Q: My collection of postcards from the early 1900s numbers more than 550 cards. How do I find someone to buy? I want to sell the entire collection.

- Gerald, Lima, Ohio

A: Smart collectors know that postcard buyers collect by categories such as flowers, specific states, holidays and so forth. Happily, our reader collected that way, as his cards are organized into important sites, friendship, special occasions and more. Photocopies sent show themes including American Indians, florals, fashionable ladies, love and gardening.

Best of all, many are from Germany, where lithography was an advanced art. Good early lithography is very collectible, certainly in postcard collecting where visuals and theme are everything.

In this hobby, value depends on the maker, quality of the cards, and their rarity and condition. To be valuable, a card must be rare.

A few cards reach $500. More retail at $1, but most cards average $3 to $4. Age is not always a determinant. Cards from 1910 sell for pennies when they're not the right stuff.

At the very top end, exceptional cards fetch well into five figures.

The key to an advantageous sale is finding a motivated buyer. Because the collection is large and because it was collected with a discerning eye, I recommend shopping it as a whole to a regional auction that sells entire collections.

Also key is finding a house that will market the cards properly. Smaller auctions and those with little interest in promoting unique collections tend to dump contents in a box and sell off box lots.

Find a volume dealer through www.playle.com, a consortium of postcard sellers. Dealers like variety, but pay less. A Florida site, www.vintagepostcards.com, buys and sells postcards. Local postcard clubs have shows where the public can buy and sell.

Q: I want to sell a Piero Benzoni chess set made in Italy. I bought it in Canada around 1983. Can't find a set like it on the Net.

- Rick, Orlando, Fla.

A: Images sent show a decorative chess set made by the Italian sculptor. Sold by luxury retailers, Benzoni sets are the ultimate in posh.

Cast in a medieval theme, the set features armies of detailed sculptured pieces almost 4 inches high.

Key www.pianki.com and hit the brand pull-down to access six pages of Piero Benzoni (scroll down to the "Ps") sets. You'll see that current sets retail at $3,000 for minis to $30,515 for a swank medieval set. Deluxe medieval pieces alone are $113,575. A fitted suitcase for sets is $495.

We couldn't find a set with bases that match the reader's vintage figures. Detailing seems to place it in the upper value bracket.

There are no auction records, but we found a similar set listed on eBay starting at $4,000. I suggest shopping it to regional auction houses.

Danielle Arnet welcomes questions from readers. She will answer those of general interest in her column. Send e-mail to smartcollector@comcast.net or write Danielle Arnet, c/o Tribune Media Services, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1400, Chicago 60611. Please include an address. Photos cannot be returned.


Considering current prices of fine antique furniture, copies and repros are a way to have status pieces on the (relative) cheap. Copies, or pieces "in the style of," tend to have a ceiling at auction, but recently two examples did well. A massive George I style lacquered bureau bookcase, made exactly as originals were made with all handwork and 23K gold leaf, brought $6,100 at Bonhams. Part of a specialty sale featuring items from a San Francisco company that specializes in making "new antiques," the piece was not an exact copy, but had the look of an original. In Chicago, Leslie Hindman Auctioneers sold a George II style red lacquered secretary decorated with Chinoiserie for $207,400. Deaccessioned from an Atlanta museum, it went to a foreign dealer who will do well when he turns it over.