Household liquidation: almost everything can still be sold

Household liquidation: almost everything can still be sold. Clutter (Source: Getty Images/trekandshoot)

There are always situations in life when you part with household goods. In case of a move for example. Or when the basement has simply become too full. Household liquidations of deceased family members are particularly unpleasant. In any case, however, the following applies: Don’t throw everything out with the bulky refuse straight away. Almost everything can still be turned into money.


According to the Federal Association of German Auctioneers, almost anything from a normal household can be sold if the owners are clever about it. The association advises relatives and friends not to act hastily in a household liquidation, but to take a close look at the entire furnishing. Because often it is inconspicuous pieces that can be precious. But even if no treasures are found, in most cases a good return can still be achieved. Throwing away is the very last option.

With jewelry and porcelain to the expert

As a rule, paintings, jewelry, furniture and porcelain promise the greatest proceeds. Owners can easily find out how much these pieces are going for by looking at pictures on the Internet. Clues are for example the signatures. Jewelry and porcelain should be appraised by an expert, as well as furniture. They are usually only of interest to buyers if they are old. This is true for pieces from the Grunderzeit around 1880. But also Bauhaus furniture from the 1920s. Century run well at auctions.

Especially in demand are smaller pieces such as dressing tables or tables, which combine well with modern design. In her experience, there is little interest in furniture from the 1940s to the 1980s. Books also have a hard time, if they are not old or very special.

For old toys there is a large market

Collectors sometimes pay a lot of money for things that laymen underestimate. For example, for old toys, preferably still in the original packaging. There is a particularly large market for dolls, cars, trains and tin toys. Some employees of auction houses are happy to give information about the value of the pieces. Who brings his things himself, does not have to pay for the consultation.

Help is also available from the Bundesverband offentlich bestellter und vereidigter Kunstsachverstandiger (Federal Association of publicly appointed and sworn art experts) and qualified art experts. On its homepage addresses of experts in many different fields are listed.

An auction is often also a gamble

However, the proceeds from an auction do not only depend on the actual value of the item. Also the daily form of the present bidders plays a role. Especially if there are collectors among the interested parties, they can build each other up and thus the bidding. This was also the case with a picture from an inheritance that the heirs had rejected. It hung in a completely smoky apartment. Auctioneers were not initially aware of its value. An executor finally had it auctioned off. It brought 100.000 euros.

Offer items as a complete package

Mostly, however, it is quite normal everyday objects that come under the hammer. The auctioneer recommends not to offer them individually, but to put larger lots together. Because lots with different porcelain items or kitchen utensils sell better than the individual pieces. Also electronic devices, clothes or books can be summarized in such a way. So in the end there is less left.

The spirit of the times plays a big role

Sometimes old things get new attention, because they suddenly correspond to the spirit of the age. For example, households in the new federal states often contain pieces that are now highly sought after by collectors – and not just in Germany, according to the Museum fur Alltagskultur (Museum of Everyday Culture) in Eisenhuttenstadt. There is even a GDR museum in Los Angeles. Many typical products are exhibited here. Like, for example, the RG 28 stirrer from the AKA Elektrik combine from the 1970s. This is still in use. Many people who use it are not even aware that buyers at home and abroad are interested in it.

Collections of magazines from the GDR era also bring good money. Who, for example, all issues of the "Mosaik" owns, has a gold treasure. In this way, the number 1 alone can sell for more than 1.000 euros – and that at a price of 60 East German pfennigs at the time. The children’s magazine "Atze" is also very popular, a kind of comic magazine, which was published from 1955 to 1991.

It does not always have to be money

Even things that cannot necessarily be turned into money often still have a great sentimental value because they are historically significant. Letters, journals and books with marginal notes, for example, provide insight into the lives of people at the respective time. These can therefore also be interesting for museums and exhibitions. If you find something in an estate, you should show it to a professional before throwing it away.

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One way to get rid of household goods and do some good at the same time is to donate them. Many associations in the various regions are always happy to receive clothing, furniture and tableware, for example the German Caritas Association in Berlin. The donations are distributed or sold to needy people in clothing stores and social department stores. But it is important that the things are absolutely in order. Questions of fashion or taste do not play a role here. The condition of the item should be so good that you would still use it yourself.

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