How to Value Maritime & Nautical

Could the old compass your grandfather gave you be worth something? Are you curious about the old harpoon on your Uncle’s mantle? Do you want to know more about the engine room telegraph you picked up at a flea market?

Assortion of ship captain hats

Maritime and nautical antiques are a niche genre of the antiques and collectible market but nonetheless the interest in these items has persisted strongly throughout recent decades. Most popular in seaside regions such as the UK, the coastal Americas, and some Nordic countries, these objects possess a certain special quality of the otherworldliness of seafaring culture. The following guidelines will be able to assist you on your journey towards finding the value of your maritime and nautical antiques as soon as today.

What is maritime & nautical?

The category of maritime and nautical refers to any antique or collectible item associated with seafaring. It includes a broad variety of items such as mastheads, figureheads, compasses, telegraphs, ship models, pond yachts, yachting trophies, nautical instruments, mariner’s craftwork, photographs of classic ships and boats, and much more. Collectors love these items due to their connection with nautical heritage, as symbols of an international history spanning over thousands of years.


Just like any other antique or collectible, the condition of an item plays a pivotal role in how valuable your maritime and nautical item will be. The closer to like new an object is, the more value it will possess on the market so long as other favorable factors are at play. As the maritime and nautical category is so broad in its range of items, damage can look different depending on the use and nature of the object; however some general signs of a compromise in quality to look out for are cracked or discolored glass, dented, rusted or oxidized metal, warped wood, tears in fabric, missing or nonfunctional pieces, and so on.

Ship with masts

Age & rarity

As part of what makes the maritime and nautical category attractive to its collectors is the sense of historical heritage associated with these objects, age is often correlated positively correlated with value. An viking figurehead or 19th century compass will always be more sought after and thus valuable than something that may be in mint condition but only dates back to the last several decades. This is due to the rarity that such items possess; generally an item that is rare will attract a great deal more intrigue and fascination than something that is common and readily available, and thus a demand that exceeds supply will see the highest hammer prices at auction. 

Be realistic

It is important to manage expectations and be realistic when looking to find the value of your object. It is often portrayed on television shows related to antique dealing or pawning that people are willing to pay astronomical and inflated prices for nautical antiques in order to bring in views; however any serious collector or seller that has done their proper research knows such portrayals are inaccurate. But even while prices paid in real life may not be as high as they are on television, that is not to say your item doesn’t have the potential to be a once in a lifetime find.


As is the case with any genre of collectible items, it is crucial that one seeks the opinion of a professional appraiser. Even an amateur that has all the right tools and diligence is still a great deal prone to error when assessing the worth of an item, whereas an expert in the field will be able to use their years of training and experience to assist you in finding the most accurate estimated value as possible. Luckily such appraisers are readily available here at Value My Stuff to provide top notch valuation services, so that you can begin the journey of finding out more about your maritime and nautical antiques as soon as today!

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