QUESTION: I recently purchased a glass Blanke’s aerial globe baking powder bottle for a quarter. It has a screw on top. There are no chips. It might be World’s Fair related. I would appreciate any information you can provide. – LC, Alamogardo, NM, Email Question
ANSWER: Dick Sheaff’s “Fantastic Monumental World’s Fair Globes” appeared in the February 13, 2013, issue of the “Ephemera Journal.” The article described a globe designed to rival the French Eiffel Tower that was purposed for the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair:
“St. Louis businessman C. F. Blanke of the Blanke Coffee Company purposed to build a…huge globe…
READ THE FULL Post at: https://www.worthpoint.com/articles/blog-entry/rinker-on-collectibles-q-a
QUESTION: I have a few 5-inch black & white, battery, 110 volt powered televisions. Popular brands included Craig, Panasonic, and Sony. These 5-inch portables were popular promotional giveaways at timeshare and other presentations.
I received a Bentley 100c, made in Korea, at a timeshare promotion in the Poconos. The case measures 8-inches by 13-inches. Since these battery-operated televisions have old tech tuners and no inputs for convertors, they basically are good now only as night lights.
Is there a collector market for these or are they only recycling fodder? – RD, central Montgomery County, PA, Email Question
ANSWER: Portable televisions still are being made today. Most have 9-inch screens and are digitally driven. Collectors differentiate between portable televisions (too large to fit in a pocket), pocket televisions, and wearable televisions (often found in wristwatch form).
READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT: https://www.worthpoint.com/articles/blog-entry/rinker-on-collectibles-q-a
QUESTION: I have my great-grandmother’s Valmont Haviland china. She was born in 1866 and died in 1938. There are 12 dinner plates, salad plates, dessert plates, cups and saucers. In addition, I have two serving bowls and a platter. I am seeking a value estimate for estate purposes. Can you help? – DM, Darby, MT, Letter
ANSWER: First, value is contingent on the popularity of the pattern—the more popular the pattern, the greater the ability to find replacement pieces if one is broken. The pattern does not appear in my “Dinnerware of the 20th Century: The Top 500 Patterns,” published by Random House in 1997.
Second, value in any china service rests in the serving pieces. At a minimum, a service should have three platters, creamer, sugar, gravy boat, and two different size vegetable bowls, ideally one of which is covered.
Third, the phrase “my kids do not want grandma’s china” is the most common lament heard in the antiques and collectible trade today. This is especially true if the dinnerware is not dishwasher safe.
Finally, one cannot rely on the asking prices on www.replacements.com to value a service. Rather, they serve as an indicator as to the level of secondary market demand—the lower the price, the lower the demand.
A fair estate value for your set is around $100.00. My best advice is to use the service and create memories. Hopefully, this will create a desire among one of your heirs to keep the service in the family.
WorthPoint—Discover Your Hidden Wealth
If you are like me, you spend a lot of time staring at your closet looking for what to wear. Instead of staring for daily dress, it might be time to look for treasure.
In my work as an appraiser of memorabilia, I have found that valuable collectibles can be overlooked because their owners see the items every day and don’t see that the items have value. But when you look at some items with fresh eyes you may find riches.
Many of the categories of items discussed below deserve articles all their own. Based on your responses, I just may write them. In broad strokes, here are a few items you may find in your closet or while out treasure hunting.
Bill Graham is credited as starting the first concert T-shirt manufacturing company in 1968, when he co-founded Winterland Productions. A market of vintage rock and roll t-shirts has sprung up in the last decade. 1970s punk t-shirts can sell for hundreds, or thousands of dollars. Gen Xer’s musical heyday in the 1980s and 1990s supplied T-shirts, and a uniform, for music lovers. Live music was cheap and abundant. The merch tables were piled high with T-shirts for the tour. Look for Nirvana, The Clash, Black Flag, The Sex Pistols or on the other side of the radio dial, Michael Jackson, Bon Jovi (whose New Jersey T-shirt sold in 2017 for a whopping $10,000), Iron Maiden, Grateful Dead, and Metallica – just to name a few.
What better to wear with your band t-shirt than a pair of jeans? Levi Strauss & Co. was founded in 1853, but it wasn’t until the 1950s that jeans became a one-size-fits any subculture article of clothing. Recently, vintage denim has brought surprising auction results. In particular, Levi’s 501s are a favorite of collectors. These have undergone many changes over the years, so you will need to educate yourself on what to look for including hidden rivets, the signature red tab, pocket shape and stitching type. If you find the right pair it could fetch up to five figures at auction. Some modest results are in the $2,000-3,000 range.
SCARVES – FOR WEARING OR FOR PROMOTION
Scarves were once a staple of a woman’s well-appointed closet. Vera Neumann was an artist who found acclaim making brightly colored scarves popular with celebrities like Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly. The scarves are easily identified by the name “Vera” printed on the scarf, often beside an image of a ladybug. Her paintings and scarves have been exhibited around the world. Commonly found scarves of Neumann’s sell for between $10-$150.
Promotional scarves are also sought after. Elvis became known for throwing scarves out to his fans in the audience. Those scarves can fetch many thousands of dollars. Promotional scarves were also for sale at Presley’s concerts. These more modest novelty scarves still sell in the hundreds of dollars.
Be on the lookout for sport and political promotional scarves. My hometown Twins Baseball team won two World Series with the help of fans waving “Homer Hanky’s.” If you find a Minnesotan willing to part with theirs, it might fetch up to $100. Historical political scarves can sell for thousands at auction if they are in good condition. Many of these date to the mid-late 1800s, but a 1952 JFK senatorial campaign scarf sold for $3,250 at Heritage Auctions in 2015.
My grandfather was in the navy during World War II. He married my grandmother wearing his “Crackerjack” uniform. At auction, the most popular WWII military uniforms are bomber jackets and paratrooper uniforms. Painted bomber jackets are particularly coveted by collectors. Grandpa’s Crackerjack uniform might have fetched a couple of hundred dollars today.
Vintage wool letterman’s jackets with leather sleeves and letterman sweaters are a perennial style-maker. While they are less à la mode at the moment than they were several years ago, I suspect another revival where the jackets could again sell in the several hundred dollar range. Other jackets to look for: vintage motorcycle jackets, vintage featherdown ski vests, Pendleton patterned coats and sweater jackets.
