How to Find Out How Much a Piece of Art Pottery Is Worth
There are many reasons why you might want to know how much your art pottery is worth. Some of the reasons could be that you want to sell the piece or collection, want to know what it’s worth, or need a price for insurance or estate, trust, settlement, or probate planning. Therefore, it’s important to know the different ways to evaluate and estimate the value of art pottery and the limits of each way to determine the price or value of a single vase or a whole collection.
1. Online appraisals of pottery
Every year, we do 100s of online appraisals of art pottery. We have done online appraisals for a single piece of art pottery and collections of 150–200 pieces. People who have inherited a collection of art pottery like Roseville or Rookwood often come to us because they don’t know how much the collection is worth or how to sell it. Family members are usually involved, and they may want to keep some pieces from the collection. So, it’s important to find out how much each piece is worth so that the estate can get enough money for the things they keep. Sometimes the family wants to get rid of the whole collection and make sure they get as much money as possible from the sale. Most of the time, it is possible to do an accurate and inexpensive online appraisal of an art pottery collection thanks to the high quality of digital photography available today.
It is important to make sure that the art pottery expert you choose, whether online or in person, is a real expert in the field. Like stocks, real estate, and many other types of investments, the price of art pottery goes up and down often and sometimes in a big way. Unfortunately, prices don’t always go up over time, which is a shame. If your appraiser doesn’t know much about how much art pottery is worth on the market right now, you may be very unhappy with your appraisal results.
We just finished working with a client who paid more than $50,000 to have the items in an inherited estate valued. This estate had a lot of different kinds of antiques and more than 300 pieces of art pottery. Even though the appraiser might have known a lot about arts and crafts furniture, they didn’t know much about art pottery. The estates’ appraisal didn’t consider how damaged or restored most of the art pottery was. Instead, they used out-of-date reference books and adjusted prices for inflation over the last ten years to come up with values. As a result, many pieces of art pottery from this estate were sold for 50–60% of their appraised value. Even worse, the estate had already paid estate taxes based on what was thought to be the collection’s fair market value. So, the appraiser must have art pottery experience, whether the appraisal is done online or in person.
2. Look up the value of your pottery online.
There are several ways to determine how much your art pottery is worth. Past auction results on eBay are probably the best and easiest way to determine what your pottery is worth on the market. However, for this to be a good way to figure out how much your piece is worth, you need to find something similar. This is much easier to do if you are looking up the value of a 6″ blue Freesia vase made by Roseville than if you are trying to figure out the value of a piece of Rookwood pottery painted by an artist.
When using eBay to figure out how much your pottery is worth or how much it costs, you should only look at items that have sold. Sellers can set the price for an item at any amount they want. Most of the time, these prices are much higher than what a real buyer will pay. Roseville pieces often have prices that are two or three times what they sell for on eBay or other online antique shops. So make sure you know the difference between how much something is priced and how much it sells.
To compare prices, you should only look at items that have already been sold and check the condition descriptions. Generally, if your item is damaged, it is worth about 50–75% of what a collector would pay for a perfect example. Even small damage to a vase will often make a big difference in the price.
There aren’t many perfect pieces of art pottery for sale. That’s why pieces in perfect condition command and deserve a higher price. You can’t expect that same price increase if your vase is broken or has been fixed. In the same way, your Weller vase is worth more if it is in perfect condition than if it has damage.
3. Put your pottery up for sale at an auction
One of the best ways to find out what your art pottery is worth is to put it up for auction and let the bidding war decide how much it’s worth. As long as the auction is well-attended and well-publicized, this is a good way to determine how much a willing buyer will pay for your item in the current market. There are a lot of ways to sell things at auction. These include eBay, artpotteryplace.com, another online auction site, live internet-only biddings, like what Just Art Pottery Auctions offers, and live auctions from other auction houses. In future articles, we will discuss choosing the best auctioneer.
Price guides are one way to determine pottery prices that aren’t shown above. Unfortunately, due to the wide range of prices, most price guides for art pottery are already out of date by the time they come out.