How to get the best price when pawning your antiques and collectibles in 2021
February 19, 2019
Pawning your antiques and collectibles is an excellent way to raise cash with the minimum of fuss. Asset-based loans from reputable and expert pawnbrokers are fast becoming the way to secure money, ensuring that your precious item has been appreciated for its true appeal and value.
A little bit of research will help you achieve the best value for your asset and make the process of securing your loan as smooth as possible. To get the best price, a number of factors need to be taken into account.
The X factor
First of all, consider what kind of items are the most desirable and therefore will deliver the best price. Above all, your antique or collectible needs to have the “X factor” – a unique quality that sets it apart from the rest.
This could be its rarity – maybe you have a classic watch that was produced as part of a limited edition, or it’s associated with a celebrity or royal. Market trends also play a part in determining an item’s appeal. Unless you have an in-depth knowledge of the subject, this can be hard to define, but a specialist will be able to gauge this based on their knowledge and experience.
Evidence of the “provenance” or history of an item will help inform its value. For items such as fine watches or jewellery, if you have the original box, receipt, guarantee and details of any service or repairs, this will help you achieve a good valuation on which your loan amount will be based.
Items such as antiques and artwork sometimes come with an account of their history, either written by their creator or by a previous owner, or an exhibition history, which can help increase their value.
In short, the more solid the provenance, the more credible the authenticity of the piece and the higher value you will achieve.
Ask the experts
Engaging with a professional, reputable agent who understands the value of your item and will offer you a fair deal is a crucial factor in achieving the best price for your antique or collectible.
The difference between traditional and high-end pawnbrokers is that the latter will take time to value your item, taking into account factors such as its condition, provenance, rarity and desirability. Only an in-depth knowledge of the market and current trends will allow someone to assess an item’s value accurately and fairly, informing any loan amount you will be offered against your item’s value.
The term “antiques and collectibles” covers a vast range of items. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular items that are offered against loans, and how you can fetch the best value for these.
Jewellery by classic brands (old or new) such as Boodles, Cartier or Tiffany and Co. or Graff tends to be desirable. Of course, quality is an important factor. For gemstones, the colour, clarity, cut and carat are examined, and if you have a laboratory report detailing these, so much the better, along with original receipts, other paperwork and packaging.
In 2017, a gold ring that was given to Gone With The Wind leading lady Vivien Leigh by her husband Laurence Olivier and inscribed with the words, “Laurence Olivier Vivien Eternally” fetched £37,500 at the Sotheby’s auction of her personal belongings. Without doubt, association with not just one, but two, major stars of the twentieth century pushed up the price.
As with jewellery, you are more likely to get a good assessment of your classic watch value if it comes accompanied with original packaging and documentation.
Be aware, though, that within these brands some models may be more desirable than others. For Rolex, examples of go-to models are the Submariner, Daytona, Day-Date and Rolex GMT.
Even better, if you have a classic watch once owned or worn by a celebrity, this will increase its value. Sean Connery wore a vintage Rolex Submariner in the 1962 Dr No film and it went on to sell for over $1 million (around £780,000) at auction in New York in 2018.
Limited edition models such as the 16800 Rolex Submariner or the Breguet Type XX Aeronavale 100th Anniversary also fetch a good price at sale or when their value is assessed for the purposes of loans.
In recent years, works of fine art have fetched astronomical heights at auction, demonstrating their desirability and ability to secure you a good deal. Gustav Klimt’s Bauerngarten sold for nearly £48,000 in 2017, while in the same year, Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi fetched a stunning $450,312,500 (approximately £350,000,000).
Of course, we don’t all have the classics stashed away at home but even lesser-known artists can fetch decent prices if their work encapsulates a particular style of painting or there is documentation backing up their provenance and the story behind them.
Fine wines and spirits
A bottle of fine wine or spirits can unlock a good price for a personal loan. As with all collectibles, condition and provenance are key. Examining its vintage, how it has been stored, the cork’s condition and any documentation telling its story will influence the value offered.
Spirits also have their place. In October 2018 a bottle of whiskey sold for £848,750 at Bonham’s Edinburgh whiskey sale, setting a world record. The bottle of “The Macallan Valerio Adami” was distilled in 1926 and bottled 60 years later. Its label was designed by renowned artists Valerio Adami and Sir Peter Blake, and only 11 other bottles bore the same design, increasing the rarity value.
For classic cars, the necessary paperwork such as the registration documents and proof of ownership, as well as condition and mileage, are important factors in determining their value.
Certain iconic makes and models such as the Aston Martin V8 Vantage, Jaguar E-Type S1 Roadster and the original Fiat 500 have been known to fetch excellent prices at auction. In 2013 a Jaguar E-Type S1 Roadster known as the “Black Beauty” built in 1965 and with just 71,000 miles on the clock was sold for $467,500 (around £365,500).
Private plates too can be a reliable asset when it comes to securing a good value for your loan. If your plate has few letters and numbers, features “0” or “1”, or if it spells out a word, you’re more likely to secure a higher value. Bearing this in mind, the plate “1 0” sold for £210,242 in 2009.