Flour sack dresses from the 1930s are prized today because everyday clothes from this era were rarely saved, while fancy dresses might be. The depression also led people to reuse clothing as much as possible until the fabric was converted to rags or stuffing. If you find a flour sack dress, you might consider donating it to your local historical society.
Other dresses, such as, 1950s vintage party dresses, beaded flapper dresses, vintage wedding dresses, among others, may appeal to buyer’s depending on the style, color and the time of year. Young prom goers with an eye to vintage style may be the next wearer of your vintage gown.
Other accessories to look for are hats – like this vintage Dr. Pepper hat at the top of the article that sold for an astounding $999 in May of this year. And with all things beer, a vintage Pabst, Hamm’s Budweiser or Miller “trucker hat” or stocking cap could put a few bucks in your pocket.
VINTAGE “COWBOY” SHIRTS
With their pearl snaps and unique embroidery vintage Western wear shirts make a statement. Whether the wearer is out on the range or on the rockabilly dance floor, there is a market for the versatile dress it up or down shirt. Nathan Turk and Nudie Cohn both designed Western wear for Hollywood and Country Music stars. Look for drop and curved arrow details and gaberdine along sharkskin fabric. Nathan Turk may be easier to find, but if you uncover a Nudie Suit, you could easily sell it for few thousand dollars.
Of course, the names we all hunt for when digging through wardrobes are Chanel, Hermes, Schiaparelli, or Pucci. Those needles in the haystacks would be amazing finds in anyone’s closet, but take a second look at the mundane items in those closets, and new treasure may be discovered.
Megan Mahn Miller is an auctioneer and appraiser specializing in Rock ‘n Roll and Hollywood memorabilia, and other hard-to-value items. Her company, Mahn Miller Collective, Inc. can assist you with solving your personal property problems. Visit www.mahnmiller.com for more information.
WorthPoint—Discover Your Hidden Wealth
COLLECTIBLES (AND OTHER TREASURES) IN THE CLOSET
How many Steiff cats do you have in your meow mix? Steiff has been manufacturing cats as part of their product line since the late 1800’s, and these precious pets have always captured the hearts of collectors. They are adorable grouped together or as a focal point in a display, and look particularly charming posed with a vintage doll as his or her “companion.”
One of the most popular, and beloved, Steiff feline designs is the company’s sitting “Susi” cat. It is believed that Susi was named after a member of the Steiff family. This irresistible pattern appeared in the line from 1936 through 1978 overall – about 42 years. By today’s consumer goods lifecycle, that’s practically an eternity! Although Susi does not hold the record for the longest Steiff product line appearance, she comes close to Jocko the Monkey at over 50 years, Waldi the Dachshund with 47 years, and Molly the Puppy at 44 years. Although Susi’s basic form did not change over time, her exact detailing, construction, and general “personality” did – probably to keep up with the times and to control production costs. Here’s a look at four Susi cats spanning several decades. Check out how they changed – but also stayed the same – over their production timeline.
1. The first Susi walked in on little cats’ feet in 1936. Prewar, she was made from mohair in 14, 17, 22, and 28 cm through 1943. This petite treat was constructed from patched grey and white mohair and detailed with light black airbrushed striping, distinctive red claws, and a pink hand embroidered nose and mouth. In Pfeiffer’s 1892-1943 Sortiment reference book, she is described as “mohair plush, gray tabby, sitting, very pretty model, round shape.” It is very unusual to find subjective or “flattering” descriptions in the Sortiment books as they are almost always entirely factual and literal. In terms of ID, Steiff’s earliest Susi cats would have left the factory with a short trailing “f” button, a yellow ear tag, and a named chest tag. The picture of the two 1930’s era Susi cats at the top of the article is from Pfeiffer’s 1892-1943 Sortiment.
2. World War II created great shortages of fine materials, including mohair and felt. As a result, many of the company’s most popular designs, including Susi, were produced in artificial silk plush shortly after the factory reopened for toy making business in the late 1940’s. This substitute fabric was seen on popular line items from the mid-1930’s through the very early 1950’s – just before, and just after WWII. Artificial silk plush wears out and get dirty easily, so its initial shine and good looks fade almost immediately. It is not a very durable or attractive fabric in the long run. However, it was available for toy production, and to their credit, Steiff always found a way to get their job done – making fine playthings for children.
Here in the photo above, we have an example of one of these rare, early post war artificial silk plush Susi cats; she is from the author’s collection. This sweet Susi is 17 cm tall, sitting, and head jointed. Her muzzle, front feet, and chest area are made from white artificial silk plush, while her body, head, and tail are made from grey artificial silk plush. The grey areas are hand airbrushed with black stripes. Her face comes to life with back painted green and black slit pupil glass eyes and a pink embroidered nose and mouth. Her clear monofilament whiskers and her red claws have been lost to time. You can feel the squeaker in her belly, but it is not working now. Her IDs include the somewhat rare “STEIFF in all capital letters” button. This button appeared approximately in the 1947 through 1952 timeframe, aligning with her actual production time. This Susi would have also had a yellow eartag when she was younger, but probably not a chest tag, as additional Steiff IDs. Artificial silk plush Susi was produced in 14, 17, and 22 cm from 1948 to 1949 only.
3. Starting in the early 1950’s, Susi was again produced in mohair. Her design at the time remained quite similar to the pattern launched in 1936, including her patched style mohair and continuous black striping. This 14 cm example below from c. 1950 shows off all of these fine features. She is from the author’s collection. In terms of IDs, these early post war mohair Susi cats would most likely have had a yellow ear tag, one of several early post war buttons – including a short trailing f button, a blank button, or a “STEIFF in all capital letters” button – a linen or ribbon “made in the US Zone” tag sewn into an arm or leg seam, and sometimes a named chest tag.
4. A handful of years later, starting in the mid-1950’s, Steiff updated its Susi pattern once again. These cats were now entirely made from one color of mohair – white – and their stripes minimized and less continuous than in the past. As you can see in the example below, which is from the author’s collection, that their faces were also simplified and had a more “contemporary” look to them. This pattern appeared in in 10, 12, 14, 17 and 22 cm through 1978. These Susi cats had raised script or lentil style buttons, yellow ear tags, and named chest tags as their Steiff IDs.
