Treasures Donated As Trash

“What’s It Worth: Antiques Minute”

January 10, 2020

I’ve stated many times on my “What’s It Worth” radio show that I believe we’re in the “golden age of nonprofit donations.” What I mean by this is that as the baby boomer generation moves, downsizes, and passes on, the value of many of their antiques, collectibles and household items have declined in value. They no longer want them, and their children don’t want them. With shifting markets, declining prices, and changing tastes, auctioneers are picky for consignments. Many antique and collectible dealers are buying less, because they are selling less. For many, a viable option is to donate no longer wanted items to a nonprofit group who will re-sell to benefit a specific cause, but in many cases, the investment of having an appraisal should be conducted to avoid a “treasure” from being identified as “trash.”
Whether by the original purchaser or the family who has inherited unwanted estate items, all too often treasures are being donated as trash today. For example, a $800 Rookwood art pottery vase was donated as a chotchkee. A $1,500 18-carat gold bracelet was donated as costume jewelry; a $2,500 sterling silver flatware set was donated as silverplate; a $4,500 original modern artwork was donated as a reproduction print; and a $20,000 diamond wedding ring was donated as a cubic zirconia.
What’s it worth? This “treasure donated as trash” list is obviously just a fraction of donation mistakes made daily throughout the country, and nonprofits love it. To prevent this from happening to you, consider having a professional appraiser perform a house or estate contents appraisal. Pick one who has no interest in buying from you.

Mike Ivankovich is an auctioneer, appraiser, home downsizing expert, and host of the "What's It Worth? Ask Mike the Appraiser" radio show that airs live on Friday mornings from 9 to 10 a.m. on WBCB 1490 AM in the Greater Philadelphia area. It is available on the internet at
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