How to Sell: Straight Razors

Razor blades are a classy vanity item for men that are not just collectible, but are still quite usable! Some men just don’t want to give up the feel that shaving with a straight blade gives them. In other cases, some just like collecting this vintage item – maybe their father worked for the company or maybe they just like that 1930’s vibe that they get from the blade.

This all stacks up to one thing: straight razors sell.

There are some things you need to learn before you venture into this niche category. The anatomy of a razor blade is fairly straight forward (haha, see what I did there?), but you’ll need to know the terms in order to make your listing sound the best that it can.

Handle – Usually made of plastic or wood, this is the part you hold onto and is what the blade slips in between when closed.

This one sort of has a tortoiseshell pattern to it.

Blade – The sharpened metal edge.

The blade might be rusty and chipped, but we still sold it! This is an extreme example - most you'll find will still be in great condition.

Heel – The rounded end of the blade, close to the back of the razor where it meets with the handle.

The heel is that curved end on the right in the picture.

Shank – The back end of the blade where the handle is connected. It usually has the name of the company written on it.

This one says "Burke" on the shank.

Honing – The act of sharpening the blade. This is usually done with a strop.

Tang – The curved end of the straight blade, used for stability.

The tang in this picture is on the far left.

The best way to buy straight blades is to get them in large lots, and the best way to sell them is to do so individually. Here are the points you definitely want to cover in your description if you end up selling these:

A. What is the handle made out of? Bakelite handles can be pretty valuable, so grab some Simichrome and test it out.

B. Is the blade still sharp? While this is not an end-all situation if the blade is rusty, chipped, or dull, the less work the buyer has to do to get it up to par, the better.

C. Does the shank have writing on it? If so, be sure to mention what it says, as this is usually the place where the manufacturer etches or stamps their name on the razor. If there’s any writing on the blade, be sure to mention that too. People collect certain manufacturers, so this is something you should definitely include in your listing.

D. How long is the tang? This isn’t a vital piece of information, but some people are interested in knowing.

Listing these all at once is a great idea, because all you’ll have to do is cut certain words and phrasing and drop in the new information. You could put up a couple dozen in a single hour this way!

And don’t forget about accessories! If you plan on keeping a lot of razors (straight or otherwise) stocked, consider finding some accessories to go along with them. People like being able to get everything in one convenient place, instead of having to shop around. Accessories can include travel kits, strops, replacement blades, cases, grease, and more!

Here's some Oster's grease for an electric razor.

This is a case for a straight blade. Sometimes they sell all on their own!

Be aware that you’ve got a lot of collectors out there for this sort of item, so don’t be surprised if you get hounded with questions. If you see some repeats, be sure to take note of what they’re asking and include that information in future listings.

As always, questions and comments are welcome!

My Weekly Score: Lion Lamp

You might remember this little beauty from our “Word of the Week” post about figural items.

It is an original kerosene lamp made of brass and frosted glass. It has hand painted flowers across the glass in the middle, as well as four lion heads protruding from each side.

The really neat thing about this lamp is the fact that it hasn’t been converted – it has no cords or wiring running through it! It has a circular wick along the outside of the top and a compartment for oil beneath. It didn’t come with a lamp shade or chimney, but it was otherwise in excellent condition.

We bought it for about $30 and ended up selling it for $153.50! I knew it was going to do well – it’s such a beautiful piece! – but I never thought we would get five times our money back!

I love when that happens. 🙂

I think it sold for so much for a variety of reasons: the fact that it was old and original, the fact that it was hand painted, and the fact that the lion heads made it unique and regal looking. Keep an eye out for any of these elements and you should do well!

Word of the Week: Figural

The term figural denotes an object that has a human or animal form.

This is a great term to use in your eBay listings or if you’re just searching the internet for some cute new things to add to your collection. People love figural salt & pepper shakers, vases, mugs, jewelry, etc. Sometimes they’re looking for certain shapes (ie. bears or retro looking women), but other times it just doesn’t matter what it is!

Here are a bunch of examples of figural items that we’ve come across during our time selling:

This is a Wade trinket box in the shape of a turtle.

This is a Bosson's chalkware figurine, in the shape of an old sea captain's head.

Here's a figural brooch, in the shape of a hummingbird.

A mask in the shape of a woman's head also counts!

If you look closely, you'll see that the lamp has tiny lion heads protruding from the center of the glass.

And lastly we have a candlestick holder in the shape of an old man.

How to Sell: Lamps

So, The Boss has this habit. She likes to buy these beautiful, gorgeous, antique lamps.

They’re all beautiful. And gorgeous. And antique.

And very, very big. And old. And breakable.

Very, very, very breakable.

We’ve begged her not to buy anymore, but what can we do? She’s The Boss.

