Price Value Cost


This article was published in the November/December 1999 issue of AntiquePrime Magazine & Journal.

For What It's Worth ...

Q. What is the difference between price, cost, and value?

A. Although sometimes used interchangeably, these three words are not synonymous. Price is the amount of money asked for. Cost is the amount actually paid. If you go to a garage sale and see an item with a $10 sticker on it, $10 is the asking price. If you are a good negotiator, you might pay only $7.50, the buyer's cost.

Value is always justifiable, but cost and price are not. Here's an example. You go to an auction and bid on an item that you like, but that you know little about. There is fierce competition with other bidders. The knowledgeable bidders drop out at about $100. You finally win the bid for the item at $250. The value of the item is not $250; it is the cost. The value, what is most commonly paid by informed purchasers, is $100. Let's look at another example. At an estate sale, you notice a dirty glass vase in a dark corner. It is tagged with just a few dollars asking price. You quickly snap it up, pay the full price asked, bring it home, clean it, and discover a Lalique mark. In this instance, price and cost are the same (you didn't haggle), but the value is much greater. You, either as a knowledgeable buyer or as just a lucky purchaser, have paid well below what a serious collector would have spent.

Sometimes prices are set high in anticipation of being lowered as an inducement to the buyer to make a purchase. Sometimes prices are high because the seller thinks an item is genuine, when in fact, it is a reproduction. If you make a purchase and pay what an item is worth, cost equals value. But cost is not synonymous with value.

Q. Where can I learn more about appraising as a profession?

A. If you want to read up on identifying, understanding, and valuing your treasures, reach for Emyl Jenkin's Appraisal Book, published by Crown Trade Paperbacks, New York, ISBN 0-517-88434-8. For training in the theory and principles of appraisal practice, the International Society of Appraisers (ISA) has just come out with a Distance Education course. You can get more information about the home study course by calling ISA at (888) 472-4732.

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