What price should I ask for my vintage Mid Century Modern furniture? This is the most important aspect of the successful sale that most sellers struggle with.
There are many components to the price that should be thought over in order to successfully sell your vintage MCM furniture. I will explain in detail the most important ones.
AUTHENTICATION. You will be successful in sale if you know what do you have. It is much more difficult to sell if you do not know what you sell. Only a small part of the vintage MCM furniture sellers are the original buyers; the largest part are the family members who inherited furniture or are helping their elderly parents to downsize and move. Another large part are the second buyers who purchased furniture directly from the owners, auctions, estate sales or antique & vintage stores. In most cases, furniture origin information is not available.
Where you start? By looking closely on the back side or bottom of your piece to see if there is any manufacturer's signage. If that's the case, you are in luck, just google to find all available info.
However, in most cases furniture is not stamped or labels are lost. How to authenticate in such cases? You will start by looking online to find the same items, that a reputable dealer/ auction house already authenticated. Vintage sales catalogues from the manufacturers and stores are the great resource, but these are not easy to come by.
When searching online, you need to know what keywords to use. Usually it is not difficult to see what the item is meant for (a table, chair, sofa, dresser, bed, buffet and so on). Do you know what material it is made from (wood: teak, walnut, rosewood, oak, birch, beech, maple, etc or perhaps some kind of plastic or fibreglass, fabric, leather, laminate, chrome, glass, etc.)? Once you start "googling", you should find at least similar items, and see what keywords you can "borrow". This might lead you to information about the country the piece was made in, perhaps the years, and if you are lucky - manufacturer and even the designer. Sometimes one can google for days and not find the item. The reason might be that that this information is not available online or you are not using correct keywords. It is very important to understand is that the large part of vintage items can not be authenticated (perhaps they came from small manufacturers, that were never "famous"). There are online forums and groups that you can join and talk to the members who are more knowledgeable. Sometimes you will find the country of origin, and even manufacturer, but not a designer - check our online store to see how many pieces are not authenticated.
There are companies, who provide authentication services. If you have high end pieces, it might be worth to check with them but even they will not be able to answer all the questions.
A lot of people use 1st dibs for authentication purposes and price guidance, although information there is most certainly not 100% correct.
Most important, the 1st dibs prices are inflated, and as a rule, you need to divide their price by 4 to get something close to the market price for "normal" people. The buyers are not stupid, and will not buy at 1st dibs prices.
When looking for comparable items and prices, it is important to check the local market - stores and private sales. Again, buyers will not pay retail prices on Marketplace or Kijiji. They understand that private sellers do not have lots of expenses, and in many cases, inherited items for free.
Another component is furniture condition. If you are selling for cheap, the buyers do not expect great condition, but for the big bucks their expectations will be high. When checking your furniture, look with the eyes of the buyers - they will be looking for the defects, so should you. The goal is to understand what would be the cost if any repairs are required. Sometimes furniture, like sofa, can be in great shape, but upholstered in outdated fabric, so the buyers will want new upholstery which will be costly. The buyers will also not care about your sentimental value and will not pay premium for that.
Sometimes you have a high quality furniture that you paid a lot of money in the 1960s, but it the style is not trendy or popular these days, you will not be able to sell it for what it might be worth. Large teak or rosewood wall units are the best example of such a case.