Monthly Archives: June 2013

What to do with old fur coats and stoles?

images-1There’s an old fur coat in the closet. Or two. Or more. What to do with them?

The answer will depend largely upon your feelings about wearing animal fur.

People who are anti-fur will want to consider donating the coat to the Humane Society, which promotes cutting up old furs to use as surrogate mothers for orphaned mammals, making their nests warm and comforting. Search the Wildlife International  database for a list of nearby rehabilitation centers. Or donate to PETA where they will pass an old fur coat on to a homeless person, who, according to PETA, “are the only people who have an excuse to wear fur.”

1915ReliableFurCoats1Those with no moral objections to wearing fur need to learn what sort of fur they have. Is it chinchilla or weasel? Leopard or mink? Your local fur dealer will identify it for you for free and give you some ideas. They can appraise too, but that might have a small cost. Identifying the fur is the first step. After that, you can:

–donate to a theatrical program at a local little theater, high school, or university,

–have it remodeled and updated at a furrier’s to wear again,

–donate or sell for arts and crafts, or make something yourself (a collar, muff, handbag, pillow, or vest),

–sell directly on eBay or other site, bearing in mind that traditional styles sell best,

–sell to online businesses such as Cash for Fur Coats or to one of the three main used fur dealers in the U.S. (Henry Cowit in NY, Ritz Furs in NY, or Chicago Fur Outlet—find information online) where they buy outright or sell on consignment,

–sell on consignment at a local secondhand clothing shop,

–trade in at your local furrier for credit toward another coat.

Furs are like cars, they depreciate dramatically the day you walk out of the shop and are generally worth less than you think. They also don’t last as long as you think, so if you find an old fur, it may be worthless. Some minks, if well cared for, might last fifty years, but if the fur has been stored in the attic or basement, it has probably been ruined by heat, moisture, or pests.

Teddy Bears

imagesTeddy bears didn’t exist before 1903, the year President Teddy Roosevelt made the news with his gallant refusal to shoot a baby bear during a hunting trip. (At least, that’s what passed for gallant in those days.) Old teddy bears are common but can still fetch a decent price; antique ones can be very valuable if they interest a collector. Bears made by Ideal Toy Corp., Gund, and Stieff are the most sought after, with millions sold in various sizes. As always, condition is very important. 

Check http://www.liveauctioneers.com for bears, either in the Live auctions category (look at estimates) or the Sold category. You’ll see many that have sold for over $100, even several hundred. That should give you an idea of what yours is worth.

Are those Foreign Coins Worth Anything???

7709884-pile-of-foreign-coins-with-stong-light-cast-coming-in-from-the-upper-right-hand-cornerMany people collected foreign coins out of an interest in a particular country or region. Others who traveled a lot threw all their leftover coins in a box to use later . . . and never did. Many of these are obsolete now. Some have value. Because most coin dealers in America have little experience or knowledge about foreign coins, you are better off searching online to identify and evaluate your coins. Start with www.worldcoingallery.com for a comprehensive and free website. Also, www.numismaster.com, but there are fees involved here. Another method, if you can’t figure out the country of origin, is to type any words on the coin into a search engine and see what comes up.

Donate unwanted foreign coins to Change for Good, a UNICEF program begun in 1987 to collect unwanted coins and currency. Tape them to cardboard so they don’t rattle around in the package and mail them to Change for Good, UNICEF, 125 Maiden Lane, New York, NY 10038.

Throw out those old postcards?

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In the early 1900s, postcard collecting was quite the craze, popular with young people who traded, saved, and mounted them in albums. While it isn’t exactly a top-rated hobby for today’s youngsters, there are still a lot of collectors out there. So if you have inherited a collection of postcards from your loved-one, don’t toss them in the trash.

Postcards can be dated by a postmark if they were actually mailed, by the subject in the picture (city skylines, cars, fashions), or by the style and information on the back. The stamps may be of interest to stamp collectors.

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Get help identifying and valuing yours from dealers at antiques shows, as always, asking more than one dealer and comparing offers. To learn how to identify and value what you have, take a look at www.postcardy.com and www.vintagepostcards.org, websites full of information and links to more information. Once you know what you have, postcards can be sold online and mailed to the purchaser in an envelope for the price of a stamp. Easy!