Hidden Treasures / Tin Toys

It’s not unusual to come across old toys at your estate sale. You may be tempted to dismiss them and put them on your “toys and misc. stuff” table. But it may be worth your while to do a little research first.

 

Tin Windup Toys


Antique and vintage tin windup toys are very collectible, and have statistically increased in value by about 15% per year. In some cases they can be surprisingly valuable, such as the vintage 1930’s toy that recently sold on eBay for over $6,000.  More typical is this windup roller coaster, manufactured in the 1930’s in the U.S. by the J. Chien Toy Company. Its current value ranges from $75 to $100 depending on condition.

 

A Little Bit of History


So, how do you identify a vintage or antique tin toy? Here’s a little bit of background information that should help. First, the terms “vintage” and “antique” generally refer to a toy made before 1965. Tin toys were being produced as early as the mid-1800s in many countries, including Germany, England, France and Japan. By the 1950s Louis Marx and Company in the U.S. was the largest toy manufacturer in the world.

Then in the 1960s the U.S. began regulations to reduce the dangers of materials used in making toys, including the tin and paints being used. Plastics then became the material of choice in toy manufacturing, because they are easy to use, make a soft durable toy, and cost less than other materials.

 

What is Collectible?


 

Japanese toys made in the 1950s and 1960s are some of the most collectible tin toys today. Space and science themes, such as spaceships and robots, tend to have the highest resale market values, though of course values depend heavily on condition. Toys that have no broken or missing parts, that have their original paperwork and packaging, and are in good condition are the most valuable.

Is it Vintage or a Reproduction?


There are plenty of vintage toy reproductions toys on the market, and keep in mind that just because your grandmother owned it doesn’t mean it’s an antique. Look carefully at the toy for clues to its age. If it’s pristine and has vibrant colors that look new, it’s probably a reproduction. Also look at the screws used to assemble the toy; if they are Phillips-head screws then it’s a reproduction. Look for maker’s marks or any indication of where it was made.

Next, take a picture of the toy and download it to Google Images to find other similar toys; this can give you a clue of its maker and when it may have been produced. Once you’ve identified the toy and its age and origin, you can research its resale value.

 

What's it Worth?


Now that you’ve identified your toy, go to online auction and resale sites to determine a reasonable value. Remember, you’re looking for sale prices, not asking prices, so look for information on recent sales in your area. Keep in mind that “condition is everything” when you’re setting your asking price. If you have a more valuable vintage or antique toy, either set a minimum price for your sale, or look online for collectors who might make a better offer.

 


Be sure you know what you’ve got by doing your research, before you price that item. 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.

 

 

Average Income Estate Liquidator Business

The estate sale business is booming. This business is truly recession-proof as executors look for help in selling personal property left in an estate, as well as baby boomers who are downsizing and selling many of their belongings. In fact, baby boomers are a large part of an estate sale liquidator’s business.

Recently I read on Indeed.com that the average income for an estate sale liquidator is $66,000.

Although I’m not sure how accurate that statement is, I do know that if the estate sale agent is trained, educated and committed to hard work, they should easily exceed that $66,000 average.

Consider this: The average estate sale company charges anywhere from 25% to 40% of the total proceeds, with 30% being the norm. If the company conducts a sale with end-of-sale proceeds equaling $8,000 and they charged 30%, the estate sale company has earned $2,400 for that sale!! Of course, there are labor charges for helpers, and other expenses. But I can assure you the other expenses we pay are very low compared to other occupations.

So, let’s say the company only cleared $2,000 and they conducted 3 sales that month. Take $6,000 x 11 months you do come up with $66,000. Some sale proceeds are much higher than $8,000, and some are lower. I would say $66,000 or higher is a very nice income and you can be your own boss!

But, let me caution you that conducting a sale for someone else is a large responsibility. You are not only pricing and selling items, but you will be held responsible for every aspect of the sale. It takes ongoing education and training to maintain a successful estate sale company.

 

Does Your Insurance Cover That?

It pays to read your policy. You should have General Liability Insurance to cover injury, damage or theft during your estate sales, but do you know exactly what is covered? An incident at one of our sales lead me to take a closer look at our policy, and revealed some interesting details.

 

Guidelines for a “Partial” Sale


We were contracted to perform an estate sale for an elderly couple moving to assisted living. They were selling most, but not all, of their belongings, and they were still living in the house. Some companies don’t accept sales under these circumstances, but we do. And we have very specific rules that we clearly communicate to the client, both in our conversations and in our contract.

  1. Any items that are not to be sold must be either secured by the client, or removed from the home prior to the start of the sale.
  2. All jewelry and other valuables must be removed from the home.
  3. We are not responsible for any items left in the home that are not part of the sale.

 

An Unfortunate Occurrence


The husband showed early signs of dementia, which was confirmed by the wife. Apparently he didn’t remember our instructions about securing valuables and jewelry. He removed two rings from his fingers and left them on the bedroom dresser before the sale. Despite having workers throughout the house who are trained to watch for theft, within ten minutes of opening the sale both rings had been stolen. It only takes a moment to slip something like a ring into a pocket, and it’s gone. Naturally, both the husband and wife were distraught, and asked us to check if our insurance would cover the loss.

 

Check with Your Agent


  1. I’m familiar with our policy and was sure the theft (also called a “mysterious disappearance”) would not be covered. But when I called our insurance carrier and talked to them, I was surprised to learn a few things about our policy.
  2. If the rings had been included as part of the sale and were stolen, they probably would have been covered by our policy.
  3. If the home had been broken into and the rings (or other items included in the sale) were stolen, they would have been covered as long as there was evidence of the theft (broken door, window, etc.).
  4. If we broke or damaged an item in the home, it would have been covered by our policy.

 

A Thorough Inventory


Our insurance representative emphasized the importance of having a complete inventory of all items contracted to be sold, including photos and descriptions. You’ll have photos of larger items you use to advertise your sale, but do you have photos and descriptions of smaller, valuable items such as jewelry, coins, sterling, gold, and art? You should include photos as part of your inventory (attached to your contract), along with copies of any appraisals. This is particularly important in the case of vacant homes, since the chance of an overnight break-in is higher.

 

Check Your Policy and Contract


Even if you’re sure you know what your policy covers and what is in your standard contract, it’s always a good idea to review both from time to time. Have specific language in your contract stating that non-sale items must be removed or secured by the client, and that you are not responsible for any non-sale items left in the house. You may also want to point out to your client that a theft of this nature may not be covered by their homeowner’s policy.

  • 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.