I get quite a few emails asking questions about spinning wheels, and I enjoy them. Sometimes I can answer the questions, which is very satisfying.
There are a few questions I don’t enjoy quite so much, the ones that go something like this –
I have a such-and-such wheel. Can you please tell me its value?
No, I can’t. There are far too many variables.
First, I don’t know what condition it’s in, how many bobbins it has, whether there are any other extras. If there’s no photo I can’t be sure the sender has identified it correctly. And even a good photo or two doesn’t tell a viewer how well it works – only, with luck, that it looks as though it should work or that it probably won’t.
Second, often one can’t tell from the email address what country the sender is in. Gmail and Hotmail addresses, and some others, give no clues. Why does that matter? It’s vital: prices of spinning wheels vary dramatically from one country to another.
Here in New Zealand we have a relatively small population and a glut of wheels. For example a small, easy to carry wheel of a well-known make, like this Rappard Wee Peggy, if in excellent order with plenty of bobbins and other goodies, could perhaps fetch around NZ$80 here. In the US you might get three or four times that, and remember that $1 in NZ is only about three quarters the value of $1 in the US. I think Canada and the UK might be similar to the US, and Australia would be approaching them (I have no idea about other countries). We Kiwis don’t always appreciate our wonderful spinning wheels as we should!
Even if you take account of all these factors, everything depends on whether someone, or preferably several someones, happen to want this wheel on the day. That is a matter of pure chance.
The final and most important reason I politely decline to give a valuation is that I really don’t find money interesting. Not nearly as interesting as the wheels themselves, anyway. The value of a wheel to me is in its history, the ingenuity and skill of its maker, and the miles of lovely yarn it has spun and can still spin, giving joy to its spinner.
So I won’t venture to guess what a wheel might sell for. My only suggestions are:
Find a nearby spinning group and enquire there.
Ask on Ravelry, if you are a member – there are discussion groups for spinners of most places, and the wonderful Working Wheels group.
Look at sales of similar wheels in local auction websites. Those might be Ebay (anywhere but New Zealand), Trademe (NZ), Gumtree (UK and Australia), Craigslist (US) or Kijiji (Canada), and no doubt there are many others.
Look at the actual bids, not just the asking prices! Many sellers know nothing about what they are selling and imagine that any spinning wheel must be a valuable antique. This fake advertisement is only a slight exaggeration.