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Finding values for brass models

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Finding values for brass models
Posted by Autonerd on Monday, July 3, 2023 10:54 AM

Hey everyone -- I've been helping somoene pack up her deceased husband's collection of HO and O brass. Her plan is to have Brasstrains.com (or possibly another business) sell it on consignment, and she's open to letting our club members have first crack with fair offers. There's some really nice high-end stuff here, and I'm on an Athearn blue box budget, so this is a new world to me. Brasstrains has the Brass Guide -- is this a reliable index for prices? Someone else told me they're a bit on the high side.

Aaron

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Monday, July 3, 2023 11:21 AM

Autonerd
Brasstrains has the Brass Guide -- is this a reliable index for prices? Someone else told me they're a bit on the high side.

It is as close as you are going to find.

When looking at items for bid on eBay, I check the brass guide, and probably 50% of the time they are within 10%of the final bid price. I don't think anything else could be more accurate.

-Kevin

Living the dream.

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, July 3, 2023 11:32 AM

I see very few instances where Brasstrains stock, consigned or otherwise, fails to sell.  I do not know if they were 'sold' at the listed price, but I'd assume they were unless proven otherwise.  Unless this is a 'forced sale' -- and I'd advise that you be prepared to sit until you do get 'your' price -- the brass-guide price is what Brasstrains would get, and they'd take out their fees for listing and shipping, etc.

If you offered anything, you should ask what you think is a fair return net of all your cost to pack and ship (or make available for pickup if you are comfortable with that).  The worst thing would be to ask high and choose to discount from that if you (in your sole judgment) want to.

In my opinion, your decision to sell on consignment is wise.  I have never seen anywhere near Brass Guide prices offered when I have asked about selling brass in the past -- it is usually only a relatively tiny fraction, 'take it or leave it; we have to assume the risk of reselling' (or some such excuse).  Do not go that route unless you truly have no alternative.

The issue about contacting members here before the sale is complicated by Kalmbach policy and incompetence.  Offering items for sale, and perhaps describing them as an implied part of offering them for sale, is explicitly prohibited by the MR version of the Kalmbach terms of service.  However, the logical 'alternative' was to PM prospective customers expressing interest (which is unworkable because the PM system is broken) or e-mailing them if they had a contract address listed in their profile (which is unworkable because access to profile information is broken).  I'd very much like Steve Otte to describe exactly how you ought to proceed in this situation.  The only real 'alternative' I see is that interested parties provide contact information in a post -- and that has real, and probably justifiably serious -- risks on the forum as it is currently secured and implemented.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Monday, July 3, 2023 11:57 AM

More Thoughts...

Autonerd
I've been helping somoene pack up her deceased husband's collection of HO and O brass.

As someone who has done this too many times, I am sure your help is appreciated, but this will not always be obvious.

Autonerd
Her plan is to have Brasstrains.com (or possibly another business) sell it on consignment.

I don't know how consignment works with BrassTrainsDotCom. Have you contacted them yet? Remember, they maintain a very expensive web presence, full time staff, professional photography, and a massive buyer population. That is not cheap.

If they offer you 50% to 60% of their guide price to buy the collection, I would consider that fair, and less headaches than consigning it.

Autonerd
She's open to letting our club members have first crack with fair offers.

Any cash offer of 50% BrassTrainsDotCom price or better I would accept with no reservations.

Autonerd
There's some really nice high-end stuff here.

BrassTrainsDotCom would be the place to unload real high-end items. They have the real buyers searching their site daily. Finding these buyers is the hard part.

The way to maximize the money from sales is to sell them on eBay individually. This requires good photographs, accurate desciptions, and A LOT of your time. I do not think this is ever worth the effort unless it is your own items. Only once did I try to sell a collection on eBay for a widow. It was not worth the time and effort. Never again.

-Kevin

Living the dream.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Monday, July 3, 2023 12:25 PM

Another option (after the club members have had their promised first crack) would be to sell the collection en masse to an outfit called trainz.com. They're easily found with an Internet search and they cover the whole gamut of toy and model trains. 

Mind you, this would be an option if they want the money now.  And bear in mind trainz.com won't pay what they consider they're worth, they have to sell them for what they consider they're worth.  They'd have to contact them for particulars but I believe they'll make "housecalls" for large collections.

Something else to consider. 

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Posted by Lone Wolf and Santa Fe on Monday, July 3, 2023 12:27 PM

According to my college Business Economics professor the value of an item is whatever people are willing to pay in a free market with many buyers and sellers. eBay is the best example of this. Books and other publications are always out of date by the time you read them. This was also told to me by people who work at pawn shops who are experts in knowning the value of an item.

Search for each item individually but don't go by the price that people have listed the item for. Instead there is a box in the left column which says 'sold items'. Check mark the box. This will show you a list of the price people actually paid for that item. The average of these is the true market value.

I hope this helps.

