MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK: Online auctions and appraisals

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Grandmother's silver, your father's watch, that weird thing you picked up at a yard sale because it intrigued you. Ever wonder how much it's worth?

Davis Staples can tell you. He's been in the auction business for more than 25 years and he's seen it all.

"They don't want to become the next biggest loser news story of someone finding something in their sale that was worth a bloody fortune because they either did their own tag sale or they picked a local low audience resource to sell the assets," said Staples.

Online auctions at have a global audience, and it's those buyers that determine an item's true value.

"A large audience, filled with experts, becomes the equivalent of a thousand appraisals - and everyone's voting with their own checkbook," said Staples.

Even if you've had your item appraised, it could be worth more. A nationally-certified appraiser pegged a Kentucky long rifle at $1,100 - it brought $3700 in an online sale. A tall case clock appraised at $2,200 sold for $4,300. Collectors and dealers want to buy low and sell high.

"The better they are at their job, the more you lose," said Staples.

A professional buyer wanted to buy a sword and scabbard for $30... the seller instead took it to auction - the global sale netted $2,000.

A reputable jewelry shop offered to buy several gold pieces for $1,600. The seller sold it on and made $6,800 - four times more than the original offer.

So what are the consistent high sellers?

"Militaria, guns and weaponry, fine jewelry, sterling silver, petroliana," said Staples.

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