As always, something is worth what someone will pay for it. Steiff’s charming pre-1980 era cats are always super scores for both vintage Steiff and doll collectors worldwide. And, ironically, the smaller the cat, the bigger the sales price it seems able to generate! But condition also plays a huge role in valuing toy items like these, and can add or subtract hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars from important and rare examples. Given Steiff Susi cats are in clean, very good to excellent condition, with minimal playwear, and at least one form of ID, they may value as follows:
WorthPoint—Discover Your Hidden Wealth
All About Steiff’s Susi Cats
QUESTION: While visiting Renninger’s Market in Adamstown, Pennsylvania, I encountered a dealer selling two paintings by Antonio Romano. He is asking $350.00 each. Romano used the back of old framed prints and photographs as his canvas and returned his finished work to the period frame.
The first is a side-profile, bust portrait of an Indian. The second is an “early” American map with a powder horn attached. The seller knew Romano and considered him a friend. I have several questions: (1) is $350.00 a fair price, (2) should I buy one or both if I decide to buy, and (3) what is your prediction about the long-term value of Romano’s work? – BN, Yellow House, PA, Email Question
ANSWER: Until I received your email, I had never heard of Antonio Romano, proof once again that one cannot know everything. An internet search provided the following information about Romano.
$350.00 is a “high” price, especially because the seller has a high perceived value based upon his friendship with Romano. Try some bargaining. In the end, the “best” price is one that pleases the seller and buyer.
I do not see any long-term investment opportunity in Romano’s work. Like so many artists of his type, he is a passing fancy. His art may be include in the collections of some minor museums but most certainly not the MET in New York.
QUESTION: I recently purchased a plaster millinery mannequin head of a young woman. The bottom has a paper label that reads: “Art Original by PACINI SCULPTURETTE.” There is a map of Italy in a vertical box separating “by” and “PACINI.” There is paint loss at the bottom of the neck.
I cannot find anything about Pacini in terms of age or value. Can you help? – W & T M, Grand Rapids, MI, Email Question.
ANSWER: First, you do not have a millinery mannequin, albeit it could be put to that use if a person so desired. You have a 1950s decorative sculpture that was meant to be displayed as a work of art. This sculpture is in the tradition of 1950s female bust portraits of women, many of which were females of African, Asian, or Polynesian descent. The goal was a statuette in the image of the “ideal” woman.
QUESTION: I recently purchased two gargoyles at a local flea market for $20.00 each. The Chinese-style dogs are made of white plaster and painted blue. One weighs 14 pounds and the other 13 pounds. I do not know anything about them. – BC, West Plains, MO, Email Question
ANSWER: A gargoyle is a grotesque carved animal or human figure projecting from the gutter of a building. It is used as a spout to allow rain water to run off a roof and clear the side wall. You do not own a pair of gargoyles.
You do own a pair of reproduction Chinese Foo Dogs designed to be used as garden, gate, or porch ornaments. The value of the examples you purchased is purely decorative. They have no collectible value nor will they in the long term.
You paid a fair price. These Foo Dogs would retail in a garden shop or Big Box store between $35.00 and $50.00 each.
QUESTION: While cleaning out a house, a friend found a set of the 12 folios that comprise an illustrated history of Reading, Pennsylvania. The folios were published by H. R. Page & Co. in 1891. Each part consists of 20 pages featuring pictures of buildings with text. In 1897, the parts were consolidated into a single volume.
I paid $100.00 for the set. The local historical society has a copy of the bound volume. I have not encountered hard bound or loose copies of the folios in my search for the title. What are your thoughts? – JY, Reading, PA, Email Question
ANSWER: The secondary market for period regional histories is soft, even when copies are scarce. There are two primary reasons. First, many of these volumes have been reprinted.
WorthPoint—Discover Your Hidden Wealth
Will Seippel: This is a presentation that I gave at our last treasure hunt down in Fort Lauderdale trying to show some of the different sides of WorthPoint and some of the things that we’ve done over the years.
A little bit about who I am. A lot of people don’t know that I started life as an athlete. I was going to go and play sports. I was a true truant. I didn’t show up a whole lot for school, but I did show up for sports. I got hit by a drunk driver in my senior year, so I ended up having to change my focus in life and start going to school.
I actually became a math nerd and was able to play some less violent sports than football and wrestling in college. Most of the people at WorthPoint, Danna is going to laugh when I say we’re nerds. We have a very high math and computer science background. I think that’s one of the things that makes WorthPoint really different, besides understanding the world of antiques.
I went out in the fortune world and was a C level executive at many very large companies that are household names. Decided at 50 I was going to quit all that, and I became an eBay seller. Really took the background I had from growing up in rural northwest Virginia and buying and selling a lot of Civil War relics that we would find in the ground and learning about history and turning it into a career later and become a power seller on eBay.
My eBay handle is Wills1N4. I think I have somewhere around 16,000 feedback on eBay, and I’ve sold about a million dollars on eBay over the years. It’s not the only place I sell, but it’s the primary place I sell. I don’t sell anywhere else online.
I am the father of five great kids, and I have four dogs. One of them is coming in the mail in another week. That’s exciting!
WorthPoint was created out of need. When I started selling on eBay about 10 or 15 years ago, I promise everybody I did not drop out of the womb and know everything about everything about antiques, and I still don’t know everything about antiques. I still make mistakes occasionally and invite people to help me edit my eBay listings, because I sell about anything. WorthPoint, I needed a better place to do research for what I was selling on eBay. I think research is critical to us getting our listings right and, for a lot of reasons, getting more money.
When I started to do my research, occasionally I’d get a reminder from eBay that something wasn’t listed correctly. Civil War buttons is a tough one. It would take so long to go out on Google, which I think was a better tool than it is today, and try to find what I need out on the internet browsers. It was like, why can’t somebody save all this stuff in one place and create databases for us to do our research on? That was really the beginning of WorthPoint.
