A Network of Experts

Before eBay, many people frequented “Antique” shops for old teapots, lampshades and various other odds and ends to add to a collection or decorate a house.  I’m sure there were many antique dealers who were quite knowledgeable about their wares, but it is very hard to be an expert on all subjects and many buyers have been duped over the years.  One of our clients gave us an “antique” tin fire truck to sell, telling me she paid $100 in a local antique store a few years back.  The tin truck was clearly marked “China” and even I know that the old ones were either made in the US or Japan.  This “antique” was made in the 1970’s or later and I was lucky to get $15 for it.  That is why the large antique houses, such as Sotheby’s and Christies, have experts in many departments – there is not just one person who can possibly know it all.

We have been selling on eBay for over 7 years and it has been quite a learning curve.  I believe myself to know a lot about many things, but I would never market myself as an “expert” in any field.  I thoroughly research all items that I am going to put up for auction, as I am striving to get the best value for my client.  The internet is a good source, but sometimes, I need more information than what I can find out there.  Over the years, I have “met” on the internet, experts in many fields.  I keep a directory of my sources and have found them invaluable.  I have been in contact with a gentlemen in France who knows everything there is to know about WWI and WWII helmets.  There is another in England who, from just a few photos, can tell me all about an antique slot machine.  There is a doll restorer who gladly will tell me the history and value of an antique doll, and a sports collector/dealer who can tell me more than I want to know about a pre-war baseball program.

There are many sellers who do not know what they are auctioning off, and there are dealers who jump in and try to take advantage of them.  Many times we are asked (usually within a few minutes of the auction going live) if we have a “Buy Me Now” price in mind.  I quickly look at this buyer’s feedback and can tell if they are a dealer, just by what they sell.  Just last week, I posted a vintage camera and was quickly offered $150.00.  I was able to determine that this buyer was a seller himself (of high end cameras) and turned down the offer as too low.  I sold the camera on auction for $525.00!  Sometimes an offer comes in that is too good to be true – then it is usually from a collector – and we close the deal immediately.  But selling on eBay, or anywhere, is not easy and you need to do your homework to get the best price.  Some of our clients are “old school” and are looking for “antique” store prices.  Little do they realize, that many times, those prices were just wild guesses.  With the internet, the world has opened up.  Yes, there are times when an item goes for less than we had hoped.  But in most cases, if the item is described correctly, it should go for its true value.  So to the doll collector who tells me her doll is worth $1000 – I tell her, that sentimental value does not contribute to actual value.  To the man who handed me his old tin race car that he played with as a kid and said “do the best you can” – I did – it sold for $1700! (picture shown above).  Some tin cars really are valuable – you just need to be able to tell the difference.

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Published in: on June 30, 2010 at 7:38 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. Great information. People often forget that antiques have periods of popularity. What may be worth a lot a year ago may not be worth as much today. It’s all about demand.


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