Thomas Till & Son/s

Thomas Till and Son/s Online Museum

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Valuations and valuing what you have...

Posted by thomastillandsons on June 15, 2012 at 6:15 PM

I suppose our main source of Thomas Till finds is on the internet because neither of us drive. It is a rare event to go into a charity shop and have an interesting find as we did with our original 'Venus' dinner service. I say dinner service but it was a part service consisting of 12 place settings of various size dinner plates, large soup bowls, a gravy boat and base and a few other items. For this we paid the grand sum of £30.00. Our knowledge of Thomas Till then was nil! My husband was convinced it was a 1970's service but I did have a feeling that it was much older and in the category of vintage at least but I wasn't going to argue. I liked it and that was enough!

When we checked out the manufacturer we were delighted to find out that it had to be made before 1928 - though we now understand it is Victorian - and we saw that Burslem Antiques in Staffordshire were selling a graded set of three platters in the same pattern for £100.00. We decided to buy them and that was the real start of our collection.

So why were we prepared to pay £100 for the platters but only £30.00 for the part dinner service? There is no doubt that a part tea or dinner service is not that desirable, however pretty or old. In fact an older service has the disadvantage that it can be virtually impossible to make up spare items because of its great age so one has to accept the possibility of mixed matches such as flow blue mixes or imari mixes to make up a workable 'shabby chic' set. However, a set of three very good condition platters was worth that amount to us because they were desirable in their own right and it was pure luck that they were in the same pattern as our newly acquired 'Venus' part service. We have managed to put together a complete dinner service with spares over the years but we couldn't have guaranteed it.

The important thing about my message is that we value all of our 'Venus' pieces because they were our first Till items but it is not about the actual cost. Sadly it would appear that value and valuing what you have are two different sets of ideals. For instance we were very excited to come across this new handpainted pattern for sale described as a tea set. We would have been really interested in the set but on further reading we discovered that it only consisted of 7 cups and saucers, a sugar bowl and a cake plate. That is NOT a set... We were less that impressed by the fact that this lovely handpainted ware was beautifully displayed on the top of a wheelie bin (?!) and the seller was chancing their arm by asking for the ridiculous starting price of £100.00! Nice try but we were put off this completely. In this instance the seller might have been better selling cup and saucers sets and the sugar and cake plate separately. To call it a set is false. A set has to have an even number of cups, saucers and possibly side plates if there is a cake plate. A creamer and sugar bowl are a must but a full set really consists of a teapot with lid and stand. Unfortunately many people collect teapots so sets are often broken. I'm afraid that the value put on this 'set' was completely unrealistic but more importantly, the seller clearly didn't value the item for what it was by sticking it on a dustbin!

So what would have been a reasonable price? If individual cups and saucers had been advertised with a starting price of £ 5.00 we might have placed a bid upto £10.00 per item. We may also have done the same for the sugar bowl and cake plate. We would have been unlikely to go for more than 6 cups and saucers but individually this could have added up to between £40.00 &  £80.00 which is pretty damned good for a part set! (We might have bid for the 7th cup and saucer as a spare) So £100 was a bit optimistic but if the seller had valued the items more and displayed them better they could still have got a good price. As it happens I don't believe the 'set' sold...

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