Q: We have a certificate for 40 shares of stock for the Tucker Corp., which failed. We’d like to sell. Would it would be of value to a collector? Any advice on how to proceed would be appreciated.
A: Readers often send inquiries about old stocks. Their main question is, “Does this still have value?” Alas, 99.9 percent of the time, the answer is no — not as company stock. But some old stocks interest collectors, so there is resale value.
As example, Tucker should pique interest. It was a car company, so automobile collectors will be interested. As a business, it was founded by a visionary and flawed character. Another plus. The company had a colorful story, with an ironic flameout. There’s even a George Lucas movie, “Tucker: The Man and His Dream,” done in 1988, starring Jeff Bridges. And finally, there are collectors interested in old stocks, period.
Preston Tucker is best remembered today for his 1948 Tucker Torpedo. As an entrepreneur, Tucker introduced many innovations related to safety, speed and style. Only 50 of his dream ’48s were built, and Tucker got in over his head. Charges of fraud (he was acquitted) and loss of a factory ultimately killed production.
Our reader asked for help in how to proceed. So our answer will be more how-to than a lesson on old stocks.
When you know what you have (in this case, Tucker stock), Google the name and follow leads. Chances are you’ll find sold examples. We found a $195 result for a Tucker certificate on a site that buys and sells old stocks.
Next, key liveauctioneers.com and link to sold examples. We found a page of Tucker stock results, from $120-$200. Finally, check completed sales on eBay. We saw seven results, from $87.99-$150.
See how easy it is to get started? And all that info is free! As a bonus, liveauctioneers.com and Google provide leads for selling.
Once you have ballpark info, be sure to study differences between goods that brought high versus low prices. There’s your clue to what buyers want.
Q: I got my mother’s roll top desk, and since I already have three desks, we need to sell this one. Desks run the gamut in price, so how do I price it? It has lovely handles and knobs.
A: The piece seen in images sent is a mass production oak roll top from the first quarter of the 20th century. Decoration on the top gallery is pressed, not carved.
We have no info on size. It matters, because massive pieces are hard to fit into today’s homes.
This is not a desk because there is no kneehole where legs fit when the user is seated. The piece is a desk secretary, a hybrid of the two styles. And that can be a problem. Desks are utilitarian. Desk secretaries, not so much. They’re more for storage than use.
On the upside, there are fewer of these than desks. Buyers will appreciate the three drawers, the bottom cubby with partitions, and the sectioned workspace under the roll top.
We found two comparable desk secretaries; each sold for $150. The reader needs to look for herself, searching as described above. She can then decide how best to sell.
Q: I have stored my mom’s dress from the 1920s for years. It’s in excellent condition. Would a collector be interested?
A: Indeed they would. Vintage clothing is popular worldwide, and the 1920s are a particularly hot decade.
I suggest you use the search method detailed above. That should provide plenty of leads.
With vintage clothing, buyers seek like-new condition and design that represents the best of the era. Examine the dress for a label and-or design that could identify it as a premium item. If the fabric or cut, trim or anything about it seems above the norm, try shopping it to premium vintage clothing resellers. They won’t pay retail, but you may get more than you would at auction.
Another option is posting it in an online auction at a price you can live with.
Modern and vintage timepieces brought $4.4 million in a recent Antiquorum sale of 404 lots. One lot, a circa 1992 Patek Philippe wristwatch, sold for $902,500. Extremely rare, the timepiece is a self-winding, astronomic, minute-repeating platinum watch with perpetual calendar, leap year indicator, moon phases and a Patek buckle. Stamped with the hallmark of a renowned case maker, it has 39 jewels plus a signed dial and movement. From a known collector, it was carefully maintained so that all hallmarks are pristine.
Q: Can you list the table utensils in the order they developed: Knives, forks, spoons?
A: The answer is knives, spoons, forks. Source: “Sterling Silver Flatware: 3rd Ed.” by Richard Osterberg (Schiffer, $39.99). With updated prices for sterling tableware, common to obscure.
Danielle Arnet welcomes questions from readers. She cannot respond to each one individually, but will answer those of general interest in her column. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or write Danielle Arnet, c/o Tribune Media Services, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1400, Chicago, IL 60611. Please include an address in your query. Photos cannot be returned.