The Value of an Olympic Torch

I never thought I’d see a genuine Olympic torch up close and personal, much less sell one. But, that’s what so fun and interesting about estate sales: you never know what you’ll come across.

 

 

 

The Provenance of the Torch


Our client had been an executive assistant at the Coca Cola company for many years, and one of her various responsibilities included working with Coke’s sponsorship of the Olympic games. She’d attended and worked at many Olympics over the years, but her participation in the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter games helping with the torch relay garnered a special and rare gift of appreciation: an actual relay torch.

The Origin of the Torch Relay


The purpose of the relay torch marathon is to transport the Olympic Flame from Olympia, Greece to the site of the games, wherever they are taking place that year, in time for the opening ceremony. “The Torch” is not transported the full distance, it is only used as a mean of transporting the flame which represents the spirit of the games. The concept of the torch relay was introduced and first organized by Carl Diem for the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.

The Salt Lake City Olympics


For the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, a total of 12,012 torches were used by 12,012 torch bearers to transport the flame. In addition to the torches made for transporting the flame, many more torches (which are not part of the relay and are never lit) are made to be presented to sponsors, dignitaries, and notable supporters of the games. Our client was presented with one of these unlit torches in appreciation of her work.

Determining the Value


My journey to determine the value of this torch began with online research. There are numerous sites to find recent sale information, but the challenge was finding examples of torches that were comparable in age and condition. Our client’s torch was in pristine condition, kept in a box to protect it, and came with written provenance. I was able to find several Salt Lake City Winter Olympics torches sold for prices as low as $667.77 (some missing pieces and/or damaged) and as high as $1,160.00 (used, in good condition, with provenance). Whether the torch had been used or not did not seem to affect the sale price.

Finding a Buyer


We advertised the torch for about three weeks on a nation estate sale website and other regional sites and were able to find a buyer who paid a good price for it. I cannot disclose the price paid to my client for the torch, but the dealer who bought it went on to resell it for $1,667.77 and our client was happy with what they received for it. In this particular case, the ultimate sale price may have been affected by the torch’s connection with Coca Cola, since there are many Coke collectors worldwide.


And that’s the job of an estate sale agent – selling your client’s items for a price they’re satisfied with, or providing documentation backing up the market value if the client was expecting more.

- Donna

Donna Davis has over twenty years of experience in the antiques and estate sale business, and conducts sales every weekend in the Greater Atlanta Area. She is also the Founder and Director of the National Association of Estate Liquidators, and Lead Instructor of NAOEL’s online school. You can contact Donna by email at donna@naoel.com or by phone at 770-235-7638.

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PEZ Dispensers at Estate Sales?

I have to admit that even though they’ve been around for decades, I had no idea the potential value of these funny little candy dispensers. Vintage and rare PEZ dispensers routinely sell for hundreds of dollars, and believe it or not the rarest dispensers have sold for thousands. Although you might not see many of them at estate sales, keep your eye out for the occasional collector.

 

What is a PEZ Dispenser?


Most people are familiar with PEZ candy and the fun dispensers they come in. The original dispensers made in the 40s and 50s were designed to look like a lighter and held mints which were promoted to help stop smoking. In the mid-50s PEZ began marketing the sweeter candy to children and featuring the character heads we are more familiar with, as well as other unique shapes such as a laser gun.

What is a Vintage PEZ Dispenser Worth?


Vintage dispensers (especially if they’re in original packaging) often sell in the $100-$200 range on eBay, and some rare dispensers have sold for up to $500. The PEZ company website has a photographic history of their dispensers, so you may want to make yourself familiar with the vintage designs that may fetch a higher price from collectors. Go to their Collector’s Corner and click on Dispenser Archive by Year.

Rare PEZ Dispensers


Dispensers are considered “rare” usually because a very small number of them were produced, or tghey were made for a particular event. According to this eBay article, some of the rarest dispensers include the Mickey Mouse Softhead, the 1982 World’s Fair, and the Political Donkey and Elephant, and they can sell for thousands of dollars. Recently a rare green-eyed cow sold on eBay for $950.

Finding Vintage PEZ Dispensers


Where are you likely to find PEZ dispensers if they are part of your upcoming estate sale? Just about anywhere! But particularly look in boxes, bags, or groups of toys, especially smaller plastic toys. Check household storage areas such as attics and basements among items that have been “packed away.” But, don’t overlook unusual places such as bureau drawers and the kitchen “junk drawer.”

Watch especially for dispensers still in their original packaging. You can search on eBay for the type of dispenser and look for recent sales in your area to determine its value.


Have you come across any rare or unusual PEZ dispensers? Share your success stories!

Stay tuned to Tales From the Sales for more insightful and valuable articles.

  • Donna

Donna Davis has over twenty years of experience in the antiques and estate sale business, and conducts sales every weekend in the Greater Atlanta Area. She is also the Founder and Director of the National Association of Estate Liquidators, and Lead Instructor of NAOEL’s online school. You can contact Donna by email at donna@naoel.com or by phone at 800-521-8820.

 

Become a Member of the National Association of Estate Liquidators and enjoy all of the benefits we offer.

 

Vintage Halloween Collectibles

Vintage Papier Mache Halloween Decorations


What do you think these types of papier mache jack-o’-lanterns are worth? If they’re vintage – made before the 1960s – and in good condition, they can go for $60 - $100 each. A jack-o’-lantern with a face on two sides can sell for as much as $200. Many papier mache and one-time-use items that have survived in good condition can be valuable.

Even though the holiday season is behind us, you may come across unique or older-looking Halloween decorations in one of your estate sales. Be sure to take a close look at those items and do your research. That inexpensive-looking pumpkin, skeleton, witch, or black cat could be worth quite a bit more than you think.

 

Black Cat Decorations Are Sought-After


Black cats have long been one of the more popular Halloween designs. This vintage tambourine can start at $80, and highly collectible black cat designs can go for as high as $300. Also, watch for black cat Halloween designs in ceramics, candles, papier mache, and candy carriers.

Vintage German Diecut Decorations


Keep an eye out for diecut Halloween decorations. Vintage items made in the early 1900s in Germany can be very detailed and often sell in the $100 - $200 range, depending on condition. You can see examples here. Even items made later in the U.S. can be collectible.

Watch Out for Fakes and Reproductions


Since a lot of vintage Halloween decorations were simply made, there are plenty of reproductions and fakes on the market. Keep in mind that earlier decorations were made to be scarier than most of today’s decorations, so an item with a cute (or franchised) character probably is not vintage. Also, look for signs of age such as dull paint or finish, chips, crackling, or cracks. The RealOrRepro website has an excellent article about papier mache Halloween reproductions and includes photos of vintage designs.


Remember, just because it looks “cheap” doesn’t mean it doesn’t have value. Even aged, worn, or slightly damaged vintage Halloween decorations can be worth more than you’d think.

  • Donna

Donna Davis has over twenty years of experience in the antiques and estate sale business, and conducts sales every weekend in the Greater Atlanta Area. She is also the Founder and Director of the National Association of Estate Liquidators, and Lead Instructor of NAOEL’s online school. You can contact Donna by email at donna@naoel.com or by phone at 800-521-8820.

 

Become a Member of the National Association of Estate Liquidators and enjoy all of the benefits we offer.