Selling customer's antiques


Well-known member
I've had a couple pieces in the shop and through research have identified them as authentic period pieces. My customer has asked me to sell them  for her. My question to the pros on this forum is:                                    What is an appropriate fee?  Is there a standard percentage of the sale price? Do I add to that % my time spent in authenticating the pieces, phone calls, emails time in the books finding comps etc.? Any advise is appreciated.
Thanks,  Ross

As a dealer, I can offer a lot of information and advice, how much actual help it might be is another matter.  Right now is a very "down" time for the antique furniture business and it will be in your best interest to keep this in mind.  First, find out what your client's expectations of price are and how long you will have to get the furniture sold.  Put it in writing.  Do all necessary research to find out if the furniture is what the client says it is and its true value.  A good place to start is the P4Antiques database that we SAPFM members can access on the website under Research Tools.  If you do not know how to judge the authenticity and condition of a piece of antique furniture, you will need to find someone trustworthy who does (not as easy as it sounds).  A good honest appraiser will cost money (the client pays the fee or it gets deducted from the final accounting).  Once you know what you have, then you can decide on the best way to sell it.  There are many ways, including direct private sales, consignments, or auctions.  Each has advantages and disadvantages.  Depending upon the value of the items involved, most people charge a sliding scale of percentage for selling them.  The more valuable something is, the lower the percentage.  Generally speaking, it is assumed that all of that research work is what the client is paying for with the percentage of the sale price they are paying you.  Above all, put any agreement of this sort, where you are acting as an agent, along with a detailed inventory and description of the property involved, in writing.  As Louis B. Mayer put it so well, "A verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's printed on."   PSP
Thanks for the info Peter. To nail down a specific answer, what are some of the sliding scale percentages? all of the previous advise you gave have been addressed. I had been thinking of something in the 10-20% range. This item has been authenticated by a curator of a major museum and the customer obtained the item as a decorative item, not knowing it was an authentic piece. I am fully aware of all the options for selling the piece, I just want a ball park % to start as a baseline.
Thanks, Ross
Thanks Peter,
That's the succinct answer I was looking for, and in line with what i had surmised.