Anyone who regularly attends storage auctions knows that there’s no shortage of stuff of very little value in storage units. You may be the highest bidder on a unit and only end up being able to sell and make a profit off of one or two things in the whole unit. If you’re new to the storage auction world, it can be difficult to just eyeball a unit and guess how much money you’re going to make off of its contents. That’s why it’s helpful to pay close attention to detail before you make any sort of bid. A good way to gauge the value of a storage unit is to look for certain small indicators of value. The value of some of the smallest things (like pottery and cut glass) in a unit can directly correlate to the value of the furniture and other items in the unit. Here are a few small things to look for before you bid–that many people often overlook:
1. Cut Glass
Any cut glass is a good sign. People don’t tend to collect cut glass unless they have some expendable money to spend on things for their home. Plus, cut glass appeals to an older crowd, which means that the unit it is more likely to contain antique furniture. Get as close to any cut glass as you possibly can. If you notice that the glass is cut with a very intricate and impressive design, this is an even better sign. It may be cut glass from the American Brilliant Period, which means that you’ve stumbled upon stuff that belonged to someone who was serious about collecting valuable stuff.
2. Victorian Majolica
Victorian Majolica is a kind of 19th century pottery that is collected by many antiques enthusiasts and fine art lovers. This is a colorful, glazed type of pottery. It usually features earthy designs and patterns in the clay. Common Victorian Majolica pottery themes and designs are gardens, frogs, fish, leaves and flowers. Victorian Majolica will either be in the shape of these things or have their designs carved on them. For instance, one type of Victorian Majolica may be a pitcher in the shape of a fish. Another type may be a bowl covered with a design of flowers. Victorian Majolica typically comes in subdued, pastel colors and frequently incorporates greens and browns. If you spot some of what could be Victorian Majolica in a unit, it’s safe to assume you’ve discovered the storage unit of an antique collector.
3. German Beer Steins
Beer steins are large, often stoneware or pewter mugs that were (and still are) produced in Germany, often as souvenirs and collectibles. Many of them are ornate and beautiful, but others can look unassuming with goofy characters carved on to them. Look out for steins that have lids, believed to have been popularized during the Black Plague to prevent spread of disease. The lid has long gone out of fashion and is a good indicator of age. Check the bottom of the stein for a stamp from the production company as well. Mettlach was one of the most popular companies, and produced ornate, often carved and hand painted steins through the 1800’s and 1900’s. Anything made before or around 1900 should be worth something.
These are just a few examples of the many small things you can look for in a storage unit to help you decide whether or not you want to make a bid. The next time you’re at a storage auction, remember to pay attention to detail and trust your gut!
Author’s Bio: Lisa is a former Bostonian and current Texan. She’s also an antique collector and art lover. Lisa currently writes for the Blog Content Guild about a whole range of topics, from Boston storage to Chaucer.