Some people say, “The value of your bell is the price a buyer will pay for it on any given day!” But, that advice doesn’t help you determine what price to put on a bell or collection you want to sell nor does it help you know the value for insurance purposes.
The American Bell Association International, Inc. does not appraise bell(s) nor does it maintain a list of appraisers. However, some ABA members are glad to offer an opinion based on their research, experience in buying, and watching the prices of bells on eBay, in antique shops, at flea markets, and at auctions. Please bear in mind that if you were to ask for an opinion, it would be just that. The individual would not be an official representative of the American Bell Association.
An inquiry regarding value should include the following information:
• Height of the bell
• Diameter of the bottom of the skirt
• Writing or engraving on the bell
• Material from which the bell was made
• History about the bell that you may have
• Photo of the outside of the bell
• Photo of the inside of the bell
Should you decide to ask for an opinion of value from bell collectors, you may do so by posting a request on the American Bell Association International, Inc.’s “Bell Talk” Forum (http://www.americanbell.org/belltalk/index.php). To find out how to do this, go to the “Using the ‘Bell Talk’ Forum” topic under the “Joining In” section. There are three threads that you should read: “How to Register to Use the ‘Bell Talk’ Forum,” “How to Post a Message on the ‘Bell Talk’ Forum,” and “How to Post Digital Photos of Bells.”
Other Options: A good place to start is by reading the article entitled “Breaking Up a Collection” by Rob Hoffer. You can find it at http://www.railroadiana.org/info/pgBrea ... ection.php . This article pertains specifically to railroadiana but the advice is universal. The section “Set Values” says it well:
The first question that you have to ask yourself is how much do you expect to get for all of this stuff? You have to think about this realistically. Like most investments, not everything we buy goes up in value. Another consideration is that not every piece in the collection is going to realize top dollar.
Setting a price can be very difficult. If you set the price too high, it won't sell. If you set it too low, well, you don't want to go there either. Pricing is difficult even for the experienced collector. This is especially true of the extremely rare items, because comparable's almost never hit the open market.
Some people think about getting the services of an independent, professional appraiser. After all, this is a common thing to do in the general antique world. However, there are few professional appraisers who know railroadiana well, and there are few people within the hobby who are willing/able to perform this service. Leaving survivors/inheritors the task of finding someone to appraise a collection is a real challenge and exposes them to the possibility of dealing with unethical or self-interested individuals. So setting values yourself is a critical task and worth the time that it will take. Attend shows, talk to experienced collectors, and educate yourself on the values of the items in your collection. And write all this down!”
For more information about the values of your bell(s), please read the article at http://www.railroadiana.org/info/pgAboutValues.php
There are four books that are often used by bell collectors as references and the authors give opinions on values. These books may be available in your local library, in antique shops, or online:
Collectible Bells : Treasures of Sight and Sound (Schiffer Book for Collectors) by Donna S. Baker
More Collectible Bells: Classic to Contemporary (Schiffer Book for Collectors) by Donna S. Baker
Collectible Glass Bells of the World (Schiffer Book for Collectors) by A. A. Trinidad, Jr.
Glass Bells (Schiffer Book for Collectors) by A. A. Trinidad, Jr. and Al A. Trinidad