Dear PoPville – Estate appraisers/sales?

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“Dear PoPville,

I’m hoping some readers can recommend reputable estate appraisers/companies in the area that could advise me and help facilitate the sale of some of my grandmother’s belongings–silver, china, crystal, artwork, collectibles, that sort of thing. Mostly items from the 1920s-50s.

Many thanks!”

8 Comment

  • Doyle New York has an office in Georgetown that will offer advice at no charge via digital photographs. If things are of substantial value, they will offer to sell for you at auction in New York taking a commission. For things of modest value, they will suggest consignment shops, tag sale people or someone to purchase the entire estate outright depending on your circumstances and the scope of the estate. You can phone them at 202-342-6100 or email [email protected]

  • Ask how the employees get paid. I had an estate sale for my mom’s stuff and the employees were paid by buying my stuff at almost no money (they paid $17.00 for a painting that after I got back sold at auction for $7200.00 among other things). I was surprised to learn that many smaller estate sale business work this way. Make sure in the contract nothing leaves until it’s sold. I know that’s some basic stuff but I had no idea some old ladys were ripping me off until it was too late. She was also a gun appraiser and had no clue what my most of my dad’s guns were but it did not stop her from taking my money and acting like she’s been doing this since birth.

  • Don’t consider this an endorsement just an FYI/possibility, but Diener Jewelers downtown does them.

  • We used Weschlers. They charge quite a bit, but if you’ve got items that you think are worth a good sum they are well worth it.

  • I’ve used Weschlers before and my experience was positive.

  • Alex Cooper Auctioneers in Towson is a great auction house. They are a family business and they have been around for almost 80 years. They will appraise your items using photographs sent by e-mail if you do not want to bring them to Towson. They help arrange for shipping to their auction house if you decide to sell your items at one of their auctions. You can find more information on their website:

  • Do yourself a favor and for china, silver, crystal there are a few things you can do to prepare yourself. First of all, most china is not going to be worth much of anything – there just is not a strong market for it. Unless it has a substantial maker – spode, rosenthal, etc. or is it limoges, china sets just don’t sell for much. At auction they might bring a few hundred dollars tops. Not absolute, but something to keep in mind.

    Silver plate from that era is not worth too much either – unless it is heavy and again from a good maker – Reed/Barton, etc. or English. If the silver is sterling, which you will be able to tell by a mark 925 or “sterling” on the piece, that is another story. Again, some things like a pair of sterling candlesticks from that era – if simple will probably only sell for $95 or so. More elaborate pieces or special makers of course will bring much more.

    Crystal, unless it is waterford or another big maker is not going to be worth much either because the shapes are not commonly used today. Wine glasses were smaller, champagne stems were bowl-shaped, and there were a variety of cordial and sherry glass sizes that nobody uses. Again, not universal, but something to keep in mind.

    I work in the consignment business – not an appraiser, but thought I’d help you out a little. Google the makers, and search completed listings on ebay for some guidance too. You would be surprised what you can figure out yourself.

  • THANK YOU! This is all very very helpful.

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