Dear Lee,

Declutter? Where can I sell? What’s it worth? How do I get it appraised? Why doesn’t anyone want my mother’s Hummels? My mail is filled with those questions. Kim decided we had to start thinking about why some collectibles lose favor.

I moved into my house over 50 years ago, added office space four times, have cabinets filled with “stuff” in the garage (most bought as props for our TV series), a storage room, and halls. Kim announced on the Fourth of July when the family was at my house that we are going to take all the auction catalogs to the garage. We have donated or sold leftover catalogs for years. So on the fifth of July, we spent six hours marching up and down stairs with piles of priced catalogs issued from the 1970s through 2016. We kept a few, and the rest were donated to local historical museums to use or sell. We hope our research books are still valuable, but at recent auctions, the last few lots were books that got no bids. Technology has changed everything about collecting. You can now buy antiques and collectibles every day of the week on the internet. Very few things are rare. The public library and the internet, like, are good sources of information.

To help our readers, I have compiled five rules to start decluttering (we used to say “selling”):

1. The harder you work, the more money you will make. That means pictures, phone calls, letters, and trips to offer your collection for sale are important.

2. Many historical societies and auction galleries have free appraisal days. If you are selling the contents of a house or a large collection, you might qualify for a visit by someone at the gallery to see what they can sell for you.

3. Big is good. Big and colorful is even better. Signed by a known artist or factory, is the best.

4. Silver, gold and jewelry have a measurable value in the metal and the stones. An important company name is a plus that makes costume and precious jewelry pricey. Be sure to use a reliable company to sell. Ask friends, especially collectors.

5. Paintings, art pottery, anything marked Tiffany or Georg Jensen, couture handbags, mint condition ʼ50s furniture are selling well.

I’m starting a systematic search to see what I tucked away i the hall and garage. I made a place to store things I want to get rid of soon. It’s a start.