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Understanding the history of an antique, often helps determine true value and how to sell it. Antique decorative wrought iron fences reached their peak of popularity in America during and after the Civil War. They became a status symbol denoting wealth. But a century later, when the demolition era of the 1960's raged across America, many wrought iron fences were lost to scrap-iron heaps. That is why they are rare today and coveted by many home restorers or garden enthusiasts as complementary antique yard decorations. These fences are rare antiques so don't settle for less than their true value when selling them. It's worth the time to do a little research and educate oneself, to realize more money for an antique wrought iron fence.
How to Determine Value
Research and compare prices for wrought iron fences in both local and national areas. Call local salvage yards. Check online prices by doing keyword searches. Email national auction houses to check prices realized for antique fences in specialty catalogs.
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Compare the number of sections, condition and attractiveness of design of the fence being sold to those researched.
Determine if the fence being sold has something unique about it, such as a carved animal figure ornament in the design. Unique elements can increase overall value significantly.
Taking all of the above research and factors into consideration, along with the original investment in the fence, determine a value for each section of the fence, and a total value for all. Once a price has been established, add an additional 20 to 30 percent to the asking price. This will give you room to lower the price during negotiation or to reduce the price later if unsold.
Based on what was learned in the research, create an ordered list of the best avenues to sell the fence, i.e. auction house, newspaper ad or online auction.
How to Sell
Begin the selling process with the first choice on list.
Provide information to the potential buyer if requested. Offer information or photographs to them beyond what is asked for, such as the research that has been done on the fence itself and on comparative prices. Buyers are impressed with knowledgeable sellers.
Be enthusiastic about selling the fence. Promote the history and beauty of the fence. Buyers are drawn to sellers who are optimistic and enthusiastic.
Negotiate--be prepared for offers that are well below the asking price. Do not be insulted. Make a counter offer. When an offer is made, always counteroffer with something lower than the original asking price, even if it is only $20. People who like to negotiate feel good when a seller reduces a price even minimally. Holding firm can make them feel manipulated and powerless during the negotiating process.
If the negotiation stalls, offer free delivery or other compensation.
If selling directly is difficult, the best way to sell an antique wrought iron fence is to put it at a local public auction with a reserve to protect the investment.
Antique dealers and salvage yards generally determine value of wrought iron fences by the square foot. For instance, in an online sale in 2009, the seller was selling 58 feet of wrought iron fencing, a total of 7 sections, for $2850. Another dealer was selling 70 feet for $3800. Still another advised selling 6 foot sections for $300-500 each.
Buyers pay more for quantities of the same decorative 6 foot section than they will for mismatched sections. The reasons same design sections are more, is they are harder to find, and therefore more valuable.
Keep an eye out for other antique cast iron yard ornaments. Items such as cast iron garden benches have sold for as much as $10,000 each. Some of the high-end New York auction houses periodically have sales of unique garden ornaments, wrought iron collectibles, etc. and produce catalogs with prices realized.
Don't sandblast or paint a wrought iron fence before selling. Many people want to buy fences with the original paint, rust and aged patina on the metal. Garden decorators feel that original fences blend with the garden landscape. Some people love these fences so much, they display them in their homes as art on a wall.
Be sure that the wrought iron fence being sold is not a modern reproduction. It's easy to be fooled if the fencing has weathered outside and appears to be old.