Now we have over a billion item images on WorthPoint, and over half a billion items, auction records. WorthPoint gets better every day with the great people that we have here. I was showing Danna today that it’s shocking to believe that WorthPoint is in the top 1,000 US trafficking websites. If you look at Quantcast, we’re actually 803 today. A lot of people use it, and it’s a trusted destination. We partner to auction houses around the world, especially eBay, who’s committed to making research in the market more transparent. eBay has a lot of the data here on WorthPoint. You can actually in some cases go back and find things that sold 15 years ago on eBay.
We have over 13,000 paid members today, and we’re quickly becoming, and it’s a trademark that we’ve registered, we’re becoming the internet of stuff. Eventually you’ll be able to track who owned things before on WorthPoint and find out their history that way. That’s something we’re actively working on, and some auction houses have talked to us about, to cut down on fraud.
There’s a lot of things to do as a seller in everyday steps. I go around the country doing a lot of presentations on how to become a more effective seller. Again, last year I sold part-time, because I don’t do this full-time. I run WorthPoint full-time. I sold about $150,000-$200,000 part-time.
There’s a lot to know, and while you can do it casually, people need to understand that this is a job like any other job. It involves work, which is a four letter word. For me, it’s fun, and a lot of fun, because I really like doing the work that I do as a seller.
There’s different facets to this, and we’re only going to go into pricing your merchandise today. I look at building a business, sourcing your items. Sourcing I thought would be the hardest part, but I don’t think it is. Pricing your merchandise, selling, customer service, and reinvesting in your business. These are all steps that we need to take as sellers. I get a lot of questions about sourcing.
Where do I find things? I have to laugh. I got a text message this morning for the fourth time asking me to come to somebody’s house on Friday, and for the fourth time I told them we’re in Memphis doing a treasure hunt. If you can join us in Memphis, we’re going to have a lot of fun. We’re even going to go down to the Grand Ole Opry coming up this weekend. Pricing your merchandise, to me, is critical to getting this whole equation right. There’s really not a science to it. It involves a lot of intuition, and WorthPoint is certainly a good starting point.
You look at a carpenter, and you don’t come to somebody’s house to do work without a toolkit. If you do, you certainly won’t get very far. A seller needs to have a toolkit on how to do pricing. Some of these things are free. Some of them you build up relationships in your business, and some of them are certainly a learning process. You’re not always going to make money on everything, because it is a learning process.
The first one I think is the most important, help lines to associates. There’s people that I have on my call list that I don’t call too often, so I don’t wear out my welcome, but I’ll call them and try to get help on identifying and pricing something.
There’s a piece I was talking to Danna about a little bit that I’m pretty excited about that we came by over the weekend, which is a sketch done in 1962 by Alan Shepard, the astronaut, on designing the orbit capsules and looking ahead and predicting in 1969 that man was going to be on the moon. This was back, he was predicting this in 1962 and doing the drawings. I have a help line, an auction associate, on how do I price that. It was found in a scrapbook, and he signed them. These are things I don’t know.
Danna was with me at Scott’s Flea Market, and we found a really nice Japanese print. I also don’t read Japanese, so my help line was my daughter, who does read Japanese, and getting her to read it. The help lines are really critical for people that know a lot more about you in a domain or subject, and who you can pick and call. Now you can send pictures and just get help right there. I won’t use the words my daughter used to help me understand who the Japanese print-maker was, but it was a good printmaker, and it was pretty fun.
The next thing to do that I use a lot, while WorthPoint is my primary place for shopping or getting price data on the web, I do use other sites, and I bookmark them on my computer, so I can find them real often. There are sites. One that quickly comes to my mind is when you’re looking at pocket watches, the watches are generally serial numbers that were done in order, and you can tell by what year and a lot about the watch by the number. I’ll go to different websites that have the pocket watch serial numbers in them and get a lot of information right off those websites. It’s really good information.
I also get information on my listings from different people. I learned something last night that I didn’t know about a ship’s telegraph, which is the speed control that the operator uses, about a World War II ship’s telegraph. I invite my people that come to my store to give me feedback about my listings. Do I have it all right? That’s really important. Sometimes they can help me increase the value, and sometimes it’s bad news, and I missed something and the value comes down. Recently I even got fooled by a Coca-Cola tray with Johnny Weissmuller.
Paid databases such as WorthPoint, I can’t stress enough that I think we’re the best value in the industry. For $19.95 a month, or $200 a year, you get access to our price database. We have some other databases that sell quite well. One is called MAPS, that has marks, autographs, patterns, and symbols. WorthPoint, by far, is the best price database out there. You can compare to anyone you want, and it’s by far the best value for the money. We also have a library, but I know a lot of dealers that build their own libraries at home with books. We have over 1,000 titles online in our library that you can rent by the year. It has good browsing tools.
I think all these things are just real important. eBay has, in their seller hub, great web stat services that come along with different levels of membership. I’m an anchor store on eBay, so I know I have all that. I don’t know if everybody does. Again, that’s another good piece of my toolkit, to look at how much traffic I’m getting on an item and what my web stats are in regards to it.
I think these are just really important things that we have to start making up how do we make our mind about how we want to price things. What tools you need really depends on the width of your focus. I know there’s people that deal in pocket watches that are never going to need any other databases, because I guess they know everything they can know about pocket watches. It’s great if your niche is that narrow. I think it’s hard to be that narrow and always be a successful seller. Danna and I were joking about we sell anything. If it’s legal, and I can make money on it, I’ll sell it. I’ve sold everything from parts to paintings. If you go to my website, you’ll see that there’s quite a bit on there in my eBay store, from $5 to $20,000. ( Wills1N4 )
Another thing is how much do you value your time? I can’t stress this enough. I think the biggest boat anchor a lot of times to people being successful as sellers is the use of their time, not realizing or not stressing enough that this is a job. You don’t let people interrupt you. You go to work. You do your work. It’s flexible, because you can do it at home, but you need to treat it as a job. When you’re listing a $15 item, and you’re doing an hour’s worth of research, you’re working for less than $15 an hour, because you’re going to have success fees on selling it. You’re going to have all the packing and shipping time. You’ve got your listing time. You’ve got your research time.
You really have to try to make yourself efficient, which to me gets back to why do I love WorthPoint? Because I can go on and I can do my research on my item and get the bases for my listing right out of all the research other people have done on researching that item. I can see if things are going up and down over time, whether I care about selling it quickly or not. The value of your time, I just stress is really important. Think about that when you do your research.
