How do I find inventory to sell?

One of the questions that I get asked quite a bit is “How do you find inventory to sell?”.  I literally cannot count how many times that I have been asked this, and here’s a list of some of the ways that I find items to sell:

Auctions, garage sales and even estate sales are three of the easiest ways that I find inventory.  One trick that I do is to look in my local paper and online for sales that are in my area.  Another thing that I do is to look for signs that lead to a sale that may not be advertised as well.  I have found some good deals at sales that are not well advertised.

Here are some other ways that I have found some inventory:

I have also found items to sell that were thrown away.  There have even been a few items that I have gone into a dumpster after.  When you do this, you need to be careful because that could be something in the trash that could hurt you!

I also picked up items that have been put out with a FREE sign by them.  This could be someplace like the curb or in a garage sale—you never know where you might find a free bin!

There have also been a few times that people want to get rid of something and they let me have it if I haul it away for them. It always pays to look when you are out and about—you never know what you will find.  Where have you found items to sell?

A lesson learned on reproductions

While shopping at one of the local antique malls in my area, I happened onto something that could be a very good thing. It happened to be an R S Suhl shaker, or even possibly hat pin holder.

With the price being right, and some wear being present on the bottom of the shaker, I went ahead and bought it.  When I went to find out what I could about the mark (so I could list it online), there was a little voice in the back of my head that was saying that something was not right.

And then I found a shaker just like the one that I have.  I was thrilled!  I started to read what was posted online about it, and sure enough, that little voice I was hearing was right.  The thing was a reproduction and possibly even an outright fake.

The lesson I learned?  A little research and knowledge can go a long way in the long run.

Two Cents worth? Yep

Did you know that there was actually a 2-cent coin that was produced by the United States mint?

The Two Cent piece officially ran from 1864 to 1872, but there was a copy made for collectors in 1873.

photo courtesy of Wikipedia.com

The economic turmoil of the American Civil War caused any and all government-issued coins to vanish from circulation (they were hoarded by the public) Even the Indian Head cent—which was made of bronze—was pretty much gone from circulation (The Coinage Act Of 1864 authorized the cent to switch to a bronze composition and the production of the Two Cent coin).

Even though there were other mints actively producing coins at the time, this coin was only produced at the mint based in Philadelphia.  What this means is that there will not be a mint mark anywhere (which is the way this mint was marking the coins until 1980).

Two of the more famous die varieties happened in 1864.  One is called the “large motto,” and the other is called the “small motto.”  These two varieties deal with the motto, “In God We Trust.”  The words IN, GOD, and TRUST has some small differences, while the word WE has the most differences.  It all hinges on the size of it, and it is very noticeable.  The WE on “large motto” is larger than the WE on the “small motto.”

Large motto photo courtesy of Wikipedia.com
small motto photo courtesy of Wikipedia.com

The “small motto” is much scarcer than the “large motto.”  The best idea is to keep an eye out for it in case you might walk across a case full of coins at a mall, or happen to be at a coin shop or show.

Have you seen one of these really cool coins?

What are some questions that you ask a dealer?

There are times when you buy an item and you realize that you WAY overpaid.  Or you find out that the items a reproduction.  You stand there and start to kick yourself over it.  There are even times when you are interested in purchasing an item and not sure about it.  As collectors and dealer, we eventually will get to that point.

There are some questions that you need to remember that are very useful.  What are they you ask?

What do you know about the item?  Do you know when it was made?

Is it the real deal or is it a reproduction, and how do you know?

Has this item been repaired?  If it has been repaired, where and how was it repaired?  Was it restored?

Do you know who made it, and what was it used for?

These are all great questions to help you out, and you will eventually add to this list over time.  Any honest dealer will be more than glad to answer any and all of these questions for you.

There’s one great rule of thumb that I have for this—if you still have any lingering questions or doubts about the item, just walk away from it and think about it.  If, over time, you feel that there’s something about it that isn’t right, don’t buy it.

What kinds of questions have you asked about an item?

Collecting Tip: Keep Your Eyes Peeled

Without a doubt, the fun of collecting is the hunt.  But don’t ever think that the hunt has to be relegated to thrift stores, antique shops, and auctions.  Sometimes, the hunt even comes to you.

Case in point: I was in high school when my local library retired its card catalog.  In conjunction with closing their catalog, the library offered patrons a giveaway: a free card signed by the author of the book.  The only catch was that you couldn’t request any specific author or book—it was the luck of the draw.

Not one to give up an opportunity for a collectible signature, I signed up.  And this is what I received:

I really did luck out with what I won—I’m a sports fan, and have always followed racing, so to get a card signed by Richard Petty was something of a thrill.

Now, what I have is a cross-collectible: I have a piece of sports memorabilia, a signed autograph from a celebrity, and a piece of library history (the card catalog has now gone the way of the dinosaur). 

Which just goes to show you: always keep your mind open, always be on the lookout.  You never know where you’re going to find those really cheap—or, in this case, absolutely free—pieces to add to your collection.

