Even though the Internet has been around for many years and actually the concept was being worked on back in the 1960s and the project was called ARPANET, many people today think only about eBay when it comes to the antiques and collectibles market on the Internet. eBay is certainly a great resource for buying and selling items as well as a place to conduct research but it is not the only place as there are numerous other resources like collector’s clubs, online malls that specialize in items you are interested in, and antique and collectibles shops as many items are already identified and valued and a description of age and purpose can usually be found right on the item’s tag or label. Also, eBay is indeed a great place to sell your items but as you keep reading you will see that there are also many other options for selling your treasures too!
Identifying what you have
For many the first step to selling an item is figuring out what the heck it is. Is it a figurine or something that looks like it should be in a kitchen, or a piece of furniture? Perhaps it is a book or a collection of ephemera. What if it could possibly be some tools – but are they for a garage or kitchen? What if you have clothing, handbags, or jewelry? Yes, identifying the item is the very first step!
Step 1. How to identify what your have:
The first thing I do when I have a new item in my hand is to look on the bottom for any possible identifying makers marks, patent numbers, country where item was made stamp, tags or labels, and then I also look the item over to see if there are any signatures. Also, this is the time to check the item condition for damage, repairs, chips, cracks, crazing, dings, flea bites, tears, rips, holes, stains, smells, discoloration, etc….
If your item has any of the above identifiers then you are in some luck as you can now take the information and proceed with researching it. But, if your item has none of the above ways to identify it, then you will need to do even more research in the hopes of identifying it.
Step 2. Researching the item:
This is usually be the most time consuming step in the whole process but it can yield huge results for you!
You can use this step to research your item whether it has one of the above identifying marks or if it has none. I would recommend starting with eBay if you have any of the above methods to identify the item you may try typing in the makers’ name into eBay’s search engine or enter the brand or what the item is with the patent number and see what results are returned. Hopefully you will get a nice return of results and you can sift through them and decide which description gives you the most information and helps you determine what the item is and possible value as pretty much anything and everything has at some point been listed here.
If you have no identifying marks on the item, try typing into eBay’s engine what the item is (pitcher, figurine, lithograph, etc..) along with the color(s) and size and see what results are returned, you may get a lot so take your time sifting through the many results to see if any come even close to your item.
If you are having no luck using eBay, I recommend you try using one of the major search engines such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing to see what comes up that matches the same information you entered into the eBay engine and also try searching via Google’s image search as this has proved invaluable to me! You use the same search keywords but the results are returned with images and pictures so you can more quickly and efficiently go through the results. If you see an image that may be close to looking like your item, click on it and read what it says – hopefully this will give you all the information you need to either determine what your item is and its value, or at least give you additional information(date item made, purpose of item, manufacturer info etc…) so you can continue with your research.
If your item has a patent number you can try to learn some information about it by using the United States Patent and Trademark Office website here. Hopefully when you enter the patent number you will get some great information.
One of my standby researching methods is to use the many resource books and guides available today. I spend a lot of time at my local bookstore, library, and on Amazon. There is most likely a book written on the subject your item belongs to. If you have a cookie jar, salt and pepper shaker, bowls, dishes, or table linens you will want to seek out a book that specializes in these items and most likely will even have a photo and description of your exact item along with a value price guide. So, seek out books that deal with the type of item(s) you are researching.
Also, there are a vast number of online resources and websites that can be a wonderful tool for price guides and values, images, descriptions. Some websites even track auctions and can give you a breakdown of what the item(s) sold for over a specified amount of time and Terapeak, Flickr, Worthpoint, and Priceminer are a couple.
Check back soon for step #3 as we will be posting up a follow-up article titled “Crazy 4 Collectibles! Secrets to Selling Your Collectible for Maximum Profit” and this article is filled with great tips, tricks, and ideas that you may not have considered and that will make the selling of your item(s) very successful.