Valuing Collections

I collect kitschy things, I admit. When my late grandmother left me three paintings, she started me on a lifetime of collecting artwork called reverse painting (only flowers, fruit or birds, thank you!). I also collect and display blue willow platters (and confess that I have about 200 various pieces), because I inherited blue  dishes. I will not even try to explain why I collect milk-glass hens.  I have sincere empathy for my clients who try to explain to me why they have collected all of the things they have in their homes!

Part of the fun of the work that we do at Simplified Lives is to see all of the wonderful things that people have collected. On the other hand, we see people who are completely overwhelmed with items they have collected over a lifetime. Clients show us attics and basements full of inherited collections such as coins, stamps and military paraphernalia, and they have no idea what they are worth, or how to sell them and get an honest price.

Our clients include collectors who have a personal fondness for sports or a favorite object (think model cars, beer bottles, porcelain figurines, or tea cups). Some collectors who have decided to downsize or move are astonished when their children do not want to inherit their prized collections!

One of the challenges we find when we are helping a client liquidate a collection is to figure-out the true value.  Our clients often say that a friend or relative told them that they saw something just like their collection for sale on the Internet for big money.  We advise our clients to seek a professional appraisal – and we explain that what something is listed for on the Internet is not the same thing as what an object or collection sells for. The real value is what someone will pay to acquire the item or collection.

Simplified Lives recently worked with a client who had been purchasing coins as part of his retirement plan and because he liked collecting coins.  This gentleman was ready to liquidate his entire collection – and much to his dismay the prices he had paid for the coins were significantly higher than their current value.  We do find that individuals are susceptible to unscrupulous dealers in many arenas. When purchasing items to collect, it is wise to remember that the Internet is a wonderful tool to see what items sell for – not what they are listed for but their actual selling price.  We advise serious collectors to work with a knowledgeable and reputable estate appraiser to provide a proper evaluation for estate planning, insurance and marketing purposes.

If you need a professional written report for equitable disposition, tax reporting, or donation, we recommend you contact Associated Estate & Appraisal Company at (401) 954-6021. Please also feel free to send us an email at

By Valerie Achorn

Valerie Achorn, M.P.A., President of Simplified Lives has many years of experience managing moves for clients around the country. Holding a Master’s Degree in Public Administration (M.P.A.) from Harvard University, Valerie brings a broad management background and savvy networking skills to Simplified Lives.