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Trash or Treasure: Assessing Your Possessions

One personal junk is another personal treasure. Never is that more true than when you are doing a spring clean up.

The good weather held out for Fred Dowling's 25th anniversary junk day and treasure exchange. Each year for the past 25 years, co-op residents have gathered in the spirit of reducing, reusing, recycling of their possessions. Residents trade and dispose of unwanted items; it's a win-win situation, all around. This year an Antiques Road Show was added to the day. I was on-hand as residents brought their prized possessions and family heirlooms to be appraised.

Some of the riches unearthed include: a 1953 Coronation toy carriage at $350; a Queen Victoria Jubilee milk pitcher at $175;a pearl brooch for $250; an antique desk for $275. The "piece de resistance" was a silver and diamond necklace valued at $750.

Here are some things to keep in mind when assessing the value of your items.


Chips, cracks and breaks on crystal, glass, porcelain and ceramics reduces the value of anything to a very minimal amount. Despite that fact, any item can have sentimental value even those with damage can have value to you.

Spotting Damage

Sometimes you can't tell if a piece of porcelain is cracked. Use the ping test ? flicking you're your thumb and finger again the porcelain. If it gives a ping sound, there are no cracks. If it gives a thud sound, it is damaged. The same test applies to crystal.


Appraised value, retail value and your selling value are all different amounts.

The appraised value, sometimes called the insurance value is the amount that you would insure an item for. It is based on the amount you would have to pay to replace the item if it made an insurance claim.

The retail value is the amount that a store would sell it for. Your selling price is the amount that you would get if you sold it.

Your selling price will always be less than the retail value because most likely, you would sell your item to a dealer who in turn marks up the price.

Martin Swinton owns Take-A-Boo Emporium, an antique shop located in Toronto, Canada. He does furniture restoration, caning and rushing repairs, custom reproductions, upholstery, teaches courses on antiques and does appraisals for estates and community events. He can be reached at 416-785-4555 or by visiting

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