Every collector wants to feel their collection is appreciated as time goes by but it’s clear over the past 20 years there have been few changes to prices and more confusion as to where the true values lie with antique tools. One of the reasons for this has been the disjointed selling approach of individual collectors and dealers alike. eBay seemed to empower many but because of its lack of sense of community and passion for the subject we have seen many tools sold below their true value and these Low & High recorded prices influence future decisions of collectors.
With the unreliability of eBay, this has meant many sellers now opt for ‘Buy it Now’ prices when selling Antique tools which can either seem extreme when compared to the lowest prices made on auction. The confusion is then compounded by extreme prices on freak occasions where it’s possible there was no sale at all, returns, or just hijacked accounts and fraudulent payments.
Day’s gone by, and every good collector who knew their subject had a chance at finding the odd treasure at a bargain price, however, with what’s happening online those bargains are becoming less common as the unknowing public use eBay to assess the value their inherited tools. Often this results in over-optimistic demands by those selling them as they do tend to base their own value on the highest prices without understanding the difference between why similar items have a price range depending on condition and originality.
History: Having traded online for some 20 years we have seen firsthand how eBay has destroyed many ceramic and other collections values. On every occasion, there has been a golden age followed by more depressing times as everyone becomes the next expert following those they wish to emulate, often poorly. eBay separates and divides, it doesn’t create leaders in the industry, loyalty and reputation are never a factor, which leads to inconsistencies and loss of confidence from the buyer.
Google which is a far bigger market and it looks for specialists and leaders in subjects, where good professional bespoke dedicated websites generally tend to flourish when the investment, best practices, and time have been applied.
Times are changing: Almost every well-established physical auction is moving online using third-party facilities such as thesaleroom.com but buyers have approx 6% additional charge to pay on top of usual auctioneer commissions for this service. There is no holding back the tide in this regard but it can be done better and without those additional charges with investment and know-how by the auctioneers. This bridge though sounds easier than it seems and isn’t easy to do without using a third party.
The old tool market needs some constructive order to it: We have seen with Tooltique that some dealers and the public are often using our prices as a guide, although often without the hard work we undertake to improve user tools back to a high standard of accuracy and usability. But the website is bringing structure and value to the industry which for too long has undersold itself. Our reputation in this field highlights the enormous efforts made in a better understanding of individual tool qualities, bringing reliable standards and good practices to user-grade tool refurbishment. New woodworkers needed help and buying tools that perform as they should, only this encourages them further to bring in fresh blood into the industry.
The used tool market for users is very different from the Antique collectors market: Overall what is sought after is originality and rarity and desirability. The best Antique tools are always going to be those that seem to have time warped into the present with very little use and those exceptionally rare survivors with historical importance. These are very hard to value as it is the desirability factor that will essentially determine their value. But the true value only comes when all those interested are present at the same time.
Then you come to the desirable but more common named tools which are bordering on the user price range as good value, I.E Norris A5 or a Spiers Panel Plane as being good examples of this. How can these premium quality collectible planes be anywhere near or lower in price than a modern Clifton or Lie Nielson plane, for example, it makes no sense but it’s happening as I write this article. It’s no wonder why so many users are now the buyers of such planes for use.
With this in mind, it’s simply time for a reality check and take a look at what has driven these wonderful old tools to such low depths where value is concerned. Many seasoned collectors have either simply stopped adding to their collections as they lose confidence and many new collectors find it difficult to assess the market values, to begin with.
As I see it, there has never been a better time to get into collecting antique tools, and never has there been more of a need for someone to lead the way and bring some clarity to understanding the value of Antique tools here in the UK. There needs to be a facility to both buy and sell within a growing community where the same professional standards are applied regardless of the collector’s IT or marketing skills.
We want to attract the best antique tools and present them professionally to a worldwide audience of tools collectors who appreciates honesty and the hard work needed to represent them properly with minimal fuss. This will also help those who inherit tool collections, obtain proper market rates for the tools with a simple phone call.
Understanding Top Dealers: Some established antique tool dealer prices can exceed auction prices due to their reputations and the time they have been established building up their customer bases. It generally takes many years of hard-earned knowledge to reach these heights and their positions should be respected. They will generally see things the average dealer or collector won’t, this is understandably through having far more experience handling and selling many antique tools.
Specialised Antique tool Auctions
These were once international events worthy of traveling to from around the globe attracting the very best antique and collectible tools worthy of being individually sold as single lots. And as such because they were hard to find these events were held once maybe twice a year, focusing the attention of the community.
The excitement and anticipation once held have gone due to those who held these events having lost their way and are more interested in the commissions from handling ordinary below user-grade tools of varied conditions.
The rise of general auctioneers to reach a wider online audience has seen many attracting antique tools but the fact is they are missing the specialist knowledge and experience. Likewise, other online auction platforms have not failed in delivering sub-standard conditions.
It’s NOT: Going to happen through a divide and rule mentality, on a wide range of platforms that a small percentage are engaged for short periods of time. Facebook, eBay, Youtube, Instagram, Pinterest the list goes on.
A coming together of respected international minds on a powerful online platform purposely designed to facilitate focus and this credibility. A platform that delivers the tools needed to engage those who understand the importance of community over individual needs, knowing in truth the latter depends on the wider audience.
Those who have long been involved in this industry have seen firsthand that reliance on the old ways has only fueled the decline in prices for antique tools over the past 25 years, with a few exceptions. The time for change has come, when new leaders will emerge with great respect and standing for those with specific knowledge that is shared with the wider community. No one likes change I know and I expect many will cling to the past until the wind of change is in the air.
These things take time but step by step. we hope in time to engage, meet, and gather with a newfound drive that will eventually deliver a better experience for all those involved.