Do You Have the Collectible Worth Thousands?

Once upon a time, actually it was just before the year 2000, everyone I knew collected something. In your homes as an appraiser, I have seen the result of this national pastime.

The first large collection I was asked to appraise was rolling pins. The client showed me into a room with a huge barn-wood wall, covered in them. Her collection began when she was given her grandmother’s rolling pin. For years she had bought or been given rolling pins of various sizes, colors, material, and age. It was impressive.

Through the years I’ve seen rooms, sheds, and entire houses dedicated to people’s collections of items inspired by found, favored and inherited items. Examples include model trains, dolls, clothing, purses, jewelry, farm implements, tools, nutcrackers, porcelain, glass, pottery, Wedgwood, yard-long pictures, telephones, medical tools, grocery displays, souvenir glass, domestic irons, pink flowers, teacups, toothpick holders, model cars, carved masks, walking sticks, doorknobs, typewriters, corner cupboards, walnut furniture, light wood, Tennessee anything, writing implements, antique books, etc. I could go on for pages.

Our Collections Outgrow the Bow-Front

I think of Hummel figurines from Germany as a transitional collection. After World War II, during the creation of the Baby Boomer generation, young families were charmed by figurines inspired by Sister Maria Innocentia Hummel’s drawings of the children in her village. By the time I’m asked to appraise the collection, it has typically grown to over 80 pieces and sometimes as many as three hundred. They are often kept in a bow front china cabinet.

By the 1970’s, collectibles made overseas in large quantities began trickling into the US. By the 80’s, that trickle had become a tsunami. Entire stores were opened to offer the latest editions of various collectible items. Today, I delight in your collections of Snow Babies, collector plates, Lladro, Swarovski, Beanie Babies, clowns, Christmas ornaments, lunch boxes, Harley Davidson, Elvis, collector tins, and Barbie’s. Large lighted showcases, added shelving, and platforms are often constructed to display quaint villages and fantasy universes. We went CRAZY – but now we’re over it.

Many of these collections are currently sold at auction, often after the first and finer examples are culled by the owners. The sold prices tend to be low unless the collection is quite rare and carefully curated. Attribution to a famous, or better yet, infamous person helps the value and can be used for marketing purposes. It is a buyer’s market.

The new national pastime is down-sizing, and our collections need to be distilled to a few favorites. Most every category has a few high dollar pieces that were made in smaller quantities making them limited or rare. Here’s how to find the money makers of your collection, and also see examples of groupings and collections recently sold.

Prices Paid for Your Collectibles

For example, if you are searching for Precious Moments figurines:

Go to

In the search space:

  • type in Precious Moments
  • At the drop-down menu titled SORT, choose highest first
  • Go to the left (<) side bar, scroll down to Show Only and click SOLD Listings

This search brings the most sought after item to the top and tells you what people have recently paid. Think logically about the information. It doesn’t mean you can immediately ask and get the highest value listed. There may have been dueling heirs forcing value up. Scroll down to get the whole picture of value.

  • I disregard values with a line through them.

Now you can look through your collection to see if you have the pieces that sell for the most money. You’ll also see amounts paid for groupings of the collectibles. With this knowledge, you will be more comfortable fielding offers for single items or the whole lot. Knowing value puts you in the driver’s seat.