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Here’s a concept that’s rarely discussed: “The Antiques & Collectible Pecking Order.” What I mean is that there are different levels within the Antiques & Collectibles trade, and it’s sometimes interesting to watch an item move from one level to the other, and how “value” changes at each level.

This is a true story and a perfect example of what I’m talking about. Some years ago my friend purchased an Antique country wooden bucket, in original blue milk-based paint, at a Garage Sale (level #1) for $1. We met the next day at a Flea Market (level #2) where we were both set-up and he sold it to me for $10. It was a fair price and I had no intention of selling it. My plan was to take it home and add it to my collection.

Temporarily I placed it in my van. The next thing I knew another dealer who happened to be shopping the Flea Market saw the bucket and asked its price. I said it wasn’t for sale. Before long the offer was $200 and I couldn’t say “No” any longer. I accepted the $200 and split it with my friend. I later learned that the new owner was a high-end antiques dealer. He took it to the high-end Antiques Show (level #3) where he was exhibiting that weekend and I heard through the grapevine that he sold it for $500 to a serious and wealthy collector (level #4).

The point of this vignette is that something purchased for $1 at a Garage Sale on a Saturday morning, traded hands several times, subsequently selling for $10, then $200, and finally for $500, on the very next day. This illustrates the way merchandise can move through the Antiques & Collectibles Chain or Pecking Order, until it finally reaches the ultimate retail buyer.

What a great business we’re in.

WHAT’S IT WORTH? Eventually almost every collector reaches the point where they decide to sell their collection. Age, health, death, divorce, declining interest, a pending move or downsizing, and sometimes even debt or financial obligations motivate individuals to sell their collections. There’s a lot of great merchandise coming back into the marketplace today, with even more returning in the coming years. Which is great news if you’re a collector because, with declining prices and fresh merchandise, there probably hasn’t been a better time to collect over the past 25 years.

Mike Ivankovich is an Auctioneer, Appraiser, Home Downsizing Expert, and host of the "What's It Worth? Ask Mike the Appraiser" Radio Show. Now in its 5th year, “What’s It Worth” airs live in the Philadelphia PA area on Friday mornings from 9:30-10:30 AM EST on WBCB 1490 AM, and on the Internet at: www.WBCB1490.com. You can also visit his Radio Show Web Site: www.AskMikeTheAppraiser.com  If your local station doesn’t carry “What’s It Worth” tell them they need to add it to their programing mix. If you know anyone who needs any Personal Property Appraisal work, or if you need a Speaker for an upcoming meeting or event, call Mike at (215)-264-4304, or visit: www.michaelivankovichappraisals.com