You also get into what are you trying to accomplish with the item? Am I trying to find the top person in the world that’s trying to buy this item and trying to get my top dollar about it, or am I quickly trying to move it? I do a lot of wholesaling, for example. While I’ll often list things at retail, I’ll wholesale them out if I don’t think that they’re a good long-term investment to hold.
You can go to my site and see that I have a poster of the Red Baron from World War I, and I’m not in a hurry to sell that. My goal on that item, in trying to accomplish my item, I have it priced probably at the top end, and I’m not discounting it. On the other hand, if I have a piece of Weller pottery that’s common and is going down, I’m in a hurry to sell it. It’s also breakable, and one of my dogs my break it, because I don’t always put my inventory away. I think you have to think about what are you trying to accomplish in the whole grand scheme of things.
When we used to own Go Antiques, which we did for a period of time, one of my most frustrating things about trying to manage dealers–and Go Antiques we just acquired by happenstance, because it came with other assets we were acquiring–dealers, what I could see, they didn’t care enough about getting it right when they were listing it in their store.
I really do, and 99.9% of my listings I think are pretty accurate, are very accurate. There’s always that .1% that you’re trying to learn, but I want my shoppers to come to my store, and I want to have credibility. I think getting credibility on the items you sell is important, and that’s why I like eBay’s you can send it back policy. It makes people feel even more secure, and they should when they come to my store. Getting credibility as a seller is going to help you get better prices.
I laugh and say, getting it right keeps you in business. People trust you, and there’s so much vagary in this business, I think, getting the research accurate and getting things up on the site, people will see that generally with my listings there’s a lot of information in there, because I think if we’re just trying to sell a golf sweater that 99 other people have it’s not as important.
If you’re trying to sell something and getting the facts in there about why the item is significant or the history of it, it takes ambiguity and lack of clarity out of there and makes people feel very good. When you’re doing your research, and you can do it quickly, you may be surprised what you can find. I certainly was with my infamous turkey call home and never knew it would be worth $27,000, but it paid to do my research. The only place I found it was on WorthPoint.
That gets into our next slide. We are the leading toolkit. We’ve got a huge amount of people using it. We have all kinds of neat things in regards to partners. I was just out with Steve Sipe at Global Authentications in California last week going through some autograph collections that I’m going to be writing up some stories about in three different autograph collections that I purchased over the last couple months, or had a chance to purchase, because one I turned down. A lot of the resources I found for all this was on WorthPoint, and I’m really not an autograph expert, by any stretch of the definition, but I do know that you need to do your homework.
Our Marks Patterns & Symbols is a great place to look up marks. You can describe the mark and type it in and decide if you want pottery, metals, costume jewelry, and pick the vernacular of the area you want to look in. Just describe it, hit click, and we’ll bring you up all kinds of images, and it’s connected to our price database. If you find that mark you want, and you look it up, you can go right over to the Worthopedia and look at prices. It’s really pretty cool. We are the only person out there that do all this, and we are the only person to have close to a billion images on a website.
Some case studies of what we’ve help people do, or people have done on WorthPoint, or what they’re doing out in the marketplace, I think is really interesting. I laugh with this first one.
Some people like this painting, and some people don’t. It’s called A Sense of Smell. This was a Rembrandt that was recently found under a ping-pong table. I think it was in New Jersey, but I may have that wrong. The owner had died, and her sons had taken what they thought was the better stuff of the estate and packed it away and got to it a couple years later. The two brothers really didn’t like the painting, and they sent it out to an auction house that was hopefully knowledgeable about what they were selling. Even though it turned out they weren’t, and nobody liked it, including the auction house, they promoted the auction well.
Some people saw it online. The estimate from the auction house was $500, but the painting went for $1 million. At least it got good visibility, and people saw it, so knowledgeable people could bid on this. I say as a picker, the best stuff is still in people’s houses, and that’s where you want to get is into people’s houses to try to buy. Here’s a good case of a Rembrandt that was stored under a ping-pong table that was a known painting that had been missing for years from collectors trying to find it. They finally did. The auctioneer had to ask later about why it went for a million dollars, and somebody told him.
This is some paper money that I still haven’t gotten around, after a month, to listing that I found in a box. I still haven’t figured out how it got into the foyer of my house, but it was mailed to me 11 years ago in some stuff I had bought. For those of you that know me, I have a huge inventory. I’ve looked all over the web for this money. I’ve asked experts. I’ve asked Harry Rinker, and nobody knows what this play money is, but play money is quite collectible. In some cases, I believe, they even slab it now and grade it like real money. So there’s good money in play money.
These are notes that I found in this box that I must have dumped in the foyer when I was over at the warehouse and just brought one box back with me. It’s from the Treasarian of Outer Space. I’m guessing it went with a game set, but I’ve looked all over the internet, and I can’t find it. Experts don’t know it. I have no clue what to sell it for, and I’m probably just going to put it out in an eBay auction and start it at a low price, and see if the marketplace can tell me. I have 25 of them. They’re different values from different planets. I’m assuming they’re from the 1950’s. If anybody sees this when we publish this out on the web, please tell me. It’s something I have no clue how to price.
I did a combination of those two things with my turkey call. This is what I picked up on an estate call here in Atlanta with a fill my car deal. I paid the people $10,000 to take what I wanted out of the house and fill my car. This turkey call brought $27,000 on eBay. Now, I do have to say that I knew it was an expensive item when I went to list it. I did not know it when I bought it. I just liked the carving on it. This is not exactly the one I sold. Mine had different carving, but it was very similar, and it was signed, just like this one.
What was unique about these is only about a dozen of them are known. They’re carved by the person that patented the box call, which is a type of call that you hold in your hand and you rub the paddle on top back and forth over the box below it. It will squawk like a turkey. There’s about a dozen of these known. When I got it, I looked it up on WorthPoint and found it, because it’s called a Gibson Turkey Call, and Mr. Gibson signed it. That’s when I got an inkling. The last one that had sold was for $15,000. I started this in an $0.99 auction on eBay, and the last-minute sniper bid came in at $27,510, I believe that was the number.
