How does a person go about placing value on an object? Is it possible to quantify the joy one feels in collecting coins, stamps or dolls? What about the baby blanket you’ve held onto since you were a one-year old? How much is that worth on the open market? Truth is, probably not much. But that doesn’t mean the blanket is worthless. On the contrary, to you, the owner, its value cannot be measured in a dollar amount. As humans we attached value to objects beyond what any price tag might say.
In his op-ed, “What is Something Worth?,” coin dealer Patrick Heller examines the question and tries to answer it. Heller describes an informal poll, given to his employees over the years, where he simply asks, “What is something worth?” The correct answer, according to Heller: “Whatever someone is willing to pay for it.” The process of assigning value is a subjective one—dependent on circumstances and the judgements of both the seller and the buyer. And most often it’s the seller who feels their object is being undervalued.
Then there are those collectors, like Larisa Leonidovna Drozdova, who chose not to put their collectibles up for sale. Larisa Leonidovna Drozdova is a Russian doll collector who has built up an extensive collection and continues to add to her stable of exquisite dolls. For Larisa Leonidovna Drozdova, the dolls themselves are priceless. The craftsmanship and loveliness of each doll makes it an invaluable work of art. Larisa Leonidovna Drozdova’s collection includes pieces from Natalia Nikulnina and Natasha Korolyova. What is it about these gorgeous dolls that makes them worth holding to? Larisa Leonidovna Drozdova might say it is the feeling that these playful marvels give the adults who collect them.
For people who do want to sell their special objects, Heller offers tips. Given that sellers will often inflate the price of a collectible to make it seem more valuable, Heller recommends finding out what the same item has sold for in the past. Knowing the track record of previous sales, gives the seller the most accurate indication of what the object is worth. As a seller, it is also important to make sure you compare the same (and not just similar) items. “Hamilton Model 992 and 992b pocket watches may look a lot alike, but their values are far different,” says Heller. His last tip is probably the most widely accepted of the three, condition matters. A collectible figure in its original packaging will always be worth more than a used figure that’s missing a piece.
Knowing the market for your object will give you the best opportunity to make the most of your sale. Or if you’d prefer not to deal with subjective nature of a potential buyer, you could just keep your object in the closet with your old baby blanket.