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What is New Old Stock?

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Sometimes you'll hear an antiques dealer refer to an item as "new old stock," or you might run across the term in an online auction description. But what does it really mean?

What Qualifies as New Old Stock?

Lots of things can qualify as new old stock, but what the term boils down to is stock produced many years ago that was never sold on the open market. It could have been stored in a retail shop or country store long out of business, warehoused in a factory boarded up decades ago, or housed in the garage of a distributor who's been retired since the 1960s.

To qualify as new old stock, the items are usually in the original packaging or boxes and sometimes have the original price tags in place (if found in an abandoned retail store). Most of all, they're "new" in terms of never having been sold in a retail environment as they were intended (or made into a finished product), but "old" because they are antiques or collectibles produced many years ago.

Some examples of new old stock as discovered by actual antiquers include:

  • A box of original 1960s no-feet Pez dispensers found in the attic of a former candy distributor's home.

  • A bevy of antique hats with original price tags found in a country store out of business since the Great Depression.

  • Packages of unused vintage Swarovski rhinestones found in a long-abandoned factory where costume jewelry was once produced.

Is There an Advantage to Buying New Old Stock?

New old stock items are usually in like new condition if not mint, so that's a definite plus for both the seller and buyer. Most antiques and collectibles fall short of mint condition so they're more valuable, in general, if they're genuinely old yet pristine.

There's also the novelty of knowing exactly where an item originated. It may not add value to the piece as provenance unless the person holding the stock prior to it entering the marketplace happened to be famous in some way, but does make it attractive to buyers nonetheless.

Are Items Ever Described as New Old Stock When They Shouldn't Be?

The short answer: yes. Sometimes items found in an estate or someone's home have been around for years and were never used. They're still in the original packaging or bearing the original price tag, and will be referred to as new old stock by a seller. Technically this isn't correct given that the item was sold to someone in the retail marketplace and is actually pre-owned or "used" whether or not the package was opened or the tag was removed.
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