How to Find the Value of Antique Dishware

By Jo Burns

Antique dishes can be especially sentimental items if they have been passed down through the family. The owner may recall holiday meals and other special events when the dishes were used. Even if your antique dishes were recently purchased at a yard sale, you may be anticipating the fun of using them for your special gatherings. While the sentimental value may be priceless, there are several reliable sources to find out the monetary value for your antique dishes.

Learn everything you can about your antique dishes. Look for maker's marks and other information that might tell you when and where they were manufactured. If your dishes are a family heirloom, ask the older people in your family what they know about them. The more information you have, the more accurately you will be able to assign a monetary value.

Determine which type of value you want to know. There are several different standards for pricing antique dishes.

Insurance value is typically the highest because it is considered the replacement value. An insurance appraisal is necessary to replace your antique dishes if they are destroyed, stolen or lost.

Estate or tax value is often assigned by the IRS during property seizure. Estate value is determined by averaging recent auction prices for similar dishes.

Retail value is the price your dishes would sell for in an antique store.

Fair market value is determined by the will of the buyer and the seller. For instance, dishes similar to yours may sell for one dollar at an antique store, but you offer yours at five dollars because you believe the clarity of the pattern in your set is superb. A buyer agrees with you and pays the five dollars. This is fair market value.

Wholesale value is the price an antique dealer will pay for your dishes. It is usually about one-third of the retail value.

Comparison-shop locally and online to estimate the value of your dishes. Search local antique stores and stores online to learn what others are buying and selling similar dishes for.

Use a price guide such as Kovels. There are several printed and online guides with specific information about antique dishes.

Pay an accredited appraiser to value your dishes. They can be found at antique fairs, auction houses, in the phone book or online. You may also ask an established antique dealer for a recommendation.

Tip

Don't rely on just one source to value your antique dishes. Obtain several different opinions from several sources. Average all the suggested prices for a reasonable estimate of your dishes' value.

When using printed price guides, do your research at the local library to avoid having to purchase several books you may never use again

Warning

It is unethical for an accredited appraiser to make an offer to buy the antiques he or she is pricing. Don't sell your antique dishes to a dealer or appraiser unless you have adequate knowledge about the value of your items.