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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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.

 

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.