Modeling a fictional version of California set in the 1990s Lone Wolf and Santa Fe Railroad
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Posted by Autonerd on Monday, July 3, 2023 12:42 PM

Thanks all for the advice (and please keep it coming).

The owner has talked to BT, and I believe their comission on consignment is 25%, plus she has to ship the models to them. (Her late husband did lots of business with them, so I would hope they would be inclined to treat her right.)

EBay Sold Listings is my go-to -- but a lot of this is limited-run and high-end stuff and it's difficult to find on the 'Bay. 

I had much the same notion about consignment vs. outright sale -- I have seen some awful dealer lowballs, and I figure with consignment, the seller has skin in the game. 

Did not realize the issue with stuff for sale on MR -- admins, let me know if I need to edit my post. Happily, I have a work-around: I check email for my club/museum, so I can be contacted here: https://www.pmrrm.org/directions-and-map/

Again, thank you for the guidance (I will refer the owner here!) and please keep it coming.

Aaron

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Monday, July 3, 2023 11:16 PM

There is also an outfit in Indiana called "Toy Trains And Other Old Stuff" that themed has auctions every couple of weeks.

They have buyers, and a lot of there stuff sells for higher prices than eBay for some reason.

I have never won an auction from them. I am always outbid.

-Kevin

Living the dream.

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Posted by nealknows on Tuesday, July 4, 2023 8:25 AM

I've sold some of my brass diesel engines (all factory painted) to brasstrains.com. They were very fair and told me up front what they were willing to pay. I've met them at some train shows years ago, so that gave me a good feeling when I sent them my brass trains. 

Good luck!

Neal

DrW
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Posted by DrW on Wednesday, July 5, 2023 5:23 PM

Flintlock76

Another option (after the club members have had their promised first crack) would be to sell the collection en masse to an outfit called trainz.com. They're easily found with an Internet search and they cover the whole gamut of toy and model trains. 

Mind you, this would be an option if they want the money now.  And bear in mind trainz.com won't pay what they consider they're worth, they have to sell them for what they consider they're worth.  They'd have to contact them for particulars but I believe they'll make "housecalls" for large collections.

Something else to consider. 

 

I would be very interested to see how much trainz.com pays for your stuff. Their prices on eBay are mostly significantly higher that brasstrains.com (or other dealers). A very recent example that comes to my head (non-brass), a Rapido freight car. MSRP $55 (US), some dealers offered it for $46-48; trainz.com price $67.

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Posted by PRR8259 on Thursday, July 6, 2023 12:52 AM

Trainz pays 50% of what they think they can sell it for.  You fill out an inventory spreadsheet and email it to them (or a .pdf of it) then they make an offer.  You then sign a contract before they send you the prepaid shipping labels. Very fair.

If a large collection they will come pick it up and do all the inventory work, etc. but they still will either make a 50% cash offer or they may consign it--but their consignment fee is still 50% of what they sell it for.  If you consign it will take a lot longer to get paid, as they must catalogue, list on ebay, sell, etc. which all takes time.

They typically cut the checks once a month, and there may be a delay while they catalogue your items into stock, of a few weeks.

For brass or brass hybrid items I personally use Brasstrains.com.  Their consignment fee is only 25% and many items sell immediately if they are scarce or desirable.  They have heavy hitting customers around the world that pay big money--people that watch their website daily and scarf really good items up as soon as they are listed.  With the allowed return period, they too only cut checks once per month unless you accept electronic transfer.

I use Trainz for plastic model train items.  They prefer you to have $2000 worth of items so that their minimum check will be $1000 back to you.

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Posted by Doughless on Thursday, July 6, 2023 10:09 AM

PRR8259

Trainz pays 50% of what they think they can sell it for.  You fill out an inventory spreadsheet and email it to them (or a .pdf of it) then they make an offer.  You then sign a contract before they send you the prepaid shipping labels. Very fair.

If a large collection they will come pick it up and do all the inventory work, etc. but they still will either make a 50% cash offer or they may consign it--but their consignment fee is still 50% of what they sell it for.  If you consign it will take a lot longer to get paid, as they must catalogue, list on ebay, sell, etc. which all takes time.

They typically cut the checks once a month, and there may be a delay while they catalogue your items into stock, of a few weeks.

For brass or brass hybrid items I personally use Brasstrains.com.  Their consignment fee is only 25% and many items sell immediately if they are scarce or desirable.  They have heavy hitting customers around the world that pay big money--people that watch their website daily and scarf really good items up as soon as they are listed.  With the allowed return period, they too only cut checks once per month unless you accept electronic transfer.

I use Trainz for plastic model train items.  They prefer you to have $2000 worth of items so that their minimum check will be $1000 back to you.

 

I can't speak to Brass but I have had some dealings with Trainz, both as a seller and a buyer.

Recently, it seems as though their retail pricing is all over the place.  Generally, if an item is listed for sale they will drop the price weekly until its sold.

But when an item is onboarded, I have seen them priced at super high prices, and other similar items priced at below "market".  There appears to be no consistency as to why.

