Bargains To Be Had At Car Boots, the Local Tip & Charity Shops

Set of SEVEN early graduated bronze Imperial measures for the County of Worcester comprising Imperial Gallon to Imperial half Gill, each stamped VR and ER sold for £3700

This week, Rod, our resident valuer shares his thoughts on car boots and table top sales. He finds that people with valuable possessions often unwittingly sell or give away items through car boots, table top sales and charity shops and similar outlets, when there is a potential mini-fortune to be had in auctioning off items instead. This is a guide to help you avoid the pitfalls!

“Let’s talk about car boot and table top sales, charity shops and the local municipal tip or refuse recycling centre.  All of these play a vital role in helping to process many millions of unwanted household goods, toys, clothes and bric a brac each year.  However, do you realise just how many valuable items are thrown away, sold for a pittance or given to charity? It will really surprise you. 

Take charity shops, now I’m the first one to say that you should support your local or favourite charity, so does it really matter if you give something to charity that turns out to be valuable? Within reason, no of course not.  Charity shops are staffed by kind and caring individuals, who often research the items given to them before selling them, but they are not specialists in antiques and collectables, and all too often, the real treasures and valuables are picked up for a few pounds by a growing army of sharp eyed collectors and antiques dabblers who frequent charity shops in order to pick off the treasures they find there.

Lot 1372 in November 2019 Auction: Large outstanding oval French engraved brass carriage clock, quarter repeating, striking, plus alarm, day and date features and subsidiary dials fetched £2200

Lot 1372 in November 2019 Auction: Large outstanding oval French engraved brass carriage clock, quarter repeating, striking, plus alarm, day and date features and subsidiary dials fetched £2200 

Increasingly now, charities are turning to us for advice and assistance in identifying and selling their more valuable items, but they are still missing many of the more obscure things, selling them off for buttons.

Then we have the car boot sale.  What a godsend for people faced with a good Spring sort out, house move or an elderly relatives house to clear!  Now, no one in their right mind would sell a valuable treasure for a couple of pounds would they?  Valuable Jewellery, works of art, rare ceramics, well think again. 

Have you ever wondered why, when some cars arrive at the car boot sale, it is mobbed by an army of keen individuals? This regular band of treasure hunters quickly identify a ‘new arrival’ as opposed to the regular seasoned car boot sellers that make a living from selling at car boot sales, and are far less likely to sell a valuable item for a couple of pounds.  The ‘fresh meat’ is quickly pounced upon, and an inevitable bun fight often occurs in an effort to divest the occupants of any treasures they may have overlooked, meanwhile fleecing them for a few pounds. Sound familiar?  Now this doesn’t happen all the time, but it happens often enough to keep the treasure hunters keen. 

How do we know all this? Well, it will come as little surprise that it is to us these car boot and charity shop treasure hunters turn.  These people will often come to specialist auctioneers and experts like ourselves for advice and assistance in selling, often gloating how little they paid from a charity shop or car boot sale.  News that might well taste a little sour if you are the victim perhaps.

Lot 67 July 2019 auction: T Goode & Co. London Wemyss ware Jug and Bowl: Wemyss Jug and Bowl decorated all around with mallard ducks sold for £2500

Lot 67 July 2019 auction: T Goode & Co. London Wemyss ware Jug and Bowl: Wemyss Jug and Bowl decorated all around with mallard ducks sold for £2500

Very recently, a Chinese enamel vessel was sold at auction for £50,000, the vendor proudly boasting that he had purchased this item recently at a car boot sale, and quite rightly, a good earner for him it turned out to be.  The owner, probably still completely unaware that they had given away a small fortune, hopefully will never get to hear of this, as news like this could really ruin your day.

And last, but by no means least, let’s turn our attentions to the good old local tip.  You would not believe what people throw away!

We are regularly asked to sell items that have been thrown away, jewellery, silver and coins being exceedingly common items finding their way to the tip.   I can offer no rational explanation for this, but there is also a whole host of other items equally baffling to me that end up there too.

In fairness, a lot of the valuables are either paper related, like old books and postcards, or are dusty, tarnished or otherwise not looking their best, but nevertheless we are still talking about valuable things.  Sadly, much of this material comes from deceased estates, where relatives are overwhelmed with the amount of material they have to deal with, and a very common situation for us is when we are asked to value some furniture and ceramics, prior to the house being sold, only to find that the executors have carefully thrown away all the albums of old postcards and cigarette cards, old leaflets and books, radios and old instruments they thought was just old fashioned junk.

Lot 320 in October 2019 auction: A large collection of 1980's retro toys including: Action Man, Action Force, Lego, Battle Action sets sold for £400

Lot 320 in October 2019 auction: A large collection of 1980's retro toys including: Action Man, Action Force, Lego, Battle Action sets sold for £400 

So where you might find a ‘worthless’ fountain pen, a vase that has been on the mantelpiece for years, pamphlets collected about a certain subject matter, old posters, prints, corkscrews, letter openers… this list is endless..  We find time and time again that the potentially valuable items have been thrown away. 

There is one further rub in throwing away ‘junk’ like this though.  Companies have to tender to the council for the right to sort through the rubbish at the tip.  This is not a pleasant job, but they PAY for the right to sift through all the rubbish, and then harvest off the goodies.  The only reason they do this is for treasure they know is in there, and there is plenty of it.

If you want to potentially avoid making the treasure hunters rich, why not seek out our professional and expert, free advice?  Let us realise the FULL potential of your possessions at auction, and if you want to then make a donation to charity, you can decide how much you want to give.  

Talk to our team of experts who will be able to give you an accurate auction estimate on many household items.  You can join us at one of our valuation days, email us for an appointment [email protected]  or call us on +44 (0)1782 638100 Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. 

Email Valuations

If you can't come in and see us in person send us an email to [email protected] with details and a photograph (eg make, model, model number, measurements, condition) and one of our experts will provide information and auction estimates. Alternatively, give us a call on 0)1782 638100 to arrange an appointment.

 

 

 

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