Do You Have C.R.U.D.?
By Lori Nelson
As an appraiser and instructor of a college antiques course, I am constantly
hearing that phrase, "But it's old!" Certainly age does matter, but only when
many other criteria have been met.
As an example, look at treadle sewing
machines. Every family used to have one. Many are true antiques, but the values
are low as a result of supply and demand.
I remember when arm-oires
experienced the same value vs. demand problem. Then someone thought to make
armoires into television cabinets, and presto, everyone wanted an armoire again.
It isn't age, but demand that created value in this instance.
In my classes,
students bring in a plethora of items. Many times, the stories told by ancient
relatives who passed it down bring hope of significance and added value. I hate
to disappoint, but I find myself explaining my C. R. U. D. theory over and over
So, what is CRUD?
First, there is Condition. Original or mint
condition is the most desirable. At least not broken, chipped or repaired.
Always look for the best condition available.
Rarity is next. When you type
your "rare" collectible into Ebay and find 13,120 others just like yours, what
you have is not so rare. This is why we are amazed at the exorbitant prices some
rather mundane articles bring. It is rarity that drive the prices so
Following rarity is Usability. If an item is useful, such as flatware
or a vase, it is something people need. Many little collectibles, such as
statues, knickknacks, ephemera, etc., are cute and sought after, but an item
that one will actually use is an item that will recoup more money. The rest
collect dust and have the "ooh, aah" factor, but what do you DO with a Hummel?
(No offense to Hummel collectors!)
Last, there is Demand. Perhaps the most
important component in this theory, demand drives all business in every aspect.
If an item is high demand, and especially if there are few to be had, you will
see value. Significant value. Usually more than you paid for an item; certainly
more than you expect if many people are searching for it. Of course, demand is
often sensitive and regional. A Coca-Cola item will not bring many inquiries
from Seattle, Washington; but try that item in the Atlanta metro area, and you
should see a difference. Green jadeite ware was all the rage before Martha
Stewart went to jail, and it was used as a backdrop on her show. Later, it took
a plunge, as she took one, too. Things pop in and out of popularity. Still, some
items remain in high demand year after year.
Do you have C.R.U.D.? That is
the question you must ask, if you want to pursue antiques or collectibles from a
money-making point of view. For now, search for CRUD amongst your belongings,
and please stop telling me what you have is old. That is old
Lori Nelson is a media personality, antiques appraiser
and gemologist. She teaches appraisal courses at Kennesaw University, Georgia.
Lori can be reached at 770-421-8368.