All joking aside, the lamps she comes home with are *usually* pretty nice. The hanging lamps and chandeliers are often from the Victorian era and have been hand painted or were made with blown glass. You can’t get a whole lot more authentic than that.

Sometimes she comes home with these, erm, interesting art deco lamps. They’re big and clunky and retro and hideous.

For the record, I really liked these lamps. I'm still kind of sad that we sold them.

But all of these lamps have one single thing in common (okay, two things if you count that they’re all lamps): they all sell really well online.

People love this stuff! Check out this cool blog from a fellow vintage lover where he details his affection for midcentury light fixtures. And he’s not alone! There are tons of people who want to decorate a certain room in their house with a 50’s lamp or a 19th century chandelier. And I don’t blame them!

So, here’s what you should look for when trying to resell lamps:

1. Make sure it works. If this is a regular table lamp, this is vital. Generally people don’t want to mess with wiring. They just want to get it, plug it in, and start appreciating it. If you’ve got older pieces, this isn’t as big of a deal. Sometimes the wires are old or were connected directly into the house’s wiring (rather than just plugging it into an outlet), so people will understand if they need to do a little DIY work to it. Obviously if it does work, that’s always a plus.

2. Condition. Cracks, chips, scratches, and missing parts or paint should all be noted. I’ve found that a little wear to a lamp isn’t that big of a deal because it gives a more vintage feel to it. Regardless, condition should always be noted.

Prisms are a pain, but people love them. This is an example of a lamp that we pieced out (more on that below).

3. Style. We have a pretty solid rule around here: “If it’s absolutely hideous and you’d never, in a million years, ever put it in your own home…buy it.” It might sound like I’m joking, but I’m not. We do this all the time. And it works. People like really unique things – conversation starters. And there are a lot of people on eBay and they all have really different tastes. So, just because you wouldn’t (ever in a million years) buy it for yourself, doesn’t mean no one else would!

4. Shipability. No, that’s not a real word, but I’m using it anyway. It’s important to realize that if you’re selling your lamp(s) online, you’re going to have to ship it across the country or across the world. If you’ve got a huge set of glass Gone with the Wind lamps, you’re going to have to take great care to ship them so they don’t break. This can get expensive! Decide if you want to take the time to box them up and ship them out and, if you do, keep an eye on your price limit and calculate your time and effort into that.

I am *not* looking forward to the day that someone buys these. Oh, wait, I don't do the shipping anymore. Muahahahaha!

And when you get to putting up the lamp online:

1. Take great care in building your title. Use synonyms like “lamp” and “light.” Is it an electric lamp or a kerosene/hurricane lamp? Desk light or hanging chandelier?  Is it Victorian or art deco? (<< That’s very important! Make sure you use one or the other if it applies!) I always make sure I put the word “works” in the title, too. (Unless, of course, it doesn’t work.)

2. Describe. Be honest when you describe condition, especially when it comes to the wiring. If the cord needs to be replaced, make sure you mention that. Chances are it won’t affect your sale all that much. Be sure to mention the dimensions, too! (This is especially true for hanging lamps, because people will want to make sure it won’t hang too low.)

3. Be very clear about how you will ship your lamp. If it has to go into more than one box, mention it in the listing AND put “Box 1/2,” “Box 2/2” on the packages. Also make sure you give yourself plenty of time to package up the lamp. If you normally ship within 24 hours, consider telling your buyer it may take a little longer. There’s no point in rushing if that means possibly breaking the lamp!

Also, note that lamp parts and pieces – even partial sets of lamps – sell really well on eBay too! It’s great for people who need them to fix up the lamps they already have. And you can sell them in large lots – easy peasy!

We ended up selling the shade to the lamp above separately because it was original to the other pieces.

So, overall, lamps can be pretty time intensive. BUT, they can also bring you a lot of return. It’s up to you to decide whether or not you think it’s worth it, but we feel that it is! (Or, at least, The Boss does, and that’s all that really matters in the end!)

My Weekly Score: Jennings Bros. Pickle Castor

As an eBay seller, one of the most annoying things about buying and selling is that you sometimes have to sit on a particular item for weeks, months, or even years until it sells. And one of the best things is when you put up an item for auction and it immediately sells!

Lucky for us, the item below falls into the second category!

This is a Jennings Bros. pickle castor. It is quadruple silverplated and the glass is clear with an etched shamrock pattern. It comes with tongs and is signed on the bottom with the company’s name.

A castor is a type of container that is usually used for serving condiments. In this case, a pickle castor is used to serve pickles! (Go figure, right?) These were obviously functional pieces, but they were also highly decorative.

Not only is the glass highly decorative, but the stand, handle, and tongs are ornate, too!