So, I started an auction. I know that turkey hunters are very competitive. There’s some areas on eBay I think are better auctioning than others, that are more competitive, and people are sure to see things. While I don’t do many $0.99 auctions anymore, I generally start them at about 25% of what I think something may be worth, but I’m a huge fan of auctioning in areas that I think are well vetted and people look at a lot, and where auctions are going to be competitive. Turkey hunters are certainly competitive. That may be an understatement. That’s an example of combining the research with finding something only I could find on WorthPoint that the prior one had sold on eBay many years before, and it was scare, and then using auctioning to bring it up to the correct market value.
A WorthPoint partner, Steve Sipe (Global Authentics) I think is the most flexible in the autograph industry for how he does his pricing. As a WorthPoint member, you can send a picture to Steve of your autograph. I believe this is still free for WorthPoint members, but certainly it’s very inexpensive. I think it’s $10 if you’re not.
Steve will give you an opinion on whether you should follow up with sending it in, in regards to whether he thinks it has the potential of being real or not. It was funny. When I was out with Steve last week, some guy was sending in about his hundredth image of an autograph. The poor guy, I don’t know where he’s shopping or buying them, but they’re not right. Steve is very good about getting back to people. His pricing is very real. I have about 100 items up now on eBay that he’s done for me. I tend to send things in groups where I can get a discount even further.
I would highly recommend you guys, for an autograph, check Steve out. (Global Authentics) It adds to the credibility of what you have for sale, and you can take it from $2,000, I think it’s George Washington, to $20,000, I know it’s George Washington. You can sell with much more credibility, and you don’t have to worry about what you’re saying or about things coming back. Again, it goes to what I’m saying. Get rid of the nebulousness of your listings. Do I know versus I think, and you’ll be surprised how much better you do.
WorthPoint is going to probably reinitialize a group of experts in the company whose services we recommend you use for estimates or for appraising. We’re not going to do an ask a Worthologist like we used to, but have a related service with experts that we think are good to go to. Here’s an example where we fielded the question with knowledge of people that we had on staff when I was on news at NBC in Denver talking about what people could find and be worth money.
A lady emailed me about a TakanoriOguisu. She didn’t know who this painting was by. She had pulled it out of the trash in Boulder, and there’s a video on WorthPoint about this. She got this out of the trash several years before we were on television. She was using this painting in her closet to prop up school papers for her daughter, and she had nearly thrown this painting out several times, because she hated the colors. Thank God she didn’t.
She sent me a photo, which I shared with one of the people on staff here, and he recognized it right away as a TakanoriOguisu impressionist painting, with a stretcher in the back of the canvas. I tell people on paintings the back is usually more important than the front. Looking at the stretcher and the canvas, we believed it was real, and Soethby’s authenticated it. She sold it at Soethby’s for $100,000. Just from something she had pulled out of the trash. So, the stuff is out there. People are finding more of it every day, and that’s one of the things, that and learning make our industry so exciting. WorthPoint has a lot of resources it can throw at things.
This is an example of the help line that I used with my daughter, in regards to the Hiroshige print. I think it’s a second period, but I haven’t bothered to do further research yet. I wouldn’t know a Hiroshige print from a Burger King print. My daughter helped me at least decipher it right away. She knew the print anyway. I bought it for $25, and even if it’s a second-generation print, it’s $100-$400, I guess. Again, it’s a good example of being able to use the help line, as I said. In this case, I’m giving her the print to hang in her room, so the value doesn’t really ultimately matter, but she enjoys it, and I know I got a good deal. It’s a win-win for everybody.
One of the things that I love to do when I get down to research, and for those of you that know or don’t know, I’m about to launch a new website called History In Photos, which I’ve been talking about for a little while, where we sell very high end prints of old black and white glass negatives. I’ve been collecting these for about 15 years. This is one I actually purchased on eBay that I liked because it pertained to the Civil War.
The seller had no clue about where this photo was taken. One of the neat things you can do with items is blow them up and do your research better. That’s what I did with this photo, because it had so much clarity. Then we’ll go and restore it anyway and take all the white dots that you may see on the picture on the right out and make it much sharper.
By zooming in on the high resolution of this photo, which glass slides usually are, I was able to get the name off the side of the warehouse that’s behind the statue and do a Google search on that business.
I found that business back in Chelsea, Massachusetts in the late 1800’s. All of a sudden, I can put some provenance on this image and know where it’s from and what it was about. That makes it much more interesting to people. Again, this is a Civil War monument. We’ll probably sell about 100 images of it and then retire it. Chelsea, Massachusetts. There’s my little moniker now on the bottom of the screen, HIP, History In Photos.
By doing a lot of research, and this really didn’t take me that long, I can increase the value of what I’m selling, which I think is just so critical. When I started in this business, I didn’t believe it. I thought it was all about the economic strict value of something. After so many years in the business, I learned the story and the provenance of the item is just as important as anything when you go to sell it.
So, the moral of my story is, and some stalker of my webstore from New England told me they’ve noticed I don’t compete on price. I don’t. If I’m in a hurry to move something, I’m more motivated on price. If I need some money to pay my mortgage that week, I’m more motivated about price. Don’t set you up your store to compete on price. It’s a losing proposition. It devalues you completely.
The second moral, when I’m shopping, I look for what I think is different. What is different about this item I’m going to sell? Why is it different? Why should I be proud to have it my store as something different? Document why it’s different. It’s very critical. People like to buy things that are unique. I get so many compliments about stocking my store, and I have about 7,000 items in my store that are for sale, which is the tip of my iceberg. God knows, I probably don’t need to buy any more for my lifetime, and I could keep stocking new items.
Also, value your time. Your time is money. You are important. You’re important as a seller. If you don’t value your time, nobody is going to value your time. I like that noise on my phone. I just got money in eBay. Value your time. Think about how you do everything efficiently. Shipping is even set up efficiently for me. I have an inventory of boxes and packing material from our good friends at Bubblefast, so I can pack things very quickly.
Present a good image in your store. People laugh, because in my store, if you look at my photos, my thumb is my trademark in my photos. I should register it as a registered mark of Will, but I do take a lot of photos. I take them with an SLR camera, and if my thumb is over something in one photo, it’s not in another. You get really good images in my store. I get complimented on that.
