With the resurgence in the popularity of bone china, it is a good time to explain why the value of your teacup goes beyond what you see on Ebay. Here at The Teacup Attic, we get dozens upon dozens of emails every week from people either looking to establish the value of their collection or looking to sell their teacups. We find it important to educate customers on why the value of their teacup goes beyond Ebay and why that may not be a good indication of value.
Can I Have Your Number?
Many people are under the impression that if they can find their pieces online, they can easily establish the value of ones they own and more importantly sell at that price. Sometimes, this is true. Widely distributed china with named patterns like those made by Royal Albert, Aynsley and Paragon make finding an exact match to the one you have mostly effortless. In other instances, only pattern numbers were used in lieu of pattern names making the task more arduous. In fact, many people are under the impression that the numbers on the bottom of a teacup mean that they are numbered or limited edition, much like a painting and therefore more valuable. Pattern numbers made it easier for retailers to place orders from manufacturers when they were still producing these gorgeous wares. These numbers do not mean limited edition or increase the value of your teacup.
From zero to 60 and beyond
You may find that there can be widely varying price points and it can be difficult to ascertain exactly how much an item is worth. Remember, that sites like Etsy and Ebay, you have educated dealers and casual sellers peddling a variety of wares. Both scenarios can contribute to price variations. A listing price does not equate to value especially when considered on its own without influential factors. Most importantly, just because something is listed online for a particular price, it doesn’t mean that the item will sell for that price. Reputable dealers will be able to justify and back up their prices with solid information. They won’t be pulling numbers out of the sky. This applies to items at both ends of the spectrum.
In order to make a fair comparison, several factors affecting value must be considered. Brand, pattern, age, condition, color, desirability, and rarity are key components but market conditions, as well as the type of value required, and all of these will impact the final numbers. Sometimes the equation can be somewhat complex. A certified personal property appraiser will be able to pinpoint what type of value and appraisal is required.
Not All Teacups Are Equal
Within each brand, different patterns can have surprisingly different values. In the case of Royal Albert’s Senorita shown below, its rarity and desirability having it selling in the $125 USD to $150 USD range as opposed to the widely available Royal Albert Old Country Roses that is more accessible at $20 USD to $40 USD because of its wide availability.
These Shelley teacups were all made in the same time period, they are all the same shape and they all have the same pattern. The difference is in color and therefore availability. On the lower end of the spectrum, this dainty pattern in blue sells for approximately $40 USD to $60 USD but the rarest black dainty often sells for over $700 USD and that’s when it even becomes available. It is often considered a “unicorn teacup” because it is extremely hard to find.
Apples To Oranges
Some may be surprised to find that pieces with the same pattern may differ according to pattern size and placement. In the examples below, the pattern on the left is much smaller while the pattern of the right covers the entire bowl of the teacup. The latter is much more desired by collectors, a factor that increases the price.
Cataloguing Versus Appraising
Some collectors are under the impression that good record-keeping and cataloging are all that is needed to establish the value of a collection. While cataloging your pieces with photographs and keeping receipts is always a good practice, it may not suffice especially with higher value collections. Over time, market conditions, changes in desirability, rarity, condition, and other factors can change the value of the pieces in your possession. An inventory of your pieces may not be accepted by your insurance company if you require a special rider on your policy. The clear and defined method of establishing value, especially when dealing with official requirements like insurance or estate settlement is an appraisal by a qualified expert. Should you always get an appraisal? An experienced appraiser will let you know when and if an appraisal makes sense for your collection based on your needs.
Have you always wondered if you have high-value teacups in your collection? Contact us to see if an appraisal is right for you.
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