Should I take old unwanted things to charity shops or are they good enough to go to auction?

If you are downsizing your home, having a clear out or perhaps dealing with a house clearance due to the death of a loved one, you’ll probably be wondering about the value of the items in your house.  Before you pack up boxes for the charity shops, let Potteries Auctions guide you on spotting whether you have anything of value lurking in your cupboards or gathering dust on your shelves! 

On one of our recent valuation days an elderly lady walked in with a jewellery box full of mainly vintage costume jewellery, strings of pearls, old watches that were not working and other trinkets gathered over a lifetime.

She asked us to take a look at this collection of seemingly worthless jewellery and was just on the way to a charity shop, but wanted us to take a quick look over the contents of her jewellery box just to make sure before she went there.  She was pretty certain that there was nothing of value in there.

Whilst looking through this collection of jewellery, one of our eagle-eyed valuers spotted a silver colour pendant that did indeed look like a normal low value marcasite and silver pendant but on close inspection it was identified as being a very early 18th century diamond brooch. 

The diamond brooch that went on to sell at auction for £420. (A1811 lot 1320)
The diamond brooch that went on to sell at auction for £420. (A1811 lot 1320)

Also from the same jewellery box, what may have been classed as a worthless string of beads turned out to be a string of Butterscotch Amber beads that we sold to a Chinese buyer at auction. And so this lady was very happy to have come to see us and check ‘just in case’.

Butterscotch Amber beads that sold for £500 (A1907, lot 1340)
Butterscotch Amber beads that sold for £500 (A1907, lot 1340)

Another similar experience with another customer yielded an antique 15ct brooch set as insects with turquoise stones that sold for £380 and so once again, proving that it is better to be safe than sorry before boxing up items to send to the charity shop!

Antique 15ct brooch set as insects with turquoise stones that sold for £380 (A1811, lot 1302)
Antique 15ct brooch set as insects with turquoise stones that sold for £380 (A1811, lot 1302)

At Potteries Auctions we have many vendors who recognise this behaviour and capitalise on it themselves.  They will regularly go around charity shops looking for the many bargains they know they can find in there, and then bring their charity shop purchases to our saleroom to make huge mark ups on what they have paid the charities for the items!   

Our advice would be to bring along your items to one of our free valuation days prior to taking items to charity as you never can be sure what treasures might be in there.  Our experts will be able to quickly identify items of value, which we can then sell at auction to get the highest price we can for them.  As can be seen with the examples in this blog, these two people made over £1,300 at auction for items they deemed of no value and were just going to give away.

By all means, if you wish to then donate the proceeds to charity thereafter, you can. But the moral of the tale would be that neither you or the charity stands to lose out by just taking this small extra step.

Tuesday Valuations at The Silverdale Saleroom - 9.00am - 5.00pm, every Tuesday

If you have PotteryJewellerySilverwareCoinsStamps, WatchesMilitariaOriental ItemsPaintings & ArtModern & Antique FurnitureToys, or Collectable items you would like valued, they can be brought into the sale room every Tuesday for a FREE appraisal for sale without obligation. Our valuers will advise you on auction estimates and recommend the most appropriate sale. Reserve prices on items can be discussed with our valuers.

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 01782 638100 to arrange an appointment.

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