Are you a new antique and vintage collector finding it hard to navigate your hobby? You’ll be pleased to learn you’re not alone because the journey can be overwhelming, and people like us have compiled comprehensive price guides to help with your search.
While you can get common antique items for free, rare pieces are worth millions of dollars. In 2010, Christie’s in the U.K. sold a Pinner Qing Dynasty Vase for $80.2 million, holding the record as the most expensive collectible ever sold.
A Price Guide tells you everything you need to know about an item, from values to identification and monetary values. We’ll teach you how to use them to your advantage.
Table of Contents
Types of Antique Price Guides
An antique price guide can give you information on general collectibles or specific products by brand or type. The ideal price guide breaks down how it arrived at its final value and updates these figures regularly.
Experts and authorities curate these guides on all things antiques, vintage, and collectibles, so you can rest assured. There are different types of Price Guides depending on your interest, and that’s what we’re here to do.
General Price Guides
A General Price guide has information on every antique and vintage product you can think of. Each piece is grouped by categories for easy access to curious readers and they provide all-around details on common collectibles including fine art, pottery, and keepsakes.
A general price guide is more suited to a beginner than a niche guide since it gives an overview on all possibilities. On the other hand, if you know exactly what you’re looking for, then the niche guide is your best bet.
Price Guide by Brands (a.k.a. Niche)
The major shortcoming of General Price Guides is the limited information available since the writers have to cram a lot of info in one place. You don’t have that problem with specialized Price Guides as it gives a more in-depth insight into your antique or vintage of choice.
Under this category, we have guides like Official Price Guide to Pottery and Porcelain for Pottery, AbeBooks for books, fine art & collectibles, and Barbie Price Guide in Doll Collectors’ Guide & Books for Barbie Dolls.
You’ll notice that even with specialized price guides, there are broad categories like Abe Books which covers all things books, fine art, and collectibles.
Where to Buy Antique and Vintage Collectibles
Typically, collectibles are found in specialized stores, estate sales, garage sales, auction stores, and online retail sites. Each of these outlets has its advantages and disadvantages, which you’ll learn along the line.
Before we begin, you should know the top five collectibles worth money worldwide;
- Pocket Watches
- Persian Rugs
Keep reading to learn more about these items below.
Price Guide for General Collectibles
Apart from the top price guides listed above, there are more options to help you evaluate the price of your collectible. Now that you know how Price Guides work, here’s a list of some of the most popular books and online platforms you can use.
1. Collectibles Price Guide by Judith Miller
Judith Miller has made a name for herself in the collectors’ world; hence her Collectibles Price Guide is a top pick amongst hobbyists.
Apart from that her guide is detailed to the tee with pictures in color, history, and in-depth explanations, it contains updated prices on all valuable and less valuable items.
New collectors would find Judith Miller’s books useful because you can cross-reference the images with your items.
2. Warman’s Antiques and Collectibles Price Guide
Warman’s Antiques and Collectibles Price Guide is ideal for new buyers because it includes tips on spotting counterfeits and fakes. As a first-time collector, that’s one of your biggest challenges.
Other than that extra advantage, Warman’s guide is like any other good price guide by our standards.
One of the oldest and most credible antique and vintage price guides is Kovels. The general price guide has been a reliable source of information since 1958.
With technological improvement in the 21st century, Kovels now exists online, and you can access its information via a free Basic subscription.
However, if you watch the enchilada, you’ll have to shell out the dollars. A paid subscription makes you a Kovels’ member with access to a full range of information, including the Buyer’s Price Guide for multiple antique and vintage items.
Kovels’ online page offers an interactive experience as you can ask questions and review answers via the chat board. It also has a great organization of antique items by types, brands, and other notable categories.
With Kovels, collectors get historical background on the information on the products’ manufacturers as well as their current status, tips for buying and selling, alongside colorful pictorial references.
Popular Antique Price Guide for Books
For those of you interested in antique price guide for books, this section is dedicated to you
AbeBooks is a specialized price guide that deals in rare books, old art, and other related collectibles.
Despite its “multi” focus, AbeBooks gained popularity worldwide for its sale of books. Unfortunately, the platform has low ratings among price guides, with many customers complaining about the delivery service.
Biblio is an online platform ideal for discovering the value of old and new books. Unlike AbeBooks, Biblio doesn’t delve into other aspects; instead, its pure focus is on books.
You can authenticate it by engaging Biblio’s appraisal services via emails or stick to the surface info.
Price Guide for Photography
If you’re into photography and high-quality cameras, Collectiblend is your best bet. It deals in photography, including vintage and antique cameras, lenses, and films.
Its extensive database covers full descriptions, designs, prices, and identification details. Collectiblend is a European website, so its prices are listed in Euros.
Price Guide for Dolls
The Official Price Guide to Dolls by Denise Van Patten
Barbies aren’t the only valuable collectible dolls despite being very popular. Another famous doll is the Bratz doll, and you can find its prices in The Official Price Guide to Dolls by Denise Van Patten.