Your antique or collectible doesn’t have to be as obvious as a Picasso or a classic sports car. Many items that you may have at home can provide great security against a loan. If you’re a fashionista, you may have classic Hermès or Chanel handbags stored carefully in your cupboards that could release some cash for you, or maybe rare books nestling in your bookcase – first editions of classic books, even better if signed by the author, can release generous cash funds for you.
How to value antiques and collectibles
Whenever you decide to loan against antiques, the first thing to consider is the value of the items you wish to pawn. At New Bond Street Pawnbrokers, we arrange loans against antiques every day, and it never fails to surprise us when a customer isn’t aware of how much their assets are worth. We would always recommend doing a self-appraisal at home before taking your piece in to be valued.
Make no mistake, making valuations for loans against antiques and collectables can be a tricky business, one that requires a good deal of research and patience. While certain items in regular circulation might be readily appraised, more unusual pieces require deeper investigation before their value can be assessed. This can be a time-consuming process, but one that is ultimately rewarding.
It is worth mentioning at the outset that the true value of any antique or collectable is the amount negotiated between a buyer and a seller during any given transaction. Previous sales of similar items might offer some guidance, but at the end of the day, it is what a buyer is prepared to pay, and what you are prepared to accept, that determines an item’s worth. This applies just as much when making a direct sale as it does when taking out loans against antiques.
Start with sales
The first thing appraisers do when valuing antiques and collectables is look at comparable values based on recent sales of similar items. If they find a number of recorded sales for a piece exactly the same as yours, then this would allow them to make an accurate valuation should you be looking to pawn your antique assets. The highest and lowest values are usually discarded, as this provides a false picture, with most appraisers and pawnbrokers preferring to look at a median range of final sales prices.
Truth be told, finding a sales record for the exact same item in the exact same condition is far from likely when you’re taking out loans against antiques, so appraisers will sometimes branch out a bit when searching for sales records, to include items that are similar. This is less precise, of course, but it gives the appraiser a point of reference, at least.
Marks and stamps
When you come to pawn your fine items it is a fact that pieces stamped with a designer or a manufacturer’s mark are usually worth more than the exact same piece bearing no signature. Some marks and stamps are very small, and may require a jeweller’s loupe, or a magnifying glass to make out clearly. Many hand-crafted and painted pieces bear an artist’s signature as well as the manufacturer’s mark, and these are invaluable for determining the worth of your antique.
Perhaps the most important factor when you pawn your collectables is the condition. An item identical might appear in a recent price guide, but unless it is in identical condition too, it’s a questionable point. Anything that prevents your antique from being considered in mint condition – cracks, chips, stains, even everyday wear and tear – can have a detrimental effect on its value.
Carrying on from condition, the general rule when considering loans against antiques is that the rarer an antique, the more leeway you are given regarding its condition. A one-of-a-kind piece of pottery with a crack down the middle might still command a decent price, whilst a mass-produced piece of similar vintage, with similar damage, might be next to worthless.
Is it collectible?
Old doesn’t necessarily mean valuable. There are many vintage and antique items on the market that don’t sell simply because nobody wants to buy them. Perhaps they are too commonplace to command attention in the auction room, or too unique to interest any but the most avid collector. As in any market, items go in and out of fashion over time, so don’t be too dismayed when you come to pawn your fine items, only to find there’s no demand for them. It may only be a matter of time and place.
Is it genuine?
Unfortunately, when taking out loans against antiques you may find out that the beautiful piece you picked up at a car boot sale after some hard bargaining is not the real deal you thought it was. There are many ways in which a professional appraiser can determine authenticity of a piece, often involving discrepancies in the signatures, stamps and other marks, or in the signs of wear and tear that don’t match the purported provenance of the piece.
Has it been restored?
It’s important to remember that antique items weren’t antiques when they were first manufactured. They were made or built to be used, whether a dining table or a piece of flatware. Wear and tear from everyday use is inevitable and, while it often negatively effects the value of a piece, it can potentially add a sense of history or individual charm. Antique restoration requires great skill and is not something to be undertaken lightly. Professional restorers go as far as sourcing replacement wood from furniture of a similar vintage, all the way to only using the tools and techniques the original manufacturer would have had access to. This attention to detail can add value to your piece, and the hallmark of certain restoration firms is almost as important as the original manufacturer’s stamp. The flip side of the coin is that amateur repairs and restoration can severely reduce the value of an antique in most cases.
Some antiques and collectables still retain some value, even if they are damaged or broken. Perhaps the dealer feels that the piece can be restored to its original condition over time, and net them a tidy profit. Or it’s possible the item for sale might not have any intrinsic value on its own, but it could be broken down for parts, allowing other items in the buyer’s collection to be repaired or restored. Outside of the pawnbrokers or the dealer’s room, crafters and makeover artists might find some value in damaged or broken pieces for use in one of their projects.
If you have an antique or collectible to offer as security against a loan, get in touch with specialists who have experience and in-depth knowledge of luxury goods. New Bond Street Pawnbrokers will be happy to appraise your piece in a confidential and professional manner and offer the best value available for your loan, with the minimum of fuss. To get started, complete the contact form or call us on 020 7493 0385.
New Bond Street Pawnbrokers are a discreet, luxury pawnbroking service specialising in loans against fine assets like diamonds, fine jewellery, classic cars, fine wines, fine art , rare books, and fine watches . Contact us to discuss arranging a valuation today.