This was another 'mid century' item that was so awful that I knew someone would love it and sure enough it sold in just a couple weeks. A good 'picker' can find pieces like this at the thrift stores for $5 and cash in big with the right buzz words and the expertise to pack and ship it.
These things used to be all the rage and cost a fortune when new. The company took a wrong turn when they started making some of their stuff in China and then realized that the main reason their customers were paying hundreds of dollars for a freaking basket was because it was made in America. When we get collections of these, we usually just sell them in the store as the online market is flooded with them.
The market on Chinese antiques is a strange thing. I researched a nearly identical pair of bowls that had sold for around $8,000 so you can imagine I had high hopes for mine. After nearly a year of fishing for a high price, I finally decided that the experts knew more than me and cut them loose for a song. An interesting mention; most of the Asian antiques we do find go back to where they were made. The world is a small place these days and more than 25% of our internet sales leave the country!
The problem with selling large and heavy things on eBay is that the cost of shipping directly cuts in to what people are willing to pay for a given item. Since a piece like this could sit in the showroom for months or even years before finding a new home, we really don't have a choice and simply have to hope for the best.
A customer bought some lamps today and asked if we had any pieces like this for a science project. The collectible value of old glass is not what it used to be and this piece had a small chip, so I just gave it to her as finding things a good home is what we are all about! You'll notice it glows under a blacklight and is usually a degree or two warmer than room temperature and that is how you know it's uranium. *Wiki: Uranium glass is glass which has had (radioactive) uranium, usually in oxide diuranate form, added to a glass mix before melting for coloration.
These little metal models were used both to train observers to recognize ships by silhouette and also as position markers on tactical maps. Collectors want to buy things that not just any collector will have and these were only available in small circles. They were not in the best condition so the price was reflective of that.
This rug was probably several thousand dollars when purchased. The rug market is a lot like the diamond market and second hand pieces are worth as little as 10% of the original retail. Someone got a really good deal and we got lucky selling it the first time around on eBay. It was compact enough that it could be shipped and being able to ship an item makes all the difference in finding it a good home quick.
Many types of figurines that used to be collectible are no longer in demand but a few can still have good value and maker, subject matter, and condition are the factors, We find that approximately 25% of our internet sales are made to other countries and it's always a surprise to see what obscure items leave our borders.
Items like this old pulley can be found at antique malls all over the country for $5 and the fact that we sold this one for $40 was only because we took the time and effort to put it on the internet at someone's fingertips. Sometimes we only get a certain price for a given item is because we have a store and a system to sell things and the cost of being in business is huge!
Our biggest sale of the month so far, this old tea set was so ugly that I knew it must be special. Seriously, I suspected it would go for a high price, but this was one auction that exceeded expectations for a change. With so much old pottery and glassware flooding the market, only the best brands and rarest pieces have a chance of selling these days.
Old clocks typically have some appeal although the market is not what it used to be. This piece surprised me a bit as it didn't work and still brought a very nice price. Oftentimes the cost to repair some types of items exceeds the value so as a dealer we have to know when to hold, when to fold, and when to run.
Most people know that items made of gold or silver will have value based on the metal alone. When we sell things on eBay, our hope is that collectors looking for certain patterns or brands will pay above and beyond the scrap price. In cases like this, where the item is monogrammed with an initial, the sale price will usually be around the melt value. Sure enough, this sale was point blank scrap - I could have saved the 13% in transaction fees if I had just called my dealer. Oh well - if we don't take the chance, we might miss out.
Today an older woman visited our store and wanted to buy just the glass shade from a lamp we had. The lamp wouldn't have been much good to us without the shade so I instead asked her if she had looked on eBay. She said she didn't have a computer so I offered to find one for her. After just a few minutes of searching, we found the exact one she needed and ordered it on the spot.
Here's a piece I thought was really cool and might be worth a fortune but after it sat on my shelf for six months waiting to sell, my best offer was only $100. I've learned the hard way that just because I like something doesn't mean it's worth what I had hoped it would be. And usually your first offer is your best offer so don't look a gift horse in the mouth!