Aging Well

The Top Six Items from Your Home That Your Kids Don’t Want

A generational and cultural shift is happening across America. Baby Boomers and older seniors have discovered that their children under 50 or grandchildren have no desire to accept family treasures and lifetime collections that have passed through generations. Elizabeth Stewart, a certified appraiser and author of COLLECT VALUE DIVEST: The Savvy Appraiser, confronts this situation with many her clients and finds that certain possessions most older Americans cherished and saved have no appeal to their children.

“I’m called in when families want to know what to do with their parents’ belongings,” says Ms. Stewart. “Time after time I see the children and grandchildren do not value and/or want to sell the very same items, no matter the income level, from very rich to middle-class homes. The heartbreak is that many times one of the parents, usually the mother, is still alive and realizes that things she, her mother and her grandmother had carefully collected over generations means nothing to the younger adults of the family.”

For younger people, what is considered valuable is based on lifestyle changes and technology. Many are collectors but not of the same objects their parents valued. Young people don’t want to polish or hand wash items. Every dish must be dishwasher and microwave safe. They aren’t re-arranging the artwork on the walls. No rotating collections of art. Young people want furniture that’s functional, not large, dark or containing figurines. Entertainment centers have gone the way of the dodo bird.
Here are the top items the under-50 crowd doesn’t want:

Sterling Silver Flatware: Sites like Replacements Ltd are a MATCHING service for folks that DO enjoy Silver Flatware and have recognized patterns. Because they sell per piece, and buy per piece, sellers get a rather good price.

Porcelain figurines. Unless they are Meissen or Dresden, or another BIG value mark (look that up first on Markings on Porcelain) they are a hard sell. But there are collector’s clubs for everything even as banal as Hummels and Precious Moments. Those clubs have chat rooms and wanted lists and selling platforms. And each of those clubs holds conventions.

Heavy dark furniture. There is still a market for that sort of furniture, and my suggestion is to donate all of it, and take it as a non-cash charitable contribution using Fair Market Valuation (FMV). When you research FMV you can take a value modally across the nation through researching prices paid at various selling outlets such as auction houses. You can see reporting services of what such things sold for at for example. So even if you can’t get $200 for the George III mahogany dresser, you CAN sell it at auction on the east coast for $1000 and that would be the hypothetical FMV.

Fine Porcelain Dinnerware. Also something to sell to a replacement matching service. You have to know your pattern to get a quote. That’s fairly easy to research on their web sites like Replacements Ltd. and others, so take time to learn this market.

Linens. Source those little shops that make handmade Christening clothes and wedding dresses and fifteen-year-old Spanish celebration gowns. Also often you can donate those to costume shops of theatres and deduct the donation. has reported auction results on these. Note for a deduction you must source what a thing sold for NOT what it was offered for. So EBay is a bad choice for research.

Persian rugs. This was a valuable market in the 1980s and it takes a trained eye to know if you have a rag or an antique treasure worth thousands. For those you need an expert and the local rug dealers will not be honest with you. You need an appraiser. Once appraised, you can either sell to the high-end market, which is still collecting or you can’t sell them to anyone. If you find the value of the rug is below $2000 it is a HARD sell. Again the market on the east coast is the strongest and most active, so you can sometimes take that vale as FMV. I have been telling people to hold onto those as the market swings.

In her book, Collect Value Divest: The Savvy Appraiser, Elizabeth delivers short, concise chapters so that any collector can easily learn how to value their paintings, books, artifacts, and treasured possessions. She condenses her thirty years as a certified appraiser into easy-to-read anecdotes that cover commonly asked questions about value. She provides tips on how to buy, sell, insure, and auction, and explains how to bequeath pieces. Stewart shares her secrets of the art and antiques marketplace. Learn what appraisers don’t want you to know—all the tools to assess value, beauty, rarity, market level, provenance, and quality. Having appraised many estates for celebrities and CEOs, Stewart knows value and can detect frauds, and nothing, no matter how quirky or unusual, is beyond analysis.


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