Many people will, from time to time, receive a leaflet through their door advertising the services of those who have temporarily hired local premises in order to purchase gold, silver, jewellery and small antique items, writes Dr Peter Rixon, Associate and Auctioneer at our antiques auction rooms, The Octagon Salerooms, East Reach, Taunton.

The glossy promotional material can make tempting reading. But beware: the quoted purchase prices are often well below an item’s true market value.

Take the case of coins, for example. What return is being offered? ‘Six times face value’ for silver coins minted before 1947. If that sounds impressive pause to consider that all these coins contain real silver – those from before 1920 are over 90% silver – and you will soon realise this is hardly a generous gesture on the part of the buyer. A crown from this period (five shillings or 25p and therefore worth £1.50 on the basis of this offer) would have a scrap value of more than twice that figure and, if it was in good condition, an even higher value to a serious collector.

A minimum offer of £160 for a sovereign may seem appealing, but that is derisory. No full weight sovereign, regardless of how worn it is, will bring less than £250 in the current climate as each contains just under 8g of 22ct gold. Most will sell for more. At a recent sale at our salerooms in Taunton, a Queen Victoria sovereign (pictured) sold for £320.

The same could apply to a variety of items from wedding rings to medals. How can you ensure you receive the best price for your unwanted valuables?

The solution? Seek the free, impartial opinion of an established local auction house before parting with your possessions. Fair and friendly, they will value your items entirely without obligation and, if you decide to proceed, will sell for you rather than buying from you. That way they share your interest in obtaining the highest possible price for your antiques and collectables.

Please call The Octagon Salerooms on 01823 332525 for help and advice on valuing your valuables.