I only mention this because if their buyers price our stock all over the place, like their listing department does, what you get for your items could vary quite a bit.

So I would not infer there is a rigid rule by which your offer comes.  Its beneficial to try Trainz regardless and see what they say.

- Douglas

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Posted by Howard Zane on Thursday, July 6, 2023 10:11 AM

Years back an appraiser could be found and could usually do an accurate job for brass models or most anything in all scales. Today, not so... your best bet would be to get several bids from reputable dealers and interpolate for the best price. I found eBay to be a terrible barometer as many times two or more get into a bidding war and price shoots up way above a reasonable value for item. Then some really fine items don't bring much, possibly due to the likely buyer or buyers not being on line during listing period. Brass models were nerver mainstream, but certainly more popular in past decades. I was once one of these appraisers and a dealer in out of production brass models (not always used). I would offer only one of my services to a customer as to appraise and then make offer to purchase is poor ethics and then some. When appraising I'd value the model on the quality of the build first....meaning that today very few know about Japanese excellent  workmanship vs. today's crop or quite lovely Korean models. Strip off the fancy finishes and disassemble a Korean model......a different story altogether. I also quit custom painting years back due to these differences. 

Howard Zane
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Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, July 6, 2023 10:38 AM

PRR8259
People that watch their website daily and scarf really good items up as soon as they are listed. 

I am one of those.

BrassTrainsDotCom is checked every day at about 10:00 AM.

I am only interested in unpainted brass freight cars. I have all the locomotives I will ever need already.

They set their prices well. Most things are right in line with what people are willing to pay. I am interested in the unique and unusual, and if I don't check daily, they are gone by tomorrow.

Doughless
Generally, if an item is listed for sale they will drop the price weekly until its sold.

Sometimes the price drop is drastic.

I was recently considering a Fine Scale Miniatures kit at Trainz. They were asking a fair price.

Then, one day they dropped the price by 67% Surprise and someone else got it before me. I missed out.

-Kevin

Living the dream.

DrW
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Posted by DrW on Thursday, July 6, 2023 11:06 AM

PRR8259

Trainz pays 50% of what they think they can sell it for.  You fill out an inventory spreadsheet and email it to them (or a .pdf of it) then they make an offer.  You then sign a contract before they send you the prepaid shipping labels. Very fair.

If a large collection they will come pick it up and do all the inventory work, etc. but they still will either make a 50% cash offer or they may consign it--but their consignment fee is still 50% of what they sell it for.  If you consign it will take a lot longer to get paid, as they must catalogue, list on ebay, sell, etc. which all takes time.

They typically cut the checks once a month, and there may be a delay while they catalogue your items into stock, of a few weeks.

For brass or brass hybrid items I personally use Brasstrains.com.  Their consignment fee is only 25% and many items sell immediately if they are scarce or desirable.  They have heavy hitting customers around the world that pay big money--people that watch their website daily and scarf really good items up as soon as they are listed.  With the allowed return period, they too only cut checks once per month unless you accept electronic transfer.

I use Trainz for plastic model train items.  They prefer you to have $2000 worth of items so that their minimum check will be $1000 back to you.

 

 

Very helpful! Thanks!

JW

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Thursday, July 6, 2023 11:35 AM

Doughless
I can't speak to Brass but I have had some dealings with Trainz, both as a seller and a buyer. Recently, it seems as though their retail pricing is all over the place.  Generally, if an item is listed for sale they will drop the price weekly until its sold.

I've noticed the same, not as a buyer but as someone who looks in often out of curiosity just to get a feel for the O Gauge market.

I suspect sometimes they have to make a "best guess" as to price, they (and everyone else) can't know everything about everything. Still, they've got a good reputation in the O Gauge world for what it's worth. 

Another good auction organization our club members have had good luck with is Cabin Fever Auctions out of Pennsylvania. As I understand it they're not buying collections at this time but they'll auction anything.  They'd have to be contacted directly for particulars, obviously I can't speak for them personally.

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Posted by PRR8259 on Thursday, July 6, 2023 11:47 AM

My perception is that Trainz has treated me pretty well and fairly with their pricing.  My preliminary estimates of what they might allow me which I obviously did not share with them were actually pretty close to what they actually offered--within a few dollars.  For the items I provided them to sell, I think they did a very thorough job on the pricing.

I inquired about consignment and they strongly discouraged that.  Either way the percentage is 50%.  They do have many employees so some might do a better job on estimating and payouts than others would do.   Either that or the people doing the ebay listings are learning on the fly.

They have purchased 3 lots of items from me this year. I get paid after they check my items in but BEFORE they ever list them.  I did much better with my third and final lot (than what my previous estimates were versus what they actually allowed me).

In most cases you send them the items. They pay the shipping. You sign a contract which guarantees what you will be paid BEFORE they ever send you the shipping labels. They may deduct for damage or problems but mostly they pay exactly what they say they will pay you.

What they actually get for them has nothing to do with me because I signed a contract and am capped at that price.

John

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