How to go about liquidating an old letterpress shop


I’ve recently come across an old letterpress shop in the back of a store in Ottawa, KS. The owner is looking to sell most of the items, which include just about everything but a press. He’s giving me first pick to buy, but there’s going to be a lot left, some of which is listed below.

Furniture and a giant tower, from 10 to 160 picas
Quoins and keys
Hamilton type cabinets—metal, all drawers intact
Metal type—great condition, and most of it above 12 pt
Wood type—Gothic, nearly complete sets
Brass Rules
Galley trays and cabinet
Set up of cabinets and racks from old newspaper shop

Everything is in really fantastic shape. I’m wanting to know a couple of things: How much is some of this stuff worth? How should I go about helping him sell it?

Basically, if you were me, what would you do? Any help would be greatly appreciated!


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Brianna, if I were you and were responsible for the disposition of anothers collection, I would first take as many pictures as possible and upload them all to flickr. Try to take pictures in an organized manner, focusing on one item or set of items at a time- The more you organize as you shoot, the less you’ll have to later.

I would then begin to tag items with the same tag: The “contact email” and “for sale” and “Letterpress”. Then label each item for what it is and name a price. People like prices. If you’re unsure what you think an item should be priced at, ask for an offer.

You also have to determine what this individual is going to pay you to sell this stuff; do you get some stuff for free? Do you benefit financially (so you’re a dealer of stuff at that point)?

If you’re inexperienced with assessing the value of such things, I think it is worth cautioning you that ebay is not really a good way to go about gauging prices; it’s an open market, but people often over-value and under-value things of this nature on it, asking for ridiculous inexplicable BIN’s and inflating pricing when trying to hook offers; and not knowing what they have sometimes when they start a bid at .99 cents.

I think it’s worthwhile to ask yourself (and the owner of this stuff) a good hard question: Do you want to see this stuff put to use by practically interested parties, or benefit financially and sell to the highest bidder?

If the latter, just list it on ebay.

If the former, take pictures, start a briarpress advert, and have fun meeting some more folks interested in letterpress ;-)