How to Sell Antique Lamps

By Gryphon Adams

Selling an antique lamp has as many pitfalls as any other do-it-yourself project. A few are specific to the antiques market, such as dealing with reproductions and risks of harming an item's value. When selling an antique lamp, if possible, consult with a knowledgeable, trusted friend, find a reputable dealer by referral or have a professional appraisal before you begin. A common problem for people new to selling is getting stuck on trying to earn top dollar and then missing opportunities to make a sale at a fair price.

Selling on Your Own

On a padded, well-lit surface, examine the lamp with a magnifying glass. Handle with care. Make a note of materials (brass and glass), specifics (red glass, possibly hand-blown) and marks, such as a manufacturer's stamp or artist's signature, and any information about era or provenance. Detail its condition. Does it still work? Is anything missing? Are there cracks, chips or other damage? Note any texture to the metal or glass--anything that particularizes the lamp.

Do Internet searches on eBay, Amazon and sites specializing in antique lamps. Take photographs of the lamp and show it to reputable dealers. Browse local antique shops. If you locate any similar lamps, note the prices. Be aware that an asking price doesn't mean that's what it will sell for. Consult Kovel's and other antique price guides. These are available at libraries.

If possible, locate price information for comparable lamps that have sold. If you have an eBay account, or know someone who does, search "Completed Listings." Watch auctions online or offline to learn about antique lamps and what they sell for.

Once you have a price range, consider options for selling it. One possibility is to show the photos to friends who enjoy antiques. If you have a number of items to sell, you might try a flea market or antique show. Be aware there is a fee, and risk of damage.

Look into online auctions. Read all the instructions to understand the fees and rules. It's possible to set a reserve price, the lowest price you're willing to sell for.

Selling Through Professionals

Consider a local consignment shop or auction house. Read the contract carefully. It's common for the house to take 30 to 50 percent of the sale price.

One of the fastest ways to sell an antique lamp is to sell it to a dealer. Be aware the dealer will only pay 50 percent or less of what the dealer hopes to sell it for.

If you aren't set up to sell on eBay, there are professionals who will do it for you. Fees and results vary.

Tip

Don't attempt to clean an antique lamp. Amateur cleaning may result in damage and loss of value.

Refrain from removing or changing anything original to the lamp.

Use bubble wrap and double-box (pack one box inside a second larger box with padding) to transport or ship.

Warning

Safety first: Avoid having a stranger come to the house. Some thieves locate victims via classified ads online or in newspapers.

About the Author

Gryphon Adams began publishing in 1985. He contributed to the "San Francisco Chronicle" and "Dark Voices." Adams writes about a variety of topics, including teaching, floral design, landscaping and home furnishings. Adams is a certified health educator and a massage practitioner. He received his Master of Fine Arts at San Francisco State University.