Before I file my final entry on our miniatures, I wanted to open up a discussion about what to do with your miniatures when you can no longer keep them. Over the years, many of you, or your relatives, have collected valuable items that you hoped to pass down, only to find that no one in the family is interested, or has the room (especially for houses). It’s a difficult topic to consider, because for most of us there’s an emotional connection to our pieces—we remember when and where we bought them, all the ways we have played with and displayed them. Usually we know, or know the history of, the craftsperson who made them, which strengthens the emotional connection. Sometimes we have pieces of great monetary value, but the value is recognized only within the relatively tiny miniatures market. We love our miniatures so much we save up for months for them, and sometimes we even fudge a little (a lot?) on the price to our spouses because they don’t understand the market, and would absolutely not understand why a tiny silver tea tray cost more than last month’s root canal. I know you all have your own stories…
So how do you go about finding homes for your treasures? If you value your collection, it’s good to start looking ahead, so you aren’t rushed, and make a plan, to make sure your things wind up where they will be 1: cared for, and/or 2: valued, as in sold for a good price.
My first suggestion is to contact the artisans directly, if possible. There is no better way to acknowledge the artisan than returning one of their pieces for them to re-sell. Most craftspeople are not earning a living at miniatures, nor do they charge what a piece is worth, and this gives them a chance to recoup some of their losses. To contact them, Google their names, or check with the International Guild of Miniature Artisans (IGMA) website at www.igma.org for addresses. While you’re there, explore the Forum page on the site, which includes information on auctions, shows, and other miniatures resources on the web. Also check the N.A.M.E. website, which may have similar resources.
The next suggestion would be miniature shops—they will know the value of your collection. Often, they will sell on consignment, or will buy outright when it’s a rare piece, or is made by a famous artisan. This is a good resource if you are trying to sell something big like a house—they may have a list of people looking for houses by specific artists. Two shops that come to mind are:
Larrianne’s Small Wonders
3457 Telegraph Rd.
Ventura, CA 93003
Larrianne has been in business for eons, and knows her miniatures.
Another is a newcomer to me, who recently successfully re-sold one of our early houses:
Connie at CJN Miniatures & More
23030 Hwy 99
Edmonds, WA 98026
Check the internet–there are plenty of other shops, and it’s best if you can find one near you to simplify getting your pieces to them for inspection.
Another resource is miniatures museums—they may be looking for unusual pieces for their collection, or for donations for their own fundraising. The two I know most about are:
The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures in Kansas City
The Mini Time Machine in Tucson
Another resource is auction houses—Do an internet search for Dollhouse Miniatures Auctions and you will find plenty of places to start. Don’t assume your collection is too small for an auction house–they often auction off multiple collections when they have enough.
Doing a Google search for “selling dollhouse miniatures,” I found a forum on selling on the Greenleaf Miniatures website: http://www.greenleafdollhouses.com/forum/?app=forums&module=forums..
If you are enterprising, energetic and techno savvy, you can look into selling your pieces through ebay, or Etsy. And there are online miniatures forums like The Camp and Small Stuff where you might get advice, and even help in dispersing your collection. As with anything else in life, it’s a good idea to make sure you are dealing with reputable people.
Those are just a few suggestions. If you have questions or suggestions, please add your comments below. I take no responsibility for sales or exchanges, but hope this might be a help in getting your thinking going.
Carol of SPminiatures
Thank you Pat! I have been giving this some thought lately and you have given me some fresh ideas. I had never even thought of giving the item back to the artist. What a fine way to express your appreciation for their contribution to the hobby that has brought such pleasure.