The thing I can’t stress enough. There are obnoxious buyers out there, but keep in mind they’re a passionate group, and generally they want to follow their passion and buy something. I don’t let them drive my schedule. I have to go home and check an item tonight. I just got home from a week of travel, and I have a buyer that really wants to buy something, and she had sent me about 20 emails in a span of three days. I had to tell her to relax.
I’ll check on it for here when I get home. It’s not going to go anywhere. Don’t let her drive you to insanity. In this case, manage her and make sure you have fun, and make sure she has fun and ultimately gets what she wants, and everybody has fun. We’re in a lifestyle business. Still, like me, I need to make money, but I’m going to make sure it doesn’t stop me from having fun and change it so I hate what I’m doing. I used to do that from 9-5, and I quit.
That’s all the presentation I have. If you want to follow up with any questions, that would be great. I can’t stress enough, this should be fun, and it’s very manageable. I’ve sent five kids through college on money I’ve made off of eBay, besides paying my bills.
Danna: Thank you Will for sharing this great information with us. You can visit Will’s eBay store at: Wills1N4
FYI: Below is the video replay from the webinar presentation.
NOTE: if you would like to do a webinar with me and share your knowledge about selling on eBay: CONTACT ME with your information.
Researching items to sell on eBay is one of the most important “beginning” parts of listing items. Worthpoint helps speed up the research process.
Not only the identification but the value. Determining the current market value can be challenging.
Here is a copy of the webinar I presented sharing ways I use Worthpoint to research. I hope you will find it most valuable and informative.
Enjoy a free trial! One week of 7 look-ups!
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The identification of items will help you to list faster. Which will help you to sell items faster. Understanding the price of what items have sold for helps you create better listings in more ways than one.
First off, Worthpoint allows us to copy the words used in other listings. Next you can past them into your current eBay listing. It seems with each search on Worthpoint I learn about more keywords that will help get more eyes looking at my items.
Need some assistance? Feel free to contact me with your questions. I may be able to help you seek out the answers you need to identify that hard to find item.
Start with a few keywords. Don’t use too many at once. You can always add more or less as you go along.
Trying out different combinations will help narrow down to the perfect search. Adjust the page view to show 100 photos. This will make it easier to scan the page faster each time.
Worthpoint is the perfect solution for researching everything Collectible and all types of Antiques. The site is growing their data base every day. Adding more and more items. Pulling in data from eBay and other auction houses. This system will help us all become better eBay sellers.
No matter what items you might be selling, as the reseller of products it is your job to know exactly what you are putting up on the eBay auction block or up for a “buy it now” option. Knowing that you have a genuine product helps instill confidence in the buyer and helps you establish a trustworthy reputation as a seller on eBay: This means a bigger profit margin for you and far fewer returns due to customer dissatisfaction. Worthpoint.com is a resource founded in 2007 by Will Seippel that eBay sellers can use as an effort to identify the products or items they intend to resell. In fact, it’s a tool that empowers the seller with the ability to provide accurate descriptions of what they are selling as well.
Imagine, for example, you have a collection of carnival glassware you want to resell. First, you need to figure out what the value of the items are: Doing so allows you to provide fair pricing and to receive equally fair compensation. Worthpoint provides you with a “Value It” tool where you can find out what types of carnival glass you have, the estimated value of the items, and information on the dating of the glasswares’ production.
You’ll also have the ability to explore the styles of glass produced through different time periods as well as the pieces generating the highest and lowest values. The Worthopedia™ tool is one where you, as an eBay reseller, get instant access to over 350 million product prices,
all of which are derived from as many as 350 quality valuation sources.
To figure out the value of the glassware when using the Worthopedia™ Guide, you will see some input boxes where you provide some information about the items in question. You’ll need to enter a search term or keywords associated with the item you are valuing, and you’ll want to be as specific as possible. For example, to discover if you have a carnival glass fruit bowl, you’ll have an easier time finding the product you are looking for if you specify the product’s features in your query.
Instead of using the term “carnival glass bowl,” you’ll get better results if you enter a term like “blue carnival glass fruit bowl.” After entering the search query, you choose “Price Guide” as your search type, and then choose the appropriate category associated with the glassware (for the purposes of this imagined scenario, you will choose the category of “glass.” )
Once you conduct the initial search you will see listings of products that have sold all over the world matching your query. Listings cover several years of sales (in fact, some results will go back as far as 15 years). The Worthopedia™ Price guide allows you to filter the search by price so you can view the values from high to low or vice versa: An excellent option when you want to know the items that draw the highest value. The “Best Match” filter narrows down the search to whatever descriptions closely fit your keyword search. Each listing presents you with full colored photos and a brief product description for ease of item comparison. There are over 1.2 billion images you can use for product comparisons, and more items are uploaded and added to the Worthpoint database on a regular basis. As the other sources Worthpoint gets its valuation information from, like auction house databases, continue to make successful sales, more product information becomes available.
The product search tools include the ability to narrow your search request by title only, image only, price range, and the location where the product was sold. Being able to define location is excellent, especially if you only sell in one part of the world and refrain from international selling options.
With the valuation tool, you can also search for product marks, autographs, symbols, or other key features that will help you, not only identify if you have a genuine piece, but it will allow you to provide a detailed seller description: This makes you appear knowledgeable about the products you are selling. Knowing your product’s details also makes the buyer more interested in the product as you provide key information about the product’s authenticity, and, as mentioned earlier, the trust between you and the buyer is more easily established.
Worthpoint gives members access to a digital library containing books related to all of the products the site allows value searches for, and these books are made digitally accessible. You can study the history of the items you specialize in selling and you never have to leave home to explore the information related to the products you sell.
When available, even current classified listings related to the products of interest and educational articles are something an eBay seller like yourself can access as a Worthpoint member: Giving you the ability to get a good jump on the good deals that you find. The classifieds portion of the site is specifically for members only and allows for members to offer what they have to other members using Worthpoint research tools.