What about you?  Have you stumbled upon free goodies like this one?

What are some of the parts and pieces of vintage furniture?

Slipper feet, veneer and leafs are a small selection of some of the parts of a piece of vintage furniture that you will run across when you are looking at furniture.  You never know what you might find when you are out at an auction, estate sale or even an antique mall.  Here are a couple of pieces that you may run across:

Top rail—this is the horizontal rail at the very top of a chair back.  There are as many designs of a top rail as there are designer.

This photo is courtesy of Wikipedia.com

Manchette—this is an upholstered arm that is found on a wooden-frame chair.  This portion of the arm will be upholstered with the same material that the seat has.

This photo is courtesy of Wikipedia.com

Stretcher—this is a horizontal support piece that is found on a table, chair or other item of furniture.  This piece ties vertical elements of the piece together.  A stretcher can be seen in the bottom of the photo:

This photo is courtesy of Wikipedia.com

This is only a small portion of what you will run across.  What have you seen?

How do you start a collection?

When it comes to collecting, there are so many areas to start a collection in.  It could be baseball items, Roseville pottery, Fenton art glass or even stamps.  There are so many that it can literally make your head spin completely off.

Not only that, it can also be pretty daunting when you are new to the vintage and collectibles market.  What are some things to remember when you start out?

The first thing to consider is you need to decide what you want to collect. You might want to consider what your interests are weather it be coins, advertising items, glassware or even pottery.

The second thing to do is to do some research for your collection.  Before you buy the first piece, you need to know what to look for—when it was made, what it was made from and if there are reproductions are a good starting place.

While looking this up, look to see what the pieces you are interested in are selling for.  This will help give you a good idea on what to pay when you run across an item for your collection.

The third thing to do is to focus your collection.  Once you’ve made your choice, you need to narrow it down to the best that you can find.

Also, you need to remember to be patient!  When you are collecting, it’s a marathon and not a sprint.  You don’t need to rush out and buy all the pieces you can find.  Instead, slow down and enjoy the journey.

This is just some of the things to keep in mind when you start a collection.  What tips did you run across when you started a collection?

What are some glassware serving pieces that you might run across?

When shopping at your favorite flea market, antique mall or thrift store, it will not take long for you to run across a serving piece.  They come in all shapes like platters, punch bowls or even a cup.  Not only that, there are a wide variety of materials that they are made of.

Here are a few of the glassware pieces you might run across when you are out and about:

Berry set—this consists of a large bowl with matching smaller bowls.  They are used for serving items like fruit and some desserts.

Salt, saltcellar—this is a small bowl used at the table to hold salt.  This type of container is also called a “master salt”.

Celery vase—this is a tall and narrow vase that is used on the table to hold celery.

Compote—this is a dish that usually comes with a stem and a base that is used for serving compote (a fruit that is cooked in syrup).  There is a smaller dish that has a similar form used for a serving for one person.

This is only a small handful of what you will run across.  What types of serving pieces have you run across?

What exactly is opalescent glass?

It doesn’t matter exactly where you are shopping for antiques and collectibles, you will run across a type of glassware called Opalescent glass. What is it exactly?

Opalescent glass is a general term for either a clear or colored glass that has a milky white,opaque or even a translucent effect to a portion of a glass piece.  It could be limited to just the rim of the piece, but you will also see it on the body of the item.

Lalique, Sabino, Jobling (this is from England) and even Fenton are all well known for their opalescent glass production.  This type of glass has also been produced in various other countries like Italy and Czechoslovakia.

One way of creating this glassware is the slow cooling of the thicker areas of the glass.  This results in what’s called crystallization, which is the formation of the milky white layer.  Another method is used in hand blown glass.  When hand blowing the glass, you use two layers of glass—the outer layer will contain chemicals that react to heat to cause the opalescence.

Another way to create Opalescent glass is to reheat certain areas of a piece and apply chemicals to the glass.  When you reheat the piece, the chemicals you use will create the opalescence (the chemicals are heat sensitive).

Over the years, there have been quite a few different colors that have been made that sport this type of effect.  Here are some of the colors that you will run across:

Amber Opalescent


French Opalescent

Pink Opalescent

Blue Opalescent

This is just a few of the colors that have been made.  What colors have you run across?

What are some key aspects that you need consider when you are buying antiques?

When buying antiques and collectibles, there are some key aspects that you need to keep in mind.  Here are a couple to remember:

Try to keep within your budget.  You wouldn’t want to spend an entire month’s budget on just one item.

Buy what you love.  It can be anything from pottery to advertising items.

Quality of the piece.  You might think this as the condition of the piece, but it is actually down a totally different road.  With this, you need to look at how well each piece in the item is made and how well the item is put together.

Keep an eye on the condition.  Chips, cracks and even missing paint will more often than not take away from the value of the item.

Ask plenty of questions.  Any reputable dealer will be more than glad to take the time to answer any question you might have about the piece.

This is just a couple of the things to keep in mind when you are buying antiques or collectibles.  What are some that you know of?