Antique or Old Junk: How to Tell the Difference for an Online Storage Auction

September 18, 2017

by Laura Borgshatz, Anton Communications

Bidding on an online storage auction is often a gamble. You want to be sure you're picking up the best possible items for the lowest possible price, and you may find yourself pressured to make a decision fast! Sometimes, you'll gamble on a storage unit full of old items – but how can you tell if you've scored valuable antiques or simply purchased a unit full of junk? If you're not sure how to tell the difference between an antique and old junk in an online storage auction buy, these steps will help. 

Check Identifying Marks

Many antique items, especially pottery, metalwork, glass and porcelain, will contain identifying marks or signatures intended to identify the artist or company that created the piece. Look carefully for those marks, then do some research on the piece. If there's still a manufacturer's website, they can give you a great idea of the general price of the piece. In the absence of a manufacturer, check eBay to discover the price point collectors are using for their pieces. Be sure to take note of items that have actually sold or have bids, not just items sitting with no bids!

Examine Your Furniture

Antique furniture is defined according to its age. General antiques dealers place antique furniture at 50 years old or more, while fine antiques dealers require furniture to be at least 150 years old. One of the best ways to tell whether a piece of furniture is an antique, however, is to look at how it is joined. Before machine-cut furniture became the norm around 1860, furniture joints were dovetailed by hand. Look for nicks, cuts or straight saw marks: if they're present, chances are, the furniture is handmade and potentially created before 1860. The absence of these marks along with perfect or closely spaced dovetails suggests the piece was machine made. 

Check Out the Paper

While your personal letters or a box of journals from someone in the modern area might not be all that valuable, old paperwork is! Examine the paperwork in storage units carefully. Letters or journals from historic periods, especially wars and other world events, can be of substantial value. Look at the paper, examine the handwriting and check any visible dates. You could be pleasantly surprised!

Evaluate Quality of the Items

One of the biggest hallmarks of antiques – as opposed to junk – is quality. Antiques were built to last. They're intended to stand the test of time, not to be replaced as soon as something newer comes on the market. They're well-built and functional intended, in general, to be used rather than simply looked at. Junk, on the other hand, is often broken, ill-maintained and clearly no longer functional. A storage unit full of junk may be filled with broken pieces and items that have little quality – and didn't have quality when they were made or stored, much less now. 

Keep in mind appearance has little to do with how valuable a piece is. The fact something looks old doesn't necessarily mean it's an antique – and trusting to appearances could land you with a storage unit full of junk. Knowing the difference between junk and antiques can make a big difference in your overall profits from your bids. If you do believe you've found something valuable, consult a reputable appraiser for an estimate of the value of your piece. Be wary, however, of appraisers who try to coax you to sell to them: this creates a conflict of interest that may lead you to not receiving what the items are really worth. 

The wide world of online storage auctions is exciting. You have the potential for great profits, especially as you learn to estimate the value of the units' contents. Ready to get started on your online storage auction journey?   

Register with us Today to Start Bidding on Items in Storage Unit Auctions.

Date: 09-18-2017