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Finding Value: Tips to Buying Crystal at Estate Sales


The discovery of a valuable treasure at an estate sale can be one of the most exciting experiences of a lifetime. If you are a crystal collector and are on the hunt for a specific type of item, unearthing a nice piece is a huge thrill. However, beware of purchasing crystal at an estate sale until you have learned a few necessary facts about identifying authentic crystal.

Often glassware and stemware manufacturers tout their products as real crystal when they are simply glass, and are deceiving the buyer. But since estate sales are normally selling antiques and other old and collectible items, the crystal you find there will most likely be authentic.

One important thing to remember is that if the crystal piece you desire is rare, has intricate detail, is of high quality and heavy, is old and in great condition-then you can expect it to be at the forefront value-wise. Below are a few other rules of thumb to help identify authentic crystal at an estate sale:

  • Look for maker’s marks: The majority of true crystal pieces will have a maker’s mark on the bottom. It may be the name of the manufacturer, the country where it was produced, and/or a number บาคาร่า or symbol of some sort. If you have been buying crystal at estate sales for any length of time you will usually be able to tell who the manufacturer is even if there are no markings. If a piece of crystal was manufactured under special circumstances, such as for a royal family event, and there is evidence of such on the piece, it highly increases in value. Makers such as Baccarat, Waterford, Belleek and Lalique are just a few of the better crystal manufacturers to keep an eye out for in your estate sale hunts.
  • The older and heavier the better! When it comes to crystal, age is a big determining factor in deciding its value. Old pieces are even more valuable when they are out of production. Another way to tell how old an estate sale piece of crystal is by the pattern. Oftentimes, popular patterns are easily recognizable as made by a particular manufacturer. Hard to come by pieces are also more valuable, as rarity is a big plus. Also, true crystal is heavier than typical glass due to the weight of lead oxide it contains.
  • Condition is king: A piece of crystal in pristine condition is of the utmost value. Condition does drastically affect the value, and complete sets are more valuable than sets with missing pieces. Some things that can lower the value of crystal are chips, cracks, and scratches. If the piece is an antique, a defective piece can still be valuable, however. The quality of the crystal you find at an estate sale has a big effect on its value also.

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