With Dolls, you’ll learn that condition matters as much as brand and history, hence the varying values of Mint condition items and those with missing parts or damaged packaging. Get a Doll Price guide today if you want to earn top dollar as a seller.
Price Guide For Clocks
Antique Clocks Identification and Price Guide
Antique appraiser Jeff Savage and I.T. specialist designed the site Antique Clocks Identification and Price Guide to help collectible clock collectors. The website records 21,000 + models by 10,000+ makers, including detailed descriptions with pictures.
You can access basic info on these items for free, but you need a paid subscription to get an appraisal and access other website privileges.
Price Guide for Coins
The U.S.A. Coin Book
Are you an old soul who believes in flipping coins or tossing them into wishing wells? Did you develop a new interest in collecting coins but have no idea how they’re priced? If your interest is in American coins, then the U.S.A. Coin Book has you covered.
The book contains up-to-date prices, including coin conditions, the creation year, and every other important detail. It has a Red Book format per Crawford Direct.
Online Price Guide Sources
eBay is the biggest secondary retailer worldwide, with an online presence that has no rival. You can find anything on its website by typing the keywords into its search bar.
Another option is to click on the category option in the top left corner to see the large groups available. The best part about using eBay is that you don’t need to register to window shop, unlike many auction sites which require personal details for full access.
With eBay, you can conveniently compare the prices of sold listings by clicking on the column. However, if you want to transact on eBay, you need to fill in a registration form available on prompt.
Amazon is arguably the biggest online market worldwide, so it shouldn’t surprise you that the company deals in relics too. It indexes over 10,000 antique collectibles, including decorations, figurines, home appliances, and Price Guides.
You can get price estimates on the first page of Amazon’s antique section, and when you apply the filters on the left column, it narrows the search and makes it more helpful.
3. 1st Dibs
Are you looking for high-quality Persian rugs, either vintage or antique, then 1stDibs is a great source for prices and sales. Type the keyword into the search bar and click the magnifying glass icon on the right side and wait for it to load the results.
You can narrow your searches using available filters, including price ranges.
WorthPoint is suitable for your purpose if you’re focused on research. You can see the buying and selling difference, including all bids. WorthPoint offers free access to information, although it requires a subscription for more privileges such as becoming a seller.
Appraisals are a fundamental aspect of antiquing as they give you an advantage during buying and selling. Hiring a qualified appraiser isn’t cheap, but you can get affordable services with Mearto.
It’s quick and detailed for a token fee compared to what big organizations like Sotheby’s and Christie’s charge. The best part of Mearto is that it’s online, so you don’t have to travel around the world to get your money’s worth.
6. The Smithsonian
While the Smithsonian doesn’t offer the prices of collectibles sold, it’s a great platform for authenticating your vintage and antique items. It’s the largest museum worldwide with educational information on all things history and antiques.
You can get free access to its online resources without registering or offering any personal information. Click on this link to get started.
7. Magazines and News Outlets
If you’re an avid news reader, look for dedicated columns in the dailies or subscribe to a known antique magazine like Antique Trader Weekly, Collector’s News, and Antique Week per Love to Know.
Knowing and Identifying Vintage and Antique Value
Vintage and Antique items vary in value regardless of their being the same brand or type. That’s why some items sell at significantly low prices, almost free, and others cost premiums.
The first step in getting it right is finding the right materials to help with your hobby, and in this case, getting a price guide is the best start. It prepares you for what’s to come and saves you from losing potential millions or wasting hundreds of thousands on a worthless item.
As expected, there’s no uniform rule for all collectibles, but you can find similarities in price progression or regression through the years.
How to Navigate an Auction House
Navigating Auction Houses as a first-timer can be daunting, but we’ve got you covered. You’ve got to understand the trade jargon to fit in effortlessly. Here are a few words you can familiarize yourself with courtesy of Sotheby’s Institute of Art.
Appraisal: An expert evaluation of an item based on fair market and insurance cost. The former is the estimated monetary value of the relic, while the latter is the replacement cost.
Appraisers come to these figures by comparing similar collectibles sold recently by rival auction houses, other websites, or in-house.
Bid: This is the offer on an auction item that can shift higher as long as there’s another party willing to pay more. It becomes a bidding war when counteroffers are made during one auction until it ends.
Estimate: The price range from the lowest to the highest possible value of an item. Every old collectible has an estimate based on a group of factors, including age, historical significance, and other appraisal results.
Gavel: The wooden hammer used by the auctioneer to signify the end of a bid. Once it drops, that means the item is sold.
The Gavel is the precursor for the term Hamer Price which means the final sale value after the bidding war.
Opening Bid: This is the starting value for an item on auction by a bidder, a.k.a. potential buyer. It’s the first price offered to the auctioneer.
