Price guides are listings of values for items - how much something sold for or may be expected to sell for. Such guides provide a starting point for determining the value of a particular item, but you need to understand how they work and how to use them if you want to get the most out of what the guides offer.
All Types of Antiques
A good guide will explain how it calculated the values, and it will be as recent as possible (check to see when the website was last updated.) Prices may come from auctions, shows, or other dealers, and may vary widely. In fact, one source alone does not give a true value. Auction prices may be too high because of a bidding war. Show prices may be high at the start of the show or lower at the end of a show. Dealer pricing may also show a wide range for the same items. Still, good price guides will continually update their sources.
Kovels has maintained up-to-date antiques pricing guides since 1958. Register for the free Basic subscription and receive access to their Price Guide with over 1,000,000 actual prices. Note that their Buyer's Price Guide is available only with a paid membership, along with some other areas of the website.
While most online price guides specialize in one type of antique, Kovels lists antiques in many categories. The website is easy to navigate, with antiques arranged according to type. There is also a chat board where you can ask questions and discuss your items with other collectors. If you have a piece of pottery or antique porcelain, you can easily identify it by using the images provided.
Additional Websites for Pricing Information
While not price guides, an online free valuation is useful. If you are interested in selling rare or valuable items, you may be able to obtain a suggested sales price from auction houses. Some, like Bonhams Auction House or Christie's, will offer free valuations, but remember, please: higher end items only, and not a chipped tea set.
If you have a specific piece that you're looking to find some pricing information on, you can check with other websites that provide realized sales listings or professional appraisals.
- Search at Antiques Roadshow. After all their appraisals over the years, you can find prices for just about anything online here, if you just do a bit of searching.
- eBay has a handy way to look up realized prices for any antique: you can do a search and under the "Categories" column to the left of your screen, head to the bottom and click on "Sold Listings." Voila - realized sales for comparison.
Book Market Values
Find the market value of your old books by checking several places online.
- Abe Books is an online database that allows you to search for antique and vintage books. You can compare several copies of the same book in different conditions to most closely match your own book to it. However, these are asking prices, so you need to find the outliers (very high or very low prices) and determine whether your books fit with them, or with the more average values.
- Biblio is another great website for identifying book values. They have articles about book collecting, and they link to thousands of dealers and their offerings. Again, keep in mind these are asking prices rather than realized values. If you want to know how or why a dealer is asking a certain price, you can easily email the shop.
- Some auction houses specialize in rare books, and you can view their catalogs and realized prices online. Swann and PBA Galleries allow you to see their realized prices for past sales.
The Smithsonian Libraries do not offer price guides, but they do have an excellent resource for helping you to identify your books, which goes hand in hand with assigning a value.
Collectiblend has hundreds of antique, vintage, and classic cameras in its database. Many have images along with the excellent descriptions and prices. The cameras are listed by the manufacturer but many of the prices are in Euros, so you'll need a calculator in some cases.
Carnival Glass Websites
Find out what your beautifully colored carnival glass is going for by checking these websites:
- David Doty's Carnival Glass site helps collectors evaluate and identify Carnival Glass. Use the alphabetical quick find at the bottom of the opening page to look for your specific piece. There are thousands of images of patterns and lists all the colors that the item was made in. There is also a section with images of fakes to help the novice collector identify reproduction and fake Carnival.
- Carnival Heaven has a lot of information about carnival glass and its history: there are also some pricing guides, but you may have to dig around a bit to find them since most are listed by individual manufacturers.
China Piece Pricing Help
There are no one-stop free pricing guides for this large area of collecting, but you can limit your search in several ways.
- First, try a site like eBay or Ruby Lane, where you can see thousands of items that are for sale and develop an idea of what antiques and collectibles can command on the market.
- Another site is Replacements, which lists a seemingly unending array of patterns and styles from the 19th century to present; the site also has a free identification service. Although their prices are asking values, by comparing eBay sold listings and prices listed at other sites, you can develop a sense of what your item may be currently worth.
Royal Albert Patterns is a go-to for those who love English china by this company. Check out the patterns, then link to past sales at other auction sites. It's a bit of a backdoor to realized prices, but the trip is worth it.
Coin Collector Guides
Valuable information on rare and unique coins can be found in several free guides online.
- If you are a coin collector, you will find the Coin Prices Guide an invaluable resource for prices and other information. The website is crammed with information about collecting, buying, and selling, but it also has recently realized prices for rare and collectible coins.
- Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) has a detailed online pricing guide that is free and easy to use. You can search by coin name, or metal, age, and so on. Their charts are easy to follow and you can often get more detailed information by clicking through on the particular one you want to learn more about.
- Lyn Knight lists prices for coins, paper money, and other associated items from around the world.
Costume and Vintage Jewelry Pricing
Costume jewelry is big business, with hundreds of dealers and appraisers. While there are many websites that feature glittery, glamorous jewelry from the past, many of them charge for price lists or refer you to pricing guides for purchase. Still, you can locate prices through eBay (look under the "Sold" listings), or check out auction lists for realized prices. The following will also help:
There are several websites that offer doll values (both realized and retail prices), along with lots of information about the history of dolls:
This is a huge area of collecting and there are many sites which list furniture prices so your best bet is to search for specific styles, materials (oak or maple, for example) and date of manufacture. Use the general databases listed above, but a few others to try include:
- Antiques Navigator, which lists realized prices from auctions, sales, and other sources. The listings contain photographs and descriptions. Again, their search page is your best bet for finding the right listing.
- Miller's Antiques and Collectables Guide lists a lot of European furniture with prices and auction houses. The prices go back a number of years and some are out of date, but the clear photographs will help in your searches.
- Try Christie's or Sotheby's auction houses for recent sales of fine furniture and realized prices.
Lady Head Vase Pricing Help
If you collect lady head vases, then Just Collectibles is helpful. They discuss the history of these planters/vases, offer examples, and you can also find links to thousands of Etsy and eBay listings to help you figure out asking prices.
If you love antique and vintage radios, you will enjoy W JOE Radio. It has an excellent price guide, as well as parts to restore your radio to working condition. Radios are organized by name, and the webmaster says that these prices are based on his knowledge and opinion, but it's a good place to start your search.
While it's not a pricing page, Phil's Old Radios has excellent information about establishing values for your items.
Rock and Roll Memorabilia
Early rock and roll records and associated memorabilia have dedicated fans who collect favorite groups. Prices range from a few dollars to hundreds of thousands (and prices can change overnight), but here are some places to get you started:
- Find out the value of your Beatles Yesterday and Today memorabilia on the Songs, Pictures, and Stories of the Beatles site. It lists records, tapes, CDs, bootleg items, posters, and many other collectibles. It also has lots of great photos to help you compare items to each other, or to your vintage items.
- The Stones are still the bad boys of rock, and their early recordings can bring high prices (so, you can't always get what you want). This price list is in English pounds, but it's a good place to begin.
- Profiles in History holds rock and roll memorabilia auctions, and their realized prices lists are useful valuation tools. Check their auction archives to find the most recent lists for musician-related collectibles.
Roycroft Copper Brand Items
Roycroft Copper has listings of many Roycroft items in the Arts and Crafts styles from lamps to bowls. Each listing contains images, descriptions and how much the item sold for at auction. The site also has a number of helpful resources for the collector such as How to Spot Fakes and Markings.
Stringed Instrument Price Guide
If you own an old violin or other stringed instruments, you can discover the value with this stringed instrument price guide online. It is very user-friendly with categories and an alphabetical list of makers. You will need to know a little about your instrument before using this guide. Those included are the violin, viola, bows, cello, and double bass.
Teddy Bear Values
Named after President Teddy Roosevelt, the teddy bear is still a favorite among children and collectors. Some of the most valuable bears were manufactured by Steiff, and you can find values for their bears (and other stuffed toys) at Steiff Values.
Vintage Clothing Estimates
While free price guides for vintage clothing are unavailable, you can search shops that carry the clothes you seek to get an estimate of what they are priced or valued.
- PopBetty is not a pricing guide, but you will find links to vintage shops that stock clothing. Again: you'll need to compare prices to arrive at a value for your item, but since identification is the first step in pricing, this is a good place to start. Some of the links are inactive but try Ballyhoo Vintage and Vintage Vixen to start.
- Lindy Shopper has a chatty listing of suggested prices for vintage clothing, but it's helpful for putting values into perspective.
Finding Prices Online
Online pricing is a quickly changing area of the internet, with some sites completely free, others offering some free information, while still others require a membership fee. But by spending some time online, you can take advantage of the free antiques and collectibles guides and respected retailers to help you identify and value your antiques and collectibles.