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What to Look For When Checking the Condition of a Miniature Collectible

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Important Questions to Ask to When Evaluating the Condition of a Miniature Collectible You Intend to Buy or Sell.

This article assumes you have done some reading and understand the values and standards applied to your particular miniature. The important terminology which affects value includes: NRFB, MIB, OOAK, Artisan quality, Limited edition, Mint condition, Worn, Modified which are all described in the miniature basics glossary.

Do You Have All the Parts for The Miniature You Are Checking?

Are all the pieces of the original miniature or model present? What is missing? If the item has several pieces do they all look the same? (they may have been assembled from several different collections.) Completeness is important in deciding what condition the miniature collectible is in. If the miniature is part of a set, do all pieces come from an original set or have they been married together later. Do all the serial numbers or edition numbers match? Collectibles with mis matched parts are not as valuable as original sets.

Does Your Collectible Have All Original Parts and Packaging?

Are all parts of the collectible original? Has the miniature been refinished, reupholstered, repaired? If a figure is it dressed in original clothing? Are you sure from your reading that the miniature you are examining has not had pieces or fabrics replaced.

Is the original packaging with the miniature? What is the condition of the packaging? Any original packaging makes a collectible more valuable than one with packaging missing. The condition of the original packaging is important. It is preferable to have packaging which is as pristine as the collectible. In some cases the packaging may be more valuable than the collectible. See the dinky toy gallery for an example of important collectible packaging.

Are There Modifications to the Miniature?

Has the miniature been modified for display or use? Is the modification professional and well done, attributable to a particular artisan? Painting of miniature soldiers for example. If it has been done by a known professional does the miniature come with a Certificate of Authenticity? (COA) Is it signed by the artist? A signed COA gives the miniature provenance which may be very important for its value.

If the miniature has been obviously modifed but you have no documentation about the modification it may lower rather than raise the value.

Does your Collectible Have Documentation? Signatures or Marks?

Does any documentation accompany the Miniature? Certificates?, Certificates of Authenticity? A record of Provenance? Receipts? The proper documentation may add to the value of a collectible.

Is the piece signed? Is there a makers mark or stamp? The lack of a maker's mark or stamp does not mean the piece is not authentic. You need to check the history of the collectible to check whether it was ever made with a basestamp. You will also need to know what types of signatures particular artist's used on their pieces. Sometimes they vary, and particular signatures may be rarer than others.

Is the Collectible Bent or Warped ?

Is the miniature bent or warped from true? (metal and plastic miniatures). Miniatures which have been improperly stored, or which have been left close to heat registers or bright windows may have shifted or moved away from true. Metal miniatures which have been used a great deal or badly handled may be bent. If the miniature is plastic, warping will greatly affect its value. Bent metal miniatures may suffer in value as well.

Is the miniature bent or warped from true? (metal

What is the Condition of the Collectible's Finish?

What condition is the finish? As new? Worn? Chipped? Large areas missing or damaged? An item with surface damage to the finish will not have the same value as one in mint condition.

Is the colour correct and even (not faded)? Improperly stored or displayed items may have faded finishes which will decrease their value.

Cleaning glass and china in the dishwasher may etch items causing a non removable film. Check by dampening the surface and gently wiping it. If the film does not come off, the item cannot be repaired and has a lowered value.

Was the Collectible Well Made or Well Molded?

Are the mold lines crisp (pottery, porcelain, glass, resin, metal or plastic miniatures)? Items which were molded early in the use of the mold will have crisper lines and finish than items which came out of the mold after thousands of others. Better mold lines add to the value of an item.

Is the Condition or Price of the Collectible Too Good to be True?

Is the miniature clean? Is it too clean to be true? (art and some antique miniatures). Be careful of pristine items sold as antique or items sold as artist's copy or artist's original. A number of unscrupulous manufacturers remold objects in non original materials which are then sold on under a number of guises. If the price seems to low, check the item. If the condition seems too good compared with others you have seen, check the seller's credentials. If it is a valuable piece, seek the assistance of an appraiser.

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