As an eBay reseller to pass up on the option to use Worthpoint as a tool to add to your reseller-prep arsenal can prove fatal to your success as a seller. According to Worthpoint.com, as every three seconds passes by, another person is conducting research on the value of items they either own or want to sell. The simplicity of searches is definitely bound to make Worthpoint appealing, particularly to the person who is new to the practice of selling items on eBay. This resource tool will help you enhance not only the item description your working on, but it will give you ideas on important keywords you may of missed to add to the listing. With every successful sale, you’ll begin to understand the true power of knowing your product and developing that ever so vital trust bond with those you choose to buy from you: It is a delicate relationship indeed, one that requires you put forth the extra effort to research the items you are selling. Worthpoint makes it enjoyable. I find it very rewarding to be able to identify the awesome treasures that I come across. Thanks to Worthpoint I can now get the job done faster!
The research process actually begins before buying an item to sell on eBay. Research is very important for being successful on eBay.
One way to research but is very limited, is to use eBay’s completed listing source. To find this simply visit any eBay page. The search bar can be seen at the top of the page. Notice the word “advanced” located to the right of the eBay search bar. Click advanced and now you can search for completed and sold listings.
The type of tools I use for my eBay research depends on the item. For Antique, art and/or collectible type items I will mostly use Worthpoint. For all other types of items from the new to the old I will use Terapeak.
However, whenever I look something up on Worthpoint I will double check it on Terapeak since I subscribe to both. Both of these sites I feel are a valuable source for my business.
This is especially true for the consignment seller or the owner of a local thrift/antique shop. Combining the power of Terapeak and Worthpoint, you will have all the tools you need to succeed!
Terapeak has a few pricing options.
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Worthpoint has three price plans. Each with unique options.
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REPLAY from the Live Webinar on January 22, 2017:
FYI Link to Elena’s website that was mentioned during the webinar : http://elenasgifts.com/
I welcome questions!
Just fill out the form at: [button color=”juicy_pink” size=”normal” type=”3d” target=”_blank” link=”https://powersellingmom.com/contact-ebay-power-seller-danna-crawford/”]CONTACT DANNA[/button]
Check the EVENTS page for future webinars and workshops!
***NOTE:*** Click to learn more about my eBay Consignment business and how I can help you turn your treasures into cash!
Throughout this particular eBay tutorial series, I’ve been sharing the in-depth Terapeak & eBay research being conducted on consignment items brought to me by my traveling friend, Anne.
I’m showing you my step-by-step process for a couple reasons:
I saved the
toughest best research item till last!
The final interesting item I’m researching is a lovely “chunk of glass”, imprinted with the shape of a cat on one side. It looks almost like a block of ice.
The funny thing is that when I first saw this item I thought of our cat that passed away last year, “Mr. Sox”. It was a lovely memory that flashed by. Don’t you love it when that happens?
Okay, time to find out if this glass kitty is eBay worthy…
As I can’t readily identify the origins or artist of this piece, I inspect it for clues.
On the bottom/back there’s a sticker which reads: ‘MATS JONASSON Sweden Full Lead’.
Awesome! Now I know the designer and the fact there is more possible value in this item because it’s lead crystal and not just a “chunk of glass”.
Thank goodness for people who leave stickers on items!
Off to Terapeak we go to do a search for the artist: Mats Jonasson. The results showed over 3,271 listings with only an 11.59% sell-through rate.
No offense to Mats Jonasson but this data alerts me that the brand name is not “huge”. There will be a limited audience of collectors.
Looking through the top sellers I can see the different animals and artwork styles. The large wolf for example was #1 and sold for $399.00 as an auction but with only one bid. This means $399.00 was the opening bid and only one person bid on the item.
When things look like they might not be going so well, go BIG!
What this means is that normally I search items using very specific terms. But when those terms show me limited profitability, I’ll think and search “outside the box”. Mats Jonasson may not be so popular (maybe) but CATS sure are! Just look on Facebook! LOL
Using very specific keyword terms can increase your CTR (click-through-rate) because you’re showing buyers that you have exactly what they want, right? Right! But, being creative and broadening the scope of the audience can, also, help you make more money on eBay.
By adding the word ‘CAT’ to the same search at Tereapeak, I soon realize that my cat does not compare to any of the cats showing up. The styles are a bit different so now I am kind of doubting that mine is a cat!;)
Looking a bit closer at the fur I notice there are some distinctive stripes and the more I look at it the more I still think it is a cat but I do try a few other searches using the following words:
There are many glass blocks “like” this one but not with the same cat!
Next I try eBay current listings using the same words “Mats Jonasson Cat”.
Now I see many different kittens with balls of yarn with asking prices all over the board.
Some glass kitties are priced as low as $12.00 and others as high as $230.00.
OK, we need better data.
Now I adjust the settings to “View Highest Price” first.
I scroll down and poof, there is our cat with an asking price of $50.00! This eBay seller has titled it a “Lead Crystal Paperweight.”
I also discover that there is actually a whole category for this artist! Mats must be a pretty big name if he even has his own category on eBay! It can be found under Pottery and Glass > Glass > Art Glass > Scandinavia > Mats Jonasson.
Remember earlier when I thought maybe Mats’ crystal sculptures may not be profit making items? By going BIG with the search, I’ve learned that is not the case!
As a side note, when you can, use the option to add a second category. This gets your item in front of more ‘eyes’.
The practical choices here would be either paperweights or cats. I’m going with cats!
Armed with the paperweight intel, I search on Tereapeak for “Cat Paperweight”. This produced over 2,702 listings with a 17.58% sell through rate.
This isn’t setting my hair on fire but I learned a *LOT* by conducting this search because the number one selling cat paperweight was by Rookwood. It sold for $550.00!
We must watch for those in the future! Can you say, “Here kitty, kitty”?
Adding the word ‘Crystal’ to that same Terapeak search found a Waterford cat which sold for $99.00. However, a the end of the day, the average selling price for Crystal Cat Paperweights looks to be about $39.00.
So, with that said and all this eBay research, I listed the cat as an auction with an opening bid of $34.99.
I’m rolling the dice and taking it out for a spin!
View eBay item #401042197079 and check back because if it does not sell then, as you know, Plan B will be to run it as a “Fixed Price” listing and make it a bit less than the $50.00 one we found.
On a final note, it’s important that you send clients an email once you’ve listed their items. Include links to their products and invite them to follow along.
Many of my clients have LOVED watching the selling process! It’s kind of like a reality show blended with a game show – especially when they receive that payment! They get so excited when they see bids on their items! Just another reason I love my ‘job’!
Until next time!