Antique chandeliers are attractive, functional and can be quite valuable. You may already own a vintage piece and want to know how much it is worth, or you may be in the market to buy a historic fixture and want to know how much to pay. The price of an older chandelier is affected by many factors. Research is key to understanding the value of antique light fixtures.
Examine the Condition
Like any collectible, a chandelier that is in good, original condition will have more value than one that is in poor condition or that has been extensively refurbished. Examine the crystal to look for chips and cracks. Check whether any pieces of the crystal are missing or have been replaced with newer material. If there are metal components, look for bends or small splits and whether the metal has its original patina or has been refinished.
Look for a Maker’s Mark
Examine your chandelier for any kind of mark that indicates the manufacturer. This could be a name acid-etched in the crystal, information engraved on the metal portion of the fixture or a name plate affixed to the piece. Look through any material that came with the fixture, including paperwork, receipts or a box. Knowing who made the chandelier will make assessing its value easier. Also, people will pay more if the piece was made by a well-known manufacturer.
Uncover the Piece’s Provenance
Where the fixture hung or who owned it can influence the value of a chandelier. Find out if the piece hung in a famous home or in a government building. Determine if the light fixture was once owned by someone of wealth or prominence. Even if the “fame” of the fixture is purely local, that added piece of history and nostalgia very often increases the value of the chandelier.
Check Lighting Price Guides
A library or bookstore will have price guides for antique lighting. If you are unable to locate an example of your particular piece, look at the prices given for lighting that has a similar look or that is from the same manufacturer, which will give you an estimate regarding the value of your chandelier.
Research the Marketplace
Much of the time, the value of a chandelier is based on what the market is willing to pay. Look for previous sales of fixtures to see what prices were achieved. Many antique chandeliers are sold through auction houses. Large establishments, such as Christie's, have online records of completed auctions. The Web site WorthPoint features realized prices from auctions and Internet antique stores. In addition, ask local sellers of antique lighting which fixtures are selling well and for how much.
Get a Professional Appraisal
If you need a definitive value, especially for insurance purposes, contact an expert appraiser to give you a written valuation of your chandelier.