How do you know if the piece you have is truly rare?

One of the words that I hear a lot when I am shopping at a local flea market or even on the internet is the word “rare”.  What goes into labeling an item rare?

The first thing to consider is how many pieces were originally made.  The fewer the items that were made means that there are not as many on the secondary market.

Materials that an item is made of will help drive rarity.  For example, enamelware will have quite a few common items, and one of the collectible areas for enamelware is called “End Of The Day”.  These pieces were literally made at the end of the workday and have at least 3 different colors on them.  The employees that produced this type of item used up the excess materials that were left after a full day’s work.  With this, there will be some interesting color combinations on different pieces.

Another thing to consider is how often an item is used.  This could be a toy that is played with or even a piece of jewelry that is worn.  The more an item is used, the more wear and tear (and even damage) can occur.  It is harder to find an item that is used every day that’s in excellent or even mint shape.

Items like clothing, glassware or even pottery are going to be more fragile.  This will lead to chips, moth holes, cracks, or even rips and tears.  Damage like this will help drive up the price of the good examples.

Handmade pieces also tend to be rare as well.  This is a wide range of items that include autographs, paintings, tramp art, and even furniture.  Because they are handmade (rather than mass produced items), they are one-of-a-kind pieces.  Collectors are often willing to pay more for an item they love that they will never see again!

We all know that plenty of homework helps uncover what items are truly rare!  What kinds of rarities are you on the hunt for?

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