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Guide to Buying and Selling Antiques at a Pawn Shop

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Want to declutter your home and get cash for antiques you no longer want? Or are you passionate about antiques and want to collect more items? Whether you want to buy or sell antiques, this guide to buying and selling antiques at a pawn shop can help you!

To be classified as an antique, an item must be at least 100 years old.

Read on for helpful tips and advice on buying and selling antiques at a pawn shop. And learn why a pawn shop is your best option and how to determine the value of antiques.

Woman inside an antique store

Why Buy or Sell Antiques at a Pawn Shop?

There are many places where you can buy and sell antiques. It includes auction houses, antique dealers, and online marketplaces, such as Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and eBay. So why choose a pawn shop?

Here are some of the best reasons why you should buy or sell antiques at a pawn shop:

#1. No Stolen or Fake Antiques

All antiques are carefully vetted by expert professionals. Pawn shops never buy and sell stolen or fake antiques. The same might not apply to other places – you’re much more likely to find suspicious products elsewhere than in a pawn shop.

#2. No Buyer and Seller Fees

Pawn shops don’t charge buyers and sellers a fee when they buy or sell an item.

Auction houses typically charge sellers a commission of 10% – 35% on the hammer price.

For example:

10% of all individual auction lots selling above $7,001

15% of all individual auction lots selling between $3,501 – $7,000

20% of all individual auction lots selling between $1,001 – $3,500

25% of all individual auction lots selling between $201 – $1,000

35% of all individual auction lots selling between $1 – $200

Many auction houses don’t only charge a seller’s commission but also a buyer’s commission. For example, if the auction house wants a 25% commission, they may charge the seller 15% and the buyer 10%.

#3. No Waiting

Whether you want to buy or sell antiques at a pawn shop, there’s no waiting. You can walk in, buy the item you like, and walk out with it. And if you want to sell an antique item, you can walk in with it and walk out with cash in your pocket.

If you want to sell antiques at another place, you typically need to be patient. For example, most auction houses don’t have daily auctions and won’t accept new items shortly before an auction. And regardless of whether you list your item(s) on eBay, Craigslist, or sell through an auction house, you have no guarantee it will sell.

#4. Safe From Scammers

Pawn shops are one of the most regulated industries in the United States. Although most antique buyers and sellers on platforms such as Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace may be legitimate, scammers always find a way to infiltrate these platforms.

#5. Face-to-Face Communication

Talking face-to-face with someone in a pawn shop about buying and selling antiques is much better (and safer!) than dealing with a stranger online.

If you’re a buyer, there is no substitute for touching or holding the item you want to buy. And if you’re a seller, you can get your message across much better by talking face-to-face with someone at a pawn shop. Relying on photographs to sell your item is far from ideal.

Save yourself the headache and risk of dealing with a stranger online about buying or selling antiques.

Unique Benefits Pawn Shops Offer

For Sellers

There are times when you might not want to sell your antiques but need money in a hurry. Pawn shops give you the option of pawning rather than selling your antiques. It allows you to get a short-term collateral loan and collect your item(s) once you redeem your loan.

For Buyers

Some antiques are rare or unique. If you don’t buy them straight away, you might never get another opportunity to do so. But what if you do not have the budget or funds to pay for an item right away?

Pawn shops usually offer a layaway program that allows you to pay off the item over time. Once paid, you can collect it. And best of all, no proof of income or credit check is required. In addition, pawn shops typically do not charge any fees or interest on their layaway program.

How to Determine the Value of Antiques

Whether you want to buy or sell an antique item, knowing its value beforehand is always advisable.

Here are some resources that can help you determine the value of antiques:

Sold Listings on eBay

Search for an item on eBay, such as “antique dresser.” Find the “Show only” heading and tick the “Sold Items” block. It will show you recent items sold and how much they fetched.

Note that you can also narrow down your search. Using our antique dresser, for example, you can choose items by the material used, when it was manufactured, the number of drawers, style, etc.

Miller’s Antiques Handbook & Price Guide

Miller’s Antiques Handbook & Price Guide is the world’s best-selling antique price guide. It’s a great resource if you need to know the value of antiques. is a useful free research tool. It has a database of over 29 million art, antiques, jewelry, furniture, collectible, and fashion auction results that were auctioned off from thousands of global auction houses.

Tips for Buying and Selling Antiques at a Pawn Shop

  • Do Your Research – Learn as much as possible about the item you want to buy or sell, including its history (provenance) and market value. Buying or selling antiques should be an informed decision, not based on assumptions or guesswork. 
  • Negotiate – Most pawn shops are at least slightly flexible on price.
  • First Impressions Matter – Clean any item you want to sell to make it more presentable. It might impact the price if an item appears well looked after.
  • Do a Thorough Inspection – Items more than 100 years old are often not in perfect condition. However, always carefully inspect any antique you want to buy for hidden damage that might not be obvious at first glance.
  • Buy What You Love – Buying antiques might be a good investment, but not always. Buy what you love and not what you think could appreciate over time. 
  • Phone First – Before going to a pawn shop with your heavy antique dresser, phone them to find out if they might be interested in it. It might save you a lot of time and effort!
  • Know When to Walk Away – Not all pawn shops have the space to display antique furniture or can meet your price expectations. If you can’t reach a favorable agreement with a pawn shop, walk away. Perhaps another pawn shop can be of assistance.

That's a Wrap

After reading this article, you know:

  • Why you should buy or sell antiques at a pawn shop
  • What makes pawn shops better than other options
  • How to determine the value of antiques
  • How to buy and sell antiques at a pawn shop   

We recommend going to a pawn shop as your first port of call when buying or selling antiques and only consider other options if you don’t come right.

If you have any questions about an antique item you want to buy, sell, pawn, or have evaluated – don’t hesitate to contact Maxferd.

Call us at (800) 888-7296 or visit one of our five locations in San Francisco and Los Angeles to find out how we can assist you.