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‘Great Find’ Article Generates Reader Comments

by WorthPoint Staff (08/21/09).

We’ve had a lively discussion following the publication of an article about Will Seippel, WorthPoint’s founder and CEO, and how he stumbled upon a “Great Find” missed by an estate sale’s appraisers (“Expert Appraisers Miss ‘Great Find’ Hiding in Plain Sight”)

Will, arriving just before the sale was about to close for the day, thought that a pair of porcelain pieces, with a hallmark he thought he recognized, could be 18th-century French made. If they were, they could be worth much more than the $125 apiece they were tagged with. Will asked if he could get the pieces for a second-day price, and the dealer agreed. A deal was struck: $100 for the pair.

When he got his prizes home, Will was able to confirm that what he had bought was indeed made by Sevres, and worth between $3,000 and $4,000 each. A “Great Find” by anyone’s measure.

But the first two comments left by WorthPoint readers were offended by Will’s attempt to reduce the purchase price:

Gary R. Smith wrote:

“…he asked for a discount on a set of porcelain pieces that were already severely under priced. What stopped him from paying the asking price when he knew he would/could make at least 20 times his investment? I know it’s evident to everyone that reads the story (that) ‘greed’ most likely took over.”

Another reader, Betty Ruis, added:

“…This is greed, pure and simple. Makes you wonder if you’d be taken for a ride with an ‘expert appraiser’ by the ‘(W)orthologist.’ Especially since this was the CEO & founder of Worth(P)oint. Sure doesn’t say much about his integrity.”

Well, these two comments brought a host of other WorthPoint readers to Will’s defense:

Mary wrote:

“The buyer of the Sevres pieces did not know for certain what he had. He could have very well been mistaken and even have overpaid had the items been other than Sevres. Many a bought piece has been found to have damage and repairs not seen until after the buy. A buyer must not pay too much for items or into a hole they will go.”

C. Mire added:

“The price of something is what one is willing to sell for and a buyer is willing to pay. Value is something different altogether. If they were willing to drop the price, then why not? Greed has nothing to do with it. Everyone dickers on price.”

Judy Linville, who conducts tag and estate sales, says this happens pretty frequently:

“I usually know when something I have priced modestly flies out of the sale during the first hectic 30 minutes. Like the sellers in this case if this was the end of the first day, I would have wondered if they would sell on the second day or be left for Goodwill. You just have to be thankful if you are the buyer and if you are the seller promise yourself to look more closely the next time. As a seller I would have given the man the next day pricing, fearing that the items might not sell at all had I waited.”

C. Isaacs relayed an experience where he paid more than the asking price and felt better about it:

“The last moving sale I was at (at closing time, the last day), I saw an old chest of drawers I liked, and I asked the price. He said “five bucks.” I said, “no, no, no!” He looked at me oddly, and said “is that . . . ah . . . too little?” I replied, “way too little!” So he said “how about $25?” –which I gladly paid. And so I carted away a pine chest with hand-cut dovetails and old square nails visible in the inside corners of the slides, which I discovered after I got it home. I also found an old pencil inscription on the inside giving the provenance and dating it to the mid 1800s. I got a great buy, and I felt a little better about it than I would have if I’d bought it for $5.”

Finally, to clarify a concern raised by Betty: “Makes you wonder if you’d be taken for a ride with an ‘expert appraiser’ by the ‘Worthologist.’” Greg Watkins, WorthPoint’s editor, had this to say:

“When you engage a Worthologist through WorthPoint’s “Ask a Worthologist” service, you are hiring a professional who is pledged to provide an unbiased, expert opinion of a collectible or antique, including an estimated range of its fair market value. We are working for you. Furthermore, the Worthologist, and any member of WorthPoint, for that matter, is contractually banned from making an offer to buy the item. This assures that there will be no low-balling on the value in an effort to make an easy score at the expense of the customer.”

We are excited when an article that appears on WorthPoint sparks a conversation like this. I you ever have a thought about something you have read on WorthPoint that you would like to share with our art, antique and collectibles community, please leave a comment. The comment box is at the bottom of each article.

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2 Responses to “‘Great Find’ Article Generates Reader Comments”

  1. christopher kent says:

    I always find it interesting that someone who did not have the eye to find the deal is somehow offended that someone with a better eye saw what was potentially in front of them and had the ” audacity” to ask for a better price. Whether CEO or bud on the street, it is incumbent upon you to do your homework, the initial comments that threw out the comment of “greed” sounds to me more like sour grapes. Mr Seippel has spent years as an avid buyer and educator, giving his knowledge freely to dealers and collectors alike. Why else would he create a site, second only to none, that gives people the opportunity to become better acquainted with what has possibly been starring them in the face for years. As a dealer, collector, broker, educator, I have gone out of my way to instruct people in how to see what it is that they are looking at. Mr Seipple is no exception. Believe me, at the end of the show, the dealer would rather go home with a few less dollars than no dollars at all. And, frankly, if you were actively a part of the buying public you would know this.

  2. carol ann brown says:

    Who would have done differently, if they were unsure if they were the real thing or not. This happens all the time in the world of antiques and collectibles. If we can buy it right, we take the chance it might be worth nothing, all the while hoping it will be worth something more than we paid for it. This time, Will made out.. but the next time he may not. It all comes out in the wash… Personally, I am happy his hunch paid off. Congrats Will! From C.A.B.

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