Although this is an auction website, it’s important that those who don’t know me understand I’m a full time tool dealer and have to assess prices on a daily basis. I have to watch the market carefully and have to keep an eye on what’s out there at any given time to evaluate whether there is an abundance or short supply of certain old tools. Prices for old tools have always fluctuated and lower prices are generally come about as a result of various reasons that I will address in this article.
The internet by its nature makes light work of finding things, everything is but a click away! This in itself is somewhat misleading and I’ll try explain why.
Let’s start with something most people would be familiar with, ‘Norris Planes’
Now before the days of the internet these where pretty scarce tools and rarely would buyers get a chance to see one let alone buy one. Prices were higher and demand for them was very strong as a result. The internet opened up the marketplace and these tools by Norris as a result became easier to find.
But this is very misleading as these Norris planes are still rare when you consider how few are really available worldwide at any given time. The elusion of now being able to find and buy some Norris models at a click of a mouse has taken away the urgency that was once there. Yet with the erratic online pricing and failure by many to generate the confidence needed when buying these planes it’s easy to see why many buyers have lost some confidence. Once there is confusion over prices this only drains confidence to any new collector over future valuations.
I guess some prices may seem high, some low but historically these planes commanded much higher prices than many online and if you consider inflation those higher retail prices may not be so ‘out there’ as one might think. I guess in some ways this category needs to be put into better prospective, as does all other makers of infill planes.
Valuing other Antique tools
Well, there has been a rise in the understanding and following of certain sections of collecting different types of antique tools, such as wrenches, hammers, saws etc. to name but a few. As with many subjects, antique tools has specialist’s who understand their chosen subject and these are the very people who understand the desirability and importance of any given item, this knowledge is something that should be understood and shared to increase demand.
So what is something worth?
Well the easy answer is what ever you can get for it! Some sellers can get more than others and this is either due to pure luck or because the seller has a good reputation for knowing what are the important factors are and is honest. Confidence in the seller by the buyer goes a long way but this isn’t something that is instant but instead earned over time. Likewise environments help, how the seller has invested time, effort and the facilities in which they sell from will establish how dedicated they are to their business. This explains somewhat why certain establishments go the extra mile to ensure their customers have a good consistent experience and they understand the importance of the customer themselves.
So to establish the true value of something is very much a mixture of factors and why the inconsistency of places such as eBay has a negative effect on how to establish true value. I bought in on eBay isn’t an indorsement on the seller who carried out the sale and any problems are shared throughout the platform with a ‘bleep, bleep, bleep eBay’, power of association plays a major role. Likewise supply and demand has had a major impact and why eBay sellers now rely on ‘buy it now’s’ rather than using auctions which don’t generate the consistency audience needed for specialised items.
Therefore defining a value is far more complex than most would think and given how this has worked in the past this bares no relevance on the future prices.
The Buyer’s of antique tools
Sometime I think some people have this idea there are whole bunch of tool nuts that can be fleeced but I hope those looking to sell antique tools should consider this simply isn’t true. Instead what you find are passionate collectors who develop an understanding (often through hard work and research) of what they want to buy. Sometime upgrading, sometimes adding to their existing collections but in most cases these collectors have an underlying outlet in where they can trade to improve their collections. These buyers are sophisticated and will base their valuations on history, future, availability and their desire to own the said item, for reasons such as condition and the reliability of the source.
Selling antique tools
So as you can see prices can vary for a variety of reasons and those who want to achieve a greater return need to accept that it’s only possible by using an independent reputable specialist outlet that will scrutinise each tool sold for the benefit of the buyer. They also have to understand the importance of association to enhance their lots and have confidence the market will always find them the best possible prices. As I said at the beginning it’s only worth what you can get for it before the difficult bit of making the sale stick which always without any doubt means the buyer has to be pleased with their purchase.