Separating Heirlooms From Clutter

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Perhaps you’re just starting to plan your move. Or you’ve inherited a relative’s home and you can’t tell the junk from the gems. Whatever the case, it’s possible that there is a potential treasure trove of antiques and collectibles all around you. The trick is figuring out what’s actually valuable and what’s just taking up space. 

Here are some tips to guide you through the process. 

Check the Construction 

Furniture that’s well-made of solid wood and other items with hand-painted details or unique markings are good signs you may have an antique. Look for dovetail joints, hand carving, and quality craftsmanship. Mass-produced, machine-made furniture and decorative items from the early 1900s onward, while old, usually aren’t considered antiques. Materials like particle board or plastic are good signs that the stuff holds little value. Also, keep in mind that some “antiques” like colonial and French Provincial-style furniture may in fact be reproductions.  

Do Some Exploratory Research 

Go online and investigate different styles and periods as well as what people are looking for. For example, Art Deco pieces from the 1920s and ‘30s have become perennially popular, while Victorian furnishings are now less desirable – and the value of mid-century modern furniture and accessories is skyrocketing. Certain regions are also known for prized antiques, like silver from New England or Native American pottery from the Southwest. 

Once you’ve identified the pieces that seem promising, look for markings, stamps, or labels that could supply clues to their origin and authenticity. Online listings on sites like Craigslist and eBay can help determine fair prices for items similar to yours. While market value isn’t the only factor in deciding what qualifies as an heirloom, it can provide good insight into items that are rare, sought after by collectors or have appreciated substantially over time. 

Call in The Experts 

If you’re still not sure about what you have, it’s worth the small investment required to get your potential treasures appraised by an expert. They can accurately assess the age, condition, and authenticity to determine if the old vase from grandma’s attic and that musty oil painting in the cellar are worth holding onto. Consider having antiques or valuable collectibles appraised for insurance purposes in case of damage or loss. Proceed with caution if you work with an antiques dealer: They have a vested interest in acquiring your items as cheaply as possible.  

Donate or Discard the Rest 

For whatever’s left donating or discarding is probably your best choice. Local charities like food banks, shelters, thrift stores and children’s organizations are all good options for donating used but still functional items. Depending on your timeframe, you could also hold an estate sale or garage sale.  

Hire a Professional Moving Company  

Now that you’ve separated the best from the rest, why not consider hiring a professional mover like United Van lines, to move your valuables wherever they need to go? United’s full-service moving packages for long-distance moves provide flexibility to mix and match the services you want and need, from packing and unpacking to standard furniture placement.  And the peace of mind you’ll have is priceless. 

Get a quote from United Van Lines today.   

Do you need help settling in? Check out our other blogs for moving tips and packing advice, as well as city guides and a wealth of other helpful, time-saving information.  

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