My husband died about six weeks ago, and I'm trying to sell the antique furniture that has been in his family for generations. I have a sofa, a table, a secretary desk, a small chair, antique silver flatware and other silver pieces. Most everything is American Empire period. I don't have the slightest idea about how to go about selling them. They won't bring enough because of condition issues to use an estate sale auction house (I understand they charge 30-35% of the proceeds), and the only other advice I've had is to sell them on Craig's list. The problem is I don't know how to price things. I've already sent some jewelry to a top jeweler on the east coast who is taking the pieces on consignment. But what about everything else?
I need to move from our current place quickly, and need to sell these things. Any advice is very welcome.
My sympathies go out to you on the passing of your husband.
If you Google images - American Empire furniture, lots of images are posted, usually by antique stores. You may find pieces similar to yours. If you click on the image it will take you to their website where you will see the item and the asking price. It may help you decide what to ask for your similar piece. Of course condition is everything.
If you decide to sell them on Craig's List you will need pictures of the front, side and back of the furniture pieces, especially pictures of any flaws. Be prepared to have strangers wanting to come to your house to view the pieces. I'd make sure I had a friend or neighbor there at the time.
You could also put a classified ad in a local paper. It would probably attract local antique dealers, but they won't offer you full price. They may even offer you a price for the whole lot.
Local auctioneers may be interested in selling your stuff at one of their combined, in-house auctions. But they will take a commission, and you will have to wait until they have enough pieces in order to hold an auction.
Maybe an antique mall in your area would allow you to post a For Sale sign on a bulletin board.
Either way, be prepared to have people coming to your house to view your stuff. Play it safe and don't be alone when they come. Be prepared for dickering. Start high, you can always come down.
I too send my sympathy. This must be a stressful time for you in so many ways. I just wanted to pass along a recent story about a friend whose wife had died and he too had antiques (and more) to dispose of because he was moving into a retirement village which he had already furnished to the hilt. Even after family had taken everything they wanted (or had room for), there was still so much. He asked me to come down and help him determine how much to ask for the pieces because he planned to have an estate sale. I did that but discovered that he expected the same price for the items that one would pay in an antique store. That is unlikely to happen unless one sells to individuals who very much want the pieces and it would have taken much longer than he had before moving. What he eventually did was to contact several REPUTABLE antique dealers in his area and one of them made him a fair offer on all of the pieces. The non-antique pieces were sold in one lot to the owner of an antique mall. Bottom line was that my friend met his deadline in moving and the dealers got a price that would allow them to clean and re-sell. A reputable dealer will be honest about prices. There are also appraisers who charge for their time instead of by percentage...and these appraisers don't make offers to buy. Good luck to you. Keep us posted.
Iam also sorry for your loss,this has got to be hard . advertise a moving sale ,have 4-5 friends or family working with you,discuss prices and how low you want to go.wish you were closer I would help you.do beware of dealers,yes they need to buy low so they can resell them , can you afford to put everything you want to sell in storage untill you have time to maybe research the items,so you dont lose money ,those unit rentals are pretty reasonable.Great Luck to you