My Weekly Score: Antique Balzac Books

This was a nice little surprise for us. The Boss bought a set of these books at an auction for $55, which is generally a pretty good price for an old series like this. I dug all 26 of them out, took pictures, and put them online as quickly as I could. It was a good deal.

Then an hour later – as I was fishing through more of the boxes from the sale – I came across 27 more. Wow! That was a much bigger set than I had anticipated. Keeping my head down, hoping no one would notice my folly, I quickly snapped some more pictures and added them to the original listing. I bumped the price a little, but I still kept it low according to what Terapeak was telling me.

The books, by the way, are from the late 1800s to early 1900s. They are by Honore de Balzac and have been translated from French into English. They detail scenes from this period in time – from country life to Parisian life to military and political life. With 53 volumes, there’s PLENTY here to read through.

The cool thing, especially, is that these are hardcover, limited edition books. Only 1,000 copies were made of each title and the set we had was #52. This wasn’t the complete set, as some volumes from each title were definitely missing, but it was very nearly so! And overall the damage was fairly minimal – something that is always nice to see in books this old.

We ended up selling the whole set for $200.00. Not bad!!

Have you ever come across an old set of books like these? What were they about? Do you like keeping them or selling them?

Word of the Week: Milk Glass

No, I’m not talking about the cup your drink your milk out of every morning.

I’m talking about this stuff:

Milk glass is a type of glass that is opaque or semitransparent. The most well known and popular color is white, which is what gave it its name, but it also comes in blue, pink, yellow, brown, and even black.

Milk glass was made as far back as the 1500s and was developed in Venice, and it’s been pretty popular ever since. Some people have HUGE collections of this stuff. It’s made into all sorts of shapes and sizes.

I’ve found that there’s “good” milk glass and “bad” milk glass – some pieces just seem cheap to me, like they were made differently. “Real” milk glass is not hard to come by, though the colored pieces might be. If you find it at a flea market or yard sale, consider buying it. It sells pretty well online.

Here are some pictures of pieces of milk glass we’ve come across:

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This is an example of blue milk glass. This is actually the “Doric/Delphite” pattern from Jeannette.

Spotlight: Sarah Coventry

As I said in last week’s post, I’m going to start switching up our themes for Monday. We’ll still have the How to Sell series, but I’m also going to include some other things that we’ve learned over the years of selling on eBay. I want to start off with my newest idea: Spotlight.

Spotlight posts are going to take one company, one pattern, one era, one something and give you the history on it. As a seller (or a collector), it’s always important to know as much as you can about the items that you resell or collect. Not only does this make you sound more competent, but it’s also fun and interesting!

We’re going to start off with one of my all-time favorite costume jewelry makers – Sarah Coventry!

“Americana” brooch

Charles H. Stuart had already created Emmons (another jewelry company) by the time he decided to make Sarah Coventry into its sister-company. SC was named after Stuart’s granddaughter and started production in 1949. The primary means of selling their jewelry was to have home fashion shows, which continued until 1984.

Throughout the years, this company has used several different marks and stamps to identify their pieces. You can find the history of the company that I detailed here, plus a breakdown of the different stamps and when they were used at this link here.

There are so many things I love about this company. The first of which is quality. They produced costume jewelry – which means that no previous or semi-precious stones were used – but they had some spectacular designs and some really wonderfully made pieces. If you’ve got a really great piece of costume jewelry in your hand, there’s a pretty good chance that it was made by Sarah Cov or Emmons. And since the same guy owned both companies, that should give you some insight into how he ran his business.

Speaking of designs, check out some of the pieces we’ve come across. Aren’t they beautiful? Sarah Coventry tends to be bright and fun without being gaudy. I think costume jewelry has a bad reputation for being a little over the top, a little outdated, and a little on the hokey side. Not SC. These designs are timeless and there are plenty of people who still enjoy wearing these.

SC also has some pretty spectacular sets. They’re often very classy looking, and not too outlandish. One of my favorite is this gorgeous and sparkly one you see below. I also particularly like it when I can find the name of the set. This one is called, “Contessa.”

This set is called “Contessa.” We had earrings and a brooch.

How do you feel about Sarah Coventry jewelry? Do you own any pieces? Recognize anything we have here?

My Weekly Score: Pyrex Range-Top Teapot

This was a really neat vintage find that had a surprising value to it.

It is a range-top teapot made by Pyrex. This is probably from the ‘50s. The best part was that it came to us brand new in the box.

It also had the heat spreader grid and the original instruction booklet. Whoo hoo! That always makes something more valuable, more interesting, and more usable.

I don’t know what exactly we got this for, but it was only a couple of bucks. We ended up selling it for $56.51, though! Even more interesting than that? It went to Japan!

Word of the Week: Simichrome

Before I get into the post for today, I just want to direct your attention to an interview I did with my friend Julie Glover. She has a series of posts called Amazing Words Wednesday where  she picks a topic about the English language and discusses it. Sometimes they make you laugh and sometimes they make you think! Today, she interviewed me about our Word of the Week posts and how antiques and collectibles have a language all their own. She had some really great questions, so please do me a favor and pop on over to her blog to check it out!

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Today we are going to be talking about this:

Simichrome is a polishing paste that you can use to test an item to see if it is Bakelite. I’m not going to do a WotW post on what Bakelite is because Black Dahlia did one that I certainly won’t be able to top.

