American antique slant lid desk

I get asked “How much is my furniture worth?” so many times every week that I thought I should try and give this a quick and “easy” answer! I guess that I’m trying to simplify a more complex subject, but here goes. The first thing I ask anyone wanting to know the value of something is, ” why do you want to know what it’s worth?” I ask this first because there are several different “levels of value” for any  item. One level is the “replacement cost” (or value). This is what it would cost to go out and buy either the exact same item or one of comparable form. This is generally the highest value or price and what is used for insurance replacement cost.

Another level of value is the “fair market value.” The FMV is the price a knowledgeable buyer would pay the seller for an items which is honestly represented and neither the buyer or seller has an advantage. The sale is considered an orderly liquidation without any stress or time constraints influencing the sale.  There is a longer, more technical definition of FMV used by both the insurance industry and professional appraisers that breaks this down even further, but we don’t need to go there now. To understand the FMV of an item you need to look at sales of similar or comparable items in the marketplaces such as auction houses and internet sales venues like eBay and Today, being able to use the internet to research item descriptions and values makes it fairly easy to understand what you have and how much it’s worth. It just takes knowing what you have and where to search for comparables to see the values.

Researching the FMV is a good idea to decide what price you may want to sell an item for, but it’s important that you are comparing similar items. If you’re not sure what you have, seek the help of someone more knowledgeable or even pay a professional for a consultation if you think the item may be valuable. Many times just by sending some good digital pictures to dealers in your area or even outside your area you may be able to get some free information and feedback. Though I always remind those looking to sell an item that they are generally wholesaling the item, so don’t expect to get anything near a retail value.

Until next time…happy hunting!


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