How Do I Sell Objects That Turn Out to Be Valuable?
April 30, 2015 4:24 PM   Subscribe

I have had a set of Playboy femlins forever, a gift from a friend 30 years ago. To my astonishment, I learned recently that there is apparently a market for these figurines. Not only that, my set is in pristine condition, which many of those marketed/auctioned are not. I would like to sell them. What is my next step?
posted by Short Attention Sp to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
eBay. You can set a minimum.
posted by harrietthespy at 4:37 PM on April 30, 2015

Yeah, eBay is very easy to use even for one-off things. One thing to know: As a new seller, they'll hold on to the buyer's money for 3-4 weeks before putting it in your PayPal account. They do this for the buyer's protection in case you turn out to be a big ol' fraud.

Make sure you put "Mint Condition" or whatever you feel is appropriate in the listing title, and try to use words that you'd use as search terms if you were a collector.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:42 PM on April 30, 2015

Oh, one other option -- check to see if there are any collectors' forums online, or Facebook groups. That's another good way to sell collectibles. (Read the forum/group rules, obviously, to make sure that they allow transactions. Not all do.)
posted by mudpuppie at 4:43 PM on April 30, 2015

Best answer: I would not use ebay for those, I would contact an auction house.
posted by vunder at 4:45 PM on April 30, 2015 [10 favorites]

+1 for auction house. The value of these in 2004 was about $7k so it's probably higher.

I would research - see how much they sold for ebay, and contact an auction house to see if they have been sold and for how much. Then you can figure out which nets the most $$ (assuming that is your goal).
posted by pando11 at 4:49 PM on April 30, 2015 [4 favorites]

Contact an auction house that has previously auctioned some. Do not Ebay these.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:02 PM on April 30, 2015 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Why not contact Leland's? They sold the set you referenced, they seem to know that market.
posted by Floydd at 5:20 PM on April 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Yeah, eBay is a terrible idea here. You have a fine art sculpture, you're not an art dealer with an established selling account there or you wouldn't be asking. Asking Leland's is a great idea.

If you do try to sell them privately, pay for an appraiser, somebody with some decent certifications and experience in art and collectibles, to help you out -- going from 'had no idea these were valuable' to trying to assess condition and value yourself is also a bad idea.

They're iconic -- if they were worth a lot less than they are, I'd offer to take them off your hands. Very cool pop culture artifact!
posted by kmennie at 6:23 PM on April 30, 2015

I retract my eBay suggestion, now that I'm at home and am comfortable Googling something with the word "Playboy" in it. The others here are right -- they're way too valuable for eBay.

Do shop around for auction houses, though, because the cut each one will take from the ultimate sale price will vary.
posted by mudpuppie at 7:12 PM on April 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you ebay these, whoever wins them on ebay will forever tell the story of how cheaply they got them there.

And this is coming from someone who has sold $5k+ items on ebay and in all qualifications besides total monthly items is a "power seller". These are like rare baseball cards, or something.
posted by emptythought at 9:43 PM on April 30, 2015

I agree with kmennie that an appraisal is a good idea, given what it looks like they be worth. Make sure the appraiser knows about 20th century collectibles. And if there is one thing I have learned from watching Antiques Roadshow (and having parents who were antiques dealers) it's that the collectible market can be pretty volatile. So just because they were possibly worth $7000 a few years ago doesn't mean they are worth that now. They could be worth $2000, they could be worth $10,000. Anyway, the first step in selling something is to know what you have and what it's worth.
posted by TedW at 3:06 AM on May 1, 2015

Response by poster: Thank you, everyone, this has been helpful!

It of course makes complete sense to get the figurines appraised as a first step. I've just sent inquiries to a couple of local credentialed appraisers, to Lelands and to a Chicago rep for Christie's, to start.

Many thanks!
posted by Short Attention Sp at 5:11 AM on May 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: As a follow up, we went with Lelands and they've listed the femlins for auction in January.

Thanks again!
posted by Short Attention Sp at 2:06 PM on December 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

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