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Brian Dentino

How do you document items and rough value on items?

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Not to sound too fatalistic, but I am looking for advice on documenting items that I have in my collection and giving them a rough value in case something would happen to me. I know that my wife and kids would have NO idea what some or most of my items were or their rough value and would like to catalog something for them to use easily if the worst were to happen to me. I wouldn't want them to part with items for next to nothing when they have a real dollar value in the collector market. I have not done this, even after 20 years of collecting, and it is something that needs to be done to ensure that if I meet an untimely demise they are not swindled by some shady characters. My collection is varied and not just US based so I want to know how some of you have done this for your own collections. To be honest, my wife/kids wouldn't know a WWII item vs. modern or its worth at all. While my collection is VERY humble compared to some, it is still worth thousands of dollars that I would hate to have them miss out on if circumstances dictated.

 

Since I have never done this since taking up the hobby I don't exactly remember what I paid for everything, nor do I know for sure what the items I have are worth, but would like an easy, and accessible data base for them to work off of if something did happen to me. (And yes, there are a few members of this forum that I would like to add to this information for them to allow them to reach out to if the need would arise! I will ask each if this is okay.)

 

Appreciate your comments and suggestions and plan on getting this started sooner rather than later.

 

All the best and thanks in advance for the comments!

Brian


Always looking for 325th G.I.R. and WWII USMC items!
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Your best bet is just slowly cataloging the items either on paper or more preferable spread sheet on your computer. As you buy things add what you paid for them in columns next to them and the date of purchase, a short description of the item (any provenance or special things about the piece) and add what you feel it is worth or what the current going rate is because as we all know sometimes you pay $30 but its really worth $100 so you can't just put down what you paid! I wouldn't really bother for cheaper items say $5 dollars patches. I would just do it for items you feel have a value over $25 dollars. This not only aids your family in the event of an untimely death but also may aid you in 20 years when you decide you want to sell it all and move to Florida (if you know what I mean). It is at times a pain and time consuming but is certainly worth the effort! Hope this helped!


Please Remember the Following Service Members who have passed on!

 

Manley S Webb- 1925-2006 US Navy WW2

James W Boutilier - 1921-1983 US Navy Seabees WW2

Russell W Haight - 1876-1953 Spanish American War, Cuban Pacification, Mexican Border War NYNG

Lt Colonel William H Warren 1921-2014 USAF

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I was faced with a similar problem. Not only did I want to catalogue my collection for my own sake, but also I wanted to show my family members what everything was and a rough estimate of value. I have been using Powerpoint for this end, For example, for OIF pieces, I would start a new document labeled "OIF". Then I would insert category slides ("Headgear", "Souvenir Items", etc.) throughout the document and place slides of every piece where it needs to go. That way, I have pictures of every item, value of it, and a description of what it is. If you go this route, make sure to keep it up to date as well as have multiple copies of the file.

 

Hope this helps.


 

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Check completed auctions on E Bay. I think that gives you at least 30 days history of what a particular item went for.

 

Try worthpoint.com I believe you can get a trial subscription for a short time for free.


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Keep a written log of items. Put it in your safe with your will, insurance, and mortgage paperwork. Most important, give them info on who you trust to help them dispose of items, reasonably. As for a database of value of items....in my opinion that's a no go with your untimely demise. Times change as do value on stuff. Remember, it's just stuff. You're gone, who know's what it's 'worth'. Does your family want a quick disposal of all items for cash, do they want absolute top dollar through premier auction house, do they want to do local sale only? Are we talking firearms and stuff or just firearms?

 

I personally, having a large machine-gun, plus non NFA firearms, and helmet collection have a will and a trust. The only reason for the trust is so my wife/kids have time to sell the items at reasonable prices. Or keep them. Or turn all of it into the atf. I don't care as I'm gone at that point. Should my wife/kids decide to max out on the old army stuff I've bought, they have the tools in their hands, in my safe.

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I bought a few box loads of small price tags with strings. I tie the string to a button loop on the uniform and write the amount I paid for the item

in reverse on the back of the tag. For example if I paid $250. I write .052 The tags can also be tied to helmets and equipment. I ocassionally

update the tags with current market prices.

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All my items are on a computer program which I update often from sale values. All items rer pictured in photo albums


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Thanks for all the comments. Guess I will start photographing and cataloging some of my better items.


Always looking for 325th G.I.R. and WWII USMC items!
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I think it will be tough to attach values to what your collection is worth. As others have said, times change and values of certain things often times go down. Also the only person who cares what you purchased an item for is you. I'd approach it differently. Leave specific instructions as to where to take your collection (after your death) to sell it off. Sometimes it will be a trusted family member or friend. It might be a shop or auction house.

As an example, I've personally seen where the kids are attempting to sell there dad's 1928 Model T coupe (could be any collectable) today based on a sell price dad left them. Unfortunately dad's price was from 22 years ago, before the market plateaued and reversed. The car never sells and slowly deteriorates in the garage. Meanwhile the kids remain convinced more than ever that dad was right and everyone else is trying to rip them off.


A member of this fine site since December 16, 2006....Member # 60

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Sample of my sheet with a rough idea of how I fill them out-pictures are not of the items described

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Includes enough room for more description if needed and I also include where the item is actually located in the house(so I can find it) and not so much information that someone else would get overwhelmed.

The item number goes on small white paper tag with string and is attached to each piece.

Sometimes add a couple pictures for reference.


RJ

Always looking for WWII era 45th Infantry related items

"Semper Anticus"

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Most of my patches and misc para wings are framed. I just simply take a few pictures ot the lot,print and write what i think is a fair sell price on each image. Takes the guess work out for whoever made need it. Then just attach document to back of frame or display. Seems to be sufficient.

 

Cheers

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Keep in mind that family's will most often get 50 cents on the dollar or less on things you leave behind unless you leave them something more useful than guessed-at prices: the name of good dealers or auction houses. The more stuff you have the harder it is to find one buyer for all of it without going way down in price. A large collection of anything can be a mixed blessing for heirs. They are very speculative "investments" not always easily converted to cash. Some suggest doing it yourself, slowly winding down, one piece at a time and and enjoy the money you make selling at retail.

 

I did a paid appraisal of a large amount of WWII German stuff, mostly real. The guy - who was 70 something - was going to leave it to his then 8-year-old grandson. I tried to convince him to sell it and leave the cash to the kid instead of a bunch of old Nazi stuff that'll drive his mom crazy and will likely sell for a fraction of its "value" because mom will want to get it out of the house ASAP.

 

Do the heirs a big favor: leave the some phone numbers of folks to call just in case...



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