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January 16, 2018

WorthPoint

Hard-to-Sell Estate Items

Previously published on WorthPoint.com It’s fun to think of estates as being filled with hidden treasures, waiting to be discovered and cashed in for Big Bucks. Hardly a week goes by without a news report of a naive estate shopper finding a rare painting, tool, coin or other collectible. The hard truth is that estate

The Auction that Launched the Antiques Trade

The antiques business began in July, 1886. At least, that’s the claim made by author Jonathan Gash in his book “Paid and Loving Eyes” (Penguin, 1993). Gash is the creator of the Lovejoy character, a roguish antiques dealer whose escapades are recounted in more than two dozen novels and 71 BBC television shows. I enjoyed

Brunswick Panatrope Radio With Phonograph

I bought my first MP3 player last week. I know it’s old technology. Apple introduced the iPod in 2001 and I’m just getting on-board. Call me a late adopter. I bought my first home computer in 1986 and my first cell phone in 2001. I still don’t have a smartphone. I did, however, finally cut

How to Sell the Family Piano

Today, Boomers having to settle their parents’ estates face an “elephant in the room” that isn’t so funny: the family piano. Many pianos are just downright hard to sell nowadays. They are heavy, difficult to move, expensive to repair and keep tuned and technologically backward. Acoustic pianos are rarely sought-after items for middle-class homes. Hardly

Liquidating Estate Tangible Personal Property

Pop quiz for executors: what estate settlement task will take up most of your time, cause you the most aggravation, and return the smallest amount of cash to the estate coffers? Answer: liquidating the tangible personal property. Of course, anyone who has ever served as an estate executor already knows this. To the uninitiated, let

Documenting Your Possessions

Insurance companies love to accept premiums but hate to pay claims.  Recently, CNN obtained the training manuals for Allstate Insurance.  The training manuals procedures were based on the recommendations of the New York consulting firm McKinsey & Co…  The manuals outline a plan for Allstate to increase profits by reducing claims payouts.  According to reporter

Arcade Games

It wasn’t too long ago that every shopping mall, bar, and beach boardwalk had a gaming arcade filled with adolescents (and sometimes, adults) pumping quarters into their favorite machines. Traditional pinball machines, Skee-Ball, Whack-A-Mole and others sat side-by-side with newer video game consoles. The arcades were filled with flashing lights, ringing bells, and sirens. Then,

pencil box

Some Surprisingly Valuable Household Junk

There is gold in your drawers that you may not be aware of. Don’t feel bad. We Americans are accumulators. Consumerism drives our economy; when we see something we need (or want) we pull out the plastic and buy it. Over time, our possessions go out of style or lose their appeal, and we opt

National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest

“To build up a library is to create a life. It’s never just a random collection of books.” ― Carlos Maria Domínguez, “The House of Paper” Such is the guiding philosophy of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America’s (ABAA) annual National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest. Launched in 2005, the event is open to college students

A Mis-identified Victorian Sideboard

From the Worthologist Archive comes a tale of misidentification at the hands of an errant estate auctioneer. The subject was sold as a “walnut Austrian wine cabinet.” A hand-written note in one of the drawers stated that the piece was “made only between 1870 and 1885.” An analysis of the photos accompanying the appraisal request

Investing in Art and Antiques

Arguments rage as to whether art and antiques are good investments. There was a time when we were encouraged to invest in art and antiques. “Buy low, and you’ll sell high,” we were told, as if collectibles had no place to go but up and all would appreciate at the same rate of return. In

The Contagion of Collecting

A lock of John Lennon’s hair just brought $35,000 at auction. The crusts of Justin Timberlake’s French toast sold for $3,154. A mucus-filled tissue used by Scarlett Johansson on The Tonight Show garnered $5,300. Have you ever wondered why collectors pay such outrageous sums for items that most of us would throw in the trash?

Collecting Candlestick Telephones

The eBay description is succinct, if not grammatically correct: “(sic)…the price is right 2 years ago I sold one for $4500 at a telephone show in Los Angeles… to own this phone is better than having money in the bank.” The item offered is a Western Electric #10 candlestick phone with a “Buy it Now”

Collecting Vintage Yo-Yos

QUESTION: What do Good Humor ice cream bars, parking meters and yo-yos have in common? ANSWER: Donald F. Duncan (1892-1971), American entrepreneur. It was Duncan’s ideas that sent children scurrying for nickels and dimes at the sound of a Good Humor ice cream truck, set thousands of adults to swearing at the parking tickets they

blunderbuss

Guns of the Mayflower

It seems that each Thanksgiving I happen upon a picture of a somber Pilgrim dressed in black, big buckles on his shoes, belt and hat, with a turkey slung over one shoulder and a blunderbuss firearm in-hand. This image has been used in cartoons, movies and ads for generations; I’m sure that most of you

spirit of 76

Collecting Vintage Field Drums

Church-bells ringing on Sunday morning are a familiar sound in communities all over America. There was a time, though, that the faithful were called to worship by the sound of drums. Thomas L. Purvis notes in his book “Colonial America to 1763” that the Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony built a platform atop their meeting house

Collecting Philco Predicta Televisions

“It’s truly TV today, from the world of tomorrow… it’s 1965… today!” This line from the 1958 Philco television ad exclaiming that the new Predicta model TV was “the most excitingly new concept in the history of television!” At the time, 1965 was a mere seven years away, and the announcer seemed confident that the

antique frames

Evaluating Antique Frames

There is one thing I can count on whenever I evaluate an estate: most rooms will have one floor and three or four walls. Consequently, well-decorated homes may have many more items on the walls than on the floors. Too often, estate executors spend most of their time inventorying the large items of furniture on

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