Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Can you still find bargains on eBay?

Most people now are familiar with eBay, even if they don't buy or sell, the concept is no longer new to many people, even my Nan! That does mean that it has become a popular selling destination, with prices often reflecting retail value without the overheads of shops. Many dealers hate eBay and feel it is one of the reasons the trade has declined. Many, like myself, rely upon it to turn over stock that may not find its market at fairs or old stock that hasn't sold.

But the big question: are there still bargains to be had? My favourite search term to use is 'old' simply because there are some people that may not know about fine art that use it to describe a whole host of beautiful antiques.

Trawling through sold listings to determine the value of your own stock can prove a tricky job when you notice beautiful items that you have missed out on.

This sold on the 13th December which may explain why the sold price was only £49.51. What is it? A fold up travel cot from the 1930's!

I have never seen another like this and I doubt I will, despite the beauty of it I would imagine it wasn't very sturdy for any baby over a month old! The beautiful fretwork carving combined with the thinness of the wood would certainly not pass health and safety standards now.

So is buying in December a good way to bag a bargain? I always think if you pick a busy time of year when people's interests are focused elsewhere you are likely to grab yourself a decently priced item. The most popular time for sellers to end their auctions is on Sunday evening when most people are sat at home and browsing eBay.

I absolutely love hunting eBay for 'sleepers' too. These are the listings where people have put minimal effort in and yet the item has reached a high value. One of my favourite search terms for finding bargains and sleepers alike is 'old.' This rather simplistic adjective is used by a wide variety of people when they don't know much about an item, they are simply evaluating it on either a) how long they have had it/it has been in their family or b) how it looks.

This is a fantastic example of a sleeper and surely must prove there are still bargains to be had in the antiques world on eBay.

Old Enamel Plate

"Inherited this some years ago and put it away as it was gruesome and scared the children. As you can see, it depicts a pig being slaughtered, probably for the Christmas festivities as the word December is across the bottom. Who the fellow is on the back, not sure but looks like old Nick to me.

It measure 22cm rim to rim and if you look at the photos carefully you will see there is some damage to the rim in two places.

Happy bidding!"

This 'old enamel plate,' which started at 99p, sold on eBay for £410.89. The title is fairly nondescript and the description is self explanatory. These are both potential indicators of an item that has not been researched. Interestingly, experienced sellers use this technique to try and draw in potential bidders who think they may be on to a winner.

A good price for a plate when the owner was unaware of what it was? This sounds like a lot for a plate however a bit of research and I found this pair that sold for approximately £10,560 before commission has been added at Bonhams in 2007.


A Limoges grisaille and gilt enamel plate depicting the Month of April from the series of the Labours of the Monthsattributable to Pierre Courteys (French, 1520-1586),

These were attributed to Pierre Courteys and comparing the design, painting and depiction they look identical to the one sold on eBay. So what does that mean? The vendor would have received approximately £7920 for the sale pricing each plate at £3960.

So the value of the eBay plate? If it is genuine and it looks (original with appropriate age related where to my eye) then with a bit of research and work to prove the provenance you could be looking at a £3500 profit.

Do bargains still exist on eBay? I like to think so... in this case I just wish I had got there sooner.

Friday, 19 January 2018

10 Reasons to Visit an Antiques Fair in 2018

The antiques world is a mythical place where items from history come alive. Whether you are looking for a unique statement piece for your home, a collector or a dealer why visit antiques fairs this year?

1.  Price
      The current downtrend in antiques over the last decade has meant that dealers have had to up their game. It also means that many who would have taken a retail shop are instead taking advantage of the many fabulous fairs across the UK to sell their wares. So finding a reasonably priced antique at a fair is more likely as the dealers do not have the same overheads as they would if they were selling from a shop. Last year I bought a snuff box for £120 which I later sold for £495. The reason behind this large profit was the inscription on the front relating to Dr Gall the founder of phrenology.

2.  History
       You can never predict what you will uncover at an antiques fair. One of the pure pleasures of searching through a fair is the fact that you can handle objects that tell a story and have lived and breathed another time period. Most antiques have a story to tell, dealers discovered an engagement ring that was 100 years old in a drawer at a fair last year. The owner had left it intended for his sweetheart before WWI. 
3.   Provenance
      Hand in hand with the history of an object goes provenance meaning a history of ownership. This is not taken literally when it comes to antiques unless you are buying particularly high end items. In which case some will show their sale history through auction houses and/or private dealers. The vast majority of objects may not even have any concrete provenance but the opportunity for you to question dealers about the item is invaluable. Many items may have come through house clearances or maybe even families that make it researchable.
4.  Rarity
      How often do you find a broken teapot missing the lid for £15 and discover it is a rare piece of early American pottery worth £10,000. Ok so this may not happen every day but it is a good example of finding a rare item amongst dealers regular goods. Dealers will usually have their own field of specialism and often end up acquiring items that may not fit in. These are the opportunities to bag a bargain.
5.  Range
      Despite the size of the fair most organisers will ensure there is a good range of stalls. Jewellery has become an increasingly competitive area in recent years so often organisers will limit the number they book. The good news is that with the uncertainity in the market many dealers opt for displaying a range of items rather than one specialism. So whether you are hunting for a unique lamp for the corner of your living room or the final piece for your collection the chances of finding it at a fair are high.
6. Unpredictability
      Who stalls out at fairs? You are never completely sure who will be selling until you arrive. So a stall holder who has just cleared a house and has a mass of new to market items may have some real gems that are yet to be discovered.
7.  Treasure Hunting 
      It is not only children who love treasure hunting. There is no greater pleasure than devoting an afternoon to rummaging at an antiques fair. Especially if you are looking for unique pieces that cannot be found in the land of flat-pack. There is nothing more gratifying than having people compliment you on an item you know will be hard to find or is a one off.
8.  Contacts
      Refurbishing a house? Collecting snuff boxes? Fairs are the best ways of meeting dealers who can help you in the future. Many will often look out for items if you ask them too especially if it means they can build up a relationship with you.
9. Large Vs Small 
      Does size matter in the world of fairs? In all honesty no. Whether you visit a fair with 20 stalls or 200 you are often afforded the same opportunities at both. Larger fairs can be overwhelming so whilst you do get an opportunity to view more items there is only a limited amount your brain (and memory), can take in. A smaller fair can also provide you with access to people selling their own family items. This has been a growing trend in recent years for families who would like a more hands on approach to dispersing their family heirlooms. I helped a lady clear her house earlier this year and neither of us or the local auction house had guessed it was a William Morris chair. It went on to sell for £6,500 at auction.

10.  Weather-proof
      Thanks to our lovely British weather you cannot always guarantee that outdoor activities will be a go, maybe not even on the day. The majority of antique fairs are indoors/under cover and offer a range of cafe style snacks to full meals. All you need for a real day out.