We’ve seen some amazing pickle castors come through here – cranberry glass and Vaseline glass among them. This one isn’t as flashy, but still quite ornate and beautiful! I particularly like the etched clovers, which would make this a great piece for around St. Patrick’s Day, as well as a great springtime piece.

A beautiful etched pattern!

We paid $36.40 for this little guy and got an instant return of $81.00. Sometimes you have to wait for an item to sell, and that’s fine. Honestly, I would say the majority of our items are like that and, nine times out of ten, it’s worth the wait. But I’m glad we didn’t have to wait to see this little guy go to his new home. 🙂

Here's the company's stamp on the bottom, and also where they say it is quadruple plated.

Word of the Week: Hobnail

Hobnail is a pattern of raised dots that form a bumpy texture, most often found on glassware.

While this pattern isn’t exclusively associated with milk glass, I do tend to think of that type of glassware when it comes to this pattern. The two images below should help you get a good idea of what this looks like. It’s pretty easy to spot!

If you do a basic Google search, you’ll see a whole bunch of gorgeous pieces with this pattern. My favorites are the kinds with the colored glass and an opalescent hobnail pattern. Beautiful!

How to Sell: Carnival Glass

Over the past week or so I’ve been telling you a lot about carnival glass. First, I showed you this beauty that we recently sold. Then I went on to explain exactly what carnival glass was and how it got its start. Now I’m here to tell you the best ways to buy and sell it!

Oddly enough, we’ve really only had marigold colored carnival glass around here. That’s probably the most common/least valuable color, but that doesn’t mean that it still won’t bring you some profit if you choose to invest.

So, what things should you look for?

1. Condition. This is extremely important – stay away from cracks and chips as much as possible. If there is a little damage you should be okay, but the better the piece, the more valuable it is.

2. Function. Would you rather get your hands on a toothpick holder or an entire water set? While pretty much any carnival glass piece is going to be good to sell, the more unique it is, the better chances you’ll have of selling it. You might have to invest for some of the larger pieces, but they’ll bring you the best return.

3. Color. There are a whole slew of colors out there. Some of them are definitely rarer than others. Manufacturers tended to “specialize” in certain colors. Here’s a great link to the different colors and who made what.

4. Maker. Imperial, Fenton, Northwood, Dugan. The list goes on. Some people collect companies’ works only and others don’t mind at all who made it, as long as they like the piece. We’ve seen a lot of Imperial and Northwood and these always do well.

(NOTE: This list is not in order. While condition might just be the top thing to consider, the function, color, and maker all go hand-in-hand. A combination of all four factors is what will make your piece of carnival glass more valuable.)

Now that I know that, what do I need to talk about when I sell my item?

Good question, and a lot of this will correlate with the previous section. I usually have the following information in my listing:

1. What the piece is – a water set, a compote, a vase?

2. Who made it – Imperial, Northwood, etc.

3. What the pattern is – Dewberry, Pansy, Water Lily, etc.

4. What color it is – marigold, smoke, Vaseline, cobalt, etc.

5. What it looks like – describe the pattern (floral, scroll, bold, subtle, etc.) and shape of the piece (fluted edges, footed, broad, narrow, etc.)

6. Measurements – usually height and width will suffice

7. Condition – BE SPECIFIC. Even if it’s just a flea bite (ie. a very small chip) the buyer will want to know about it. Check all edges for chips, including the bottom. Run your hand along the piece, as sometimes you can feel the damage easier than you can see it.

8. Reason – this is optional, but I sometimes like to give the buyer a reason to buy. For example, you can talk about how special this piece is and why it would make a great addition to a collection. You can mention how it makes a great gift for both collectors and people who just love good display pieces. You can also mention who would like pieces like this – those who love the color purple, those who love pansies, those who love carnival glass, those who love vases, etc. Planting a seed in someone’s head is sometimes the best way to get a sale.

That’s wonderful and everything, but your information isn’t very specific, what should I buy to resell?

I am by no means an expert on carnival glass, and there’s so much out there to look at that it can take years to become familiar with everything. With that being said, I have two great resources to start you off with.

The first one is called Carnival Glass 101 and it features some great introductory information about carnival glass, the different colors, and the different terms associated with it. It’s a nice site to peruse in your spare time.

The second site is David Doty’s Carnival Glass Website and this is THE BEST site I’ve come across for carnival glass. This is a seriously well organized site for anyone who wants to do research on carnival glass. He has entire indexes on patterns, shapes, motifs, and makers. He’s also got a wonderful breakdown of colors, marks, fakes, and more. It’s a wonderful site to use to do research on pieces you’ve already got, or to learn more about different makers and patterns in general.

So, what do you think? What’s your favorite color? I’m partial to “smoke” and the really dark “amethyst” colors. Have you got a favorite piece or a favorite maker? I’d love to hear more from you guys!