Popular Auction Houses and Websites You Should Know
Here, we’ve taken the liberty to provide you with auction websites that will absolutely be worth your time;
Think about a carnival but for antiques, that’s what Antiques Roadshow offers collectors. You can go about your hobby in a fun and exciting way including treasure hunts, history lessons and more.
BBC’s PBS has run the series for 26 seasons featuring a group of experts inviting everyday Joes to bring their relics and “might-be” valuables to the show for appraisal.
Antiques Roadshow has been around for years and it just ended its latest season in May, 2022. They’ve also evolved digitally and created an online website for easy search where you can find any antique or vintage item you can imagine.
Bonhams Auction House
Bonhams is ideal for collectors who want to purchase fine art, especially from Estate Sales worldwide. Its locations include the Americas, Europe, United Kingdom, Asia-Pacific, Middle East & Africa.
Christie’s is the home for fine luxury art and antiques, both online and real-life, for collectors interested in in-person purchases. It also has outlets in New York, Milan, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Dubai, Amsterdam, Geneva, London, and Zurich.
You can see prices and pictures of available auctions at a glance on its landing page. Once you click on the item, you’ll access more information, but you can’t buy anything without registering.
If you want an all-encompassing destination for auctions and private sales of Fine Art, Jewels, Watches, Wine bottles, and more collectibles, visit Sotheby’s.
They have an online presence, so you can easily enter the keyword beside Sotheby’s in your browser (mobile or desktop). With an established presence since 1744, it doesn’t get more verified than Sotheby’s.
Picking the Best Auction Prices
With your knowledge of antique price guides, the next step is to assess the average figure of complementary sources. As an auctioneer, it’s best to place your starting bid below the fair market value as a strategy to drive it up during the bidding war.
This tactic is however a risk as there’s no guarantee that you’ll get more than one bidder for the item. Don’t take the risk if you’re unsure of the current market value and demand.
How to Sell with Price Guides
Now that you know how to access the price of items today and track trends online, the final step is selling with the information from the price guides. Typically, antique sales are for estate purposes as they’re often part of inheritances.
For example, you’d likely find valuable collectibles when cleaning out attics in old people’s homes or logging inventories of a dead relative’s belongings. So, what do you do when you find such items and evaluate them with Price Guides?
You can easily set up a yard sale on your lawn once you’ve confirmed the price of your collectible, especially if they are worth less than $100. Place a price tag on each item and set up a table somewhere that garners foot traffic without causing a nuisance.
You can partner with a local store if you’ve confirmed your item isn’t worth much to sell on your behalf. However, instead of an outright sale to the antique store, you can make it a consignment whereby you get a percentage of the actual sale price.
If you confirm that your item is worth a lot of money, it’s better to use an auction house because it would fetch the top dollar.
You can place your starting bid based on the in-house appraiser and earn more than the estimated value even after the auctioneer takes its commission.
Again, this sale is ideal for high value items or potentially high valued antiques such as art pieces painted by notable figures e.g. Da Vinci, Monet , Picasso, and Van Gogh.
Thankfully, technology has made things easy, and you can use any of the available online platforms, from Amazon to eBay, to sell your item. It gives you a wider reach and a chance to compare your prices with other vendors selling similar items.
Note that different sites have varying levels of authenticity. For example, purely antique sales websites like Ruby Lane, 1stDibs, and Live Auctioneers authenticate your item before allowing you to put it up for sale.
On the other hand, sites like Etsy and eBay offer no guarantees, and the onus is on the buyer to do due diligence. It offers some guarantees but isn’t as authentic as strictly antique websites.
Antique and Vintage collectibles are goldmines waiting to be discovered if you take the necessary steps. It’s never a bad decision to seek help, and consulting price guides is a step in the right direction.
Having read this guide to this point, you can tell the importance of getting all your facts right before delving into the world of antiques and vintage trading. Remember that there are two types of price guides;
- General Price Guide
- Niche Price Guide
The first has something on everything while the other has everything on something.
Q: Is There an App to Value Antiques?
Worthpoint has a mobile app for constant antique traders making it easy to evaluate their items. It’s available on the app store and google play store. There are other apps like Antique appraisal form on GoCanvas and Antique Price Guides but they haven’t been active or rated since 2018.
Q: How Do I Find the Value of Antiques Online for Free?
According to Martha Stewart and flea market expert Nicolas Martin, using reverse searches with pictures greatly reduces the workload. It helps with identifying unknown items. With millions of records online, browsing is a sure way to get your answers.
Q: What Antiques are Worth Money?
Earlier in this guide, we listed the top five antique collectibles sure to earn you top dollar. Here’s a recap in case you’ve forgotten or skipped it;
Paintings, Manuscripts/1st Edition books, Pocket Watches, Persian Rugs and Pottery. You can check out the link below for the 60 Most Valuable Antiques In History To Look For.