likely to get an accurate idea of its price.
Invaluable is an auction site for art and antiques, and it provides free information on the value of items sold on the site. You can browse through the furniture by manufacturer name or the type of piece to get an idea of its value.
WorthPoint specializes in recent sales of specific items of antique furniture and art. You can use the past auction results and sale prices to assign a value to your item. To see the results of your search, you'll need to subscribe to the service, which starts at about $10 per month.
Auction and Antiques Sites
Although most auction sites don't provide antique valuation services, they do offer a great deal of information. Peruse current listings to find out how much your furniture might be worth. The following sites sell or hold auctions for antique furniture on a regular basis:
Appraising Your Antique Furniture for Insurance
If you own valuable antique furniture, you may want to list it separately for insurance purposes. Typically, the insurance value of an antique item is the highest retail value for that item. In other words, it's best to insure your antique furniture for the maximum amount of money it would cost to replace that item if it were lost or damaged. Typically, insurance companies an item will require you to get a formal written appraisal from a professional appraiser. This means you will not be able to rely on furniture values from printed guides or online lookup services. Instead, you'll need to seek out a certified antiques appraiser in your area.
There are several ways to find a certified antiques appraiser:
- Contact local antique dealers and auctioneers and ask them to recommend an accredited certified appraiser.
- Often antique appraisers are available or advertise their business, at antique events and shows. Attend these events when possible.
- Speak to your insurance agent about certified appraisers recommended by the insurance company.
- Contact a major auction house, such as Sotheby's or Christie's, for value lookups on extremely rare or valuable antique furniture.
- Check websites such as Antique Trader where information of events offering free antique appraisal information is posted.
Understanding Antique Furniture Values
In addition to the insurance value for your furniture, there are several kinds of values you may see when you perform lookups. It's a good idea to be familiar with the following terms:
- Fair market value - This is the price a buyer and a seller agree upon when neither one is under any pressure to buy or sell the item. Both parties need to be aware of any relevant information and facts about the particular item.
- Estate or tax value - This value is determined by the IRS by averaging the actual auction prices of similar items.
- Retail value or retail price - This is the price an item sells for at an antique shop.
- Wholesale value - This is the price that an antique dealer generally pays for a piece. It is approximately 30% to 50% less then the item would sell for on the secondary market.
- Auction value - This is the open market price the item would generally sell for when neither the buyer nor seller is in a forced sale position.
Most of these values are given in a dollar range rather then a specific figure. As you view the various values for your antique furniture, it's important to understand that this range reflects the furniture's condition, current market demand, and other significant factors that can vary based on the specific piece or the region in which it is sold.
Helpful Tips for Looking Up Antique Furniture Values
As you look up your furniture using the tools on the Internet and at your local bookstore, keep the following tips in mind:
- List everything you know about your antique furniture. This may include the manufacturer, the patent number, the materials used, and other information. This will help you narrow down your search results.
- Assess the furniture's condition. Condition is a major factor in determining value. Is your furniture in good shape, or will in require restoration? This can help you place your piece within a price range.
- Look up your furniture using several different tools. You may find that you receive different values from various sources.
- If in doubt, have your furniture appraised by a certified professional. This is especially important if you'll be using your furniture value for insurance purposes.
Many Helpful Tools
If you're interested in looking up the value of your antique furniture, you have many tools at your disposal. In addition to the helpful print guides available in stores and at your local library, you can find out about the worth of your furniture online. Either way, it's important to remember that the values assigned by these resources are informal and do not substitute for a professional appraisal.