Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Pricing Reproduction Antiques & Similar Items

DM Production and Sales
Bringing The Past To The Present Since 1988

Pricing Reproduction Antiques & Similar Items

Over the years, we have noticed that there seems to be some confusion at times when one starts to talk about the pricing of Reproduction Antiques and similar items compared to the genuine article. I thought I might impart some information that might help buyers in this area. Often when one thinks of a Reproduction, they have the mind set of a cheap knock off item and mentally set a price to match. Of course, the quality of the item is the generally the governing factor on pricing, and this is where the problem of purchasing Reproductions online can cause problems. As hard as a seller and producer try’s, it is very difficult to duplicate the hands on experience of seeing and feeling an item that one gets in a B&M store. Because each potential buyer has their own set of criteria for what constitutes a good product there is always the potential for the online buyer to walk away from the sale less than happy. Hopefully this post will help guide the potential buyer in their purchases. Please remember that we deal almost exclusively in Reproductions made from wood. Although many of the things I'll discuss are pretty general, other types of items can have other factors that must be taken into account.

Let me address the "Pricing" factor. Time and Materials plus the Quality (which not only equals to the degree of authenticity of the item but the degree of detail of the item) generally are the biggest factors related to pricing. The higher the quality and detail of the item, the greater the amount of time is involved in the items production. Add to this any factors related to the materials used (such as its cost) and it is easy to see why there can be such a wide range in pricing seen in the area of Reproductions. One other factor that needs to be taken into account here is whether one is reproducing an item to resemble what it originally looked like when it was first made or is the item to look like it should after 50, 75, 100 plus years of use. This also will play a part in pricing. A good quality Reproduction can sometimes cost as much or even more than the genuine article. That being the case, then why do people buy reproductions? The three biggest reasons are that either the item they are seeking is simply unavailable because of scarcity or the cost of the original is way out of their financial reach at the moment and they are willing to settle for a very close duplicate or what they are going to be using the item for doesn't warrant the cost of an original.

Our business is a perfect example of this. Much of our business is of a custom nature. We supply items for Interior Designers & Decorators, Movie & Theater Production Companies and private individuals. When we get an order for items for a movie production company for example, the quality of the items is generally less than it would be for interior designers and decorators or for a private individual. The simple fact is that in the movie company’s perspective, the item isn't going to receive much, if any, scrutiny. In fact, it simply background to them. When they are done with it, they often don't care what really happens to it. Often they don't even save the items. In their situation, visible accuracy is far more important than the items authenticity to detail or its material quality. What we charge them is appropriate to what they want, request and receive. On the other side of the table, are private individuals. They usually want the very best. Not only in materials but in workmanship and accuracy. Again, the price we charge is directly related to their wants, requests and what they receive.

When we produce an item, we basically have four quality levels we work within. A "Basic", an "Average", a "High End" and a "Custom Detailed" levels. It would take too much time and space to go into the details of what each level constitutes. Obviously, a "Basic" level item is going to cost much less than a "Custom Detailed" level item for obvious reasons. The items we place in our online stores are generally on the high "Average" to "High End" levels in most instances and we are still able to price them at what we consider very reasonable prices.

Some recommendations for the Buyer of Reproductions:

When we do a custom project for a customer in our B&M. We spend a great deal of time talking with the customer and in research (where applicable) to make sure that we are both going to be happy with the product that is produced. That can be pretty tough in an online store. Descriptions of the item are important, but it just isn't practicable for us to put in a massive description of an item on every item we list online. As a buyer, you will be much happier if you:

1) Ask the Seller as many questions as you need to so you feel comfortable. Don't hesitate to ask for additional information, pictures and details. No respectable seller is going to refuse any reasonable request. Just don't expect to get answers to their trade secrets. If you are thinking of bidding on an item up for auction, please don't wait until the last day of the auction to ask your questions. Particularly if they are detailed ones. The answers to your questions will be much more detailed and accurate if the seller has a little time to work with.

2) Don't hesitate to inquire about the quality of the item, the materials it's made from, its history (if that's important to you) or shipping concerns if you have them.

3) Before you purchase, do your home work. Just because you see two item that look identical online and one is more expensive than the other, don't automatically assume that the expensive one is over priced. Remember the Quality factor. Ask those questions.

4) If the item you have purchased has a problem of any kind, contact the seller immediately. We haven't stayed in business for almost 30 years by ignoring customer problems and neither has any other reputable business. Any good business knows that if you don't satisfy the customer, you don't have them. On the other side of this however, be realistic and honest. I personally have been in this business so long, that I can smell a scam half a continent away.

5) Finally, even if it isn't one of our items your are looking at and need some background information we may be able to provide, we'll be glad to assist you.

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