You can use Simichrome to polish metal, but we most often use it to test Bakelite. You simply clean the surface of whatever it is you want to test, take a paper towel with some Simichome on it, and rub it on the item. The paste is pink, but if your item is Bakelite it’ll turn it a brownish-yellow color.

There are other ways to test Bakelite, but some of them can be detrimental to the piece or not particularly effective. Just note that this isn’t a perfect process, even if you use Simichrome. It won’t work on some black pieces, and sometimes if your piece is dirty it can discolor the pink of the paste.

This is still the preferred way to test for Bakelite, though. And I find it kind of fun!

This is what we tested. The handles are made of Bakelite.

This is the color of the paste when it comes straight from the tube. It’s light pink in color.

This is what the paste will look like if your item is NOT Bakelite. (It won’t change color.)

This is the brownish color the paste turns that indicates the item is Bakelite.

How to Sell: Fabric

This is going to be our last How to Sell post for a little while. This series isn’t going away; it’s just going to take a step back to let some other posts shine for a while. I’ve hit on all the major categories we sell in, so I’m running low on ideas (if you have any, please let me know!). I also want to talk about some other important things that vintage collectors and sellers should be aware of.

So, to make a long story short:

> Mondays will feature How to Sell posts once in a while.

> Other series will be alternated in to change it up a bit, including posts on fakes/forgeries, diagrams detailing the different parts of an item, and even a section that tells you the differences between two similar things. There may even be some fun surprises in store once in a while, too!

> Wednesdays and Fridays will still be Word of the Week and My Weekly Score, respectively.

There’s 18 yards here – buy in bulk!

Fabric:

Fabric is super easy to buy and sell, and it does fairly well online. Imagine having a project in mind and going to your local fabric shop, only to discover that the pattern you absolutely need for it doesn’t exist in the store. What do you do?

Turn to eBay, of course! eBay has sellers from not only all around the country, but all around the WORLD. If you can’t find the perfect pattern for your project, chances are that it never existed in the first place.

Buying

When buying fabric to resell, we have a few suggestions:

1. Buy vintage. People love vintage fabric for the crazy designs and retro style patterns. Just be careful it’s not too stained or worn.

2. Buy crazy. The uglier, wilder, stranger the design, the better it will sell. I promise! It’s happened to us time and time again, and we swear by this rule. Iconic colors (like turquoise for the ‘50s and yellows/oranges/browns for the ‘70s) are important to look out for too.

3. The more, the merrier. Longer pieces are better than shorter ones. Buying ten yards versus buying one yard is also better. It’s always better to have too much, rather than too little.

4. Smell your fabric. It sounds weird, but this is pretty important. Sometimes the musty/mothball smell doesn’t come out. Fabric always soaks up cigarette smoke too. Some people are very sensitive to these smells, so make sure that you’re aware that you might be buying fabric with a strong odor.

Crazy patterns = good!

Selling

1. We form our titles like this: 4 Yds Yellow Orange Flower Paisley Jersey Fabric Vintage 1970s. (That’s not a full 80 characters, but you get the idea. Generally the format is as such: Length, Colors, Pattern, Type, “Fabric,” Style, etc. Including words like “sewing,” “apparel,” “upholstery,” etc. is also important.)

2. Know your fabric types. This is so, so important. We’re still learning, or else I’d outline the ones that I know off the top of my head. I’m familiar with about two of them – jersey and tulle. I can tell what these are without asking. Beyond that? Not a chance. Do your research and commit the different kinds to memory. Being able to put the specific type of material in your listing will help you sell a lot more of it.

3. Describe, describe, describe. This is especially true if you don’t know what kind of fabric you have. Since I’m not familiar with a lot of the different types, I usually try to explain how it feels – stretchy vs. non-stretchy, silky vs. cottony, thin vs. thick, etc.

4. Condition. This goes along with the previous point – describe! Look for moth holes, rips, and stains. If there are some, make sure you mention them. Sometimes these spots can be cut away, washed, or hidden, so it might not be a big deal to a lot of buyers. As I said in the previous section, odor is also important. If it smells like anything other than regular old fabric, make sure you mention it. A lot of people have allergies, so you need to make sure you’re very clear about this.

5. Give suggestions. Some fabric was just made to be turned into a dress. Or a pair of pants. Or a handbag. The buyers who are going to be interested in your listings are creative folks, so giving them an idea for what they could use your fabric for might just push them to buy it!

This is the best way to take pictures of fabric, especially if it has a pattern. The close up shots give the buyer the best view of the design and they stand out better in that long list of items when a buyer searches for something on eBay.

We’ve done pretty well with fabric in the past. The ones that do best are the larger pieces with patterns – particularly floral. Also, note that lace is a HUGE money-maker. When we run out of room (or we’re just tired of looking at it all) we’ll sell our fabric in large lots – these go really fast, so it’s nice when we need to move inventory right away.

My Weekly Score: Imari Egg Coddler

Now, if you are like I was a few weeks ago, you probably have a pretty blank stare on your face. An egg coddler? What the heck is that?

Answer: A device to make coddled eggs.

*crickets*

A coddled egg is – apparently – a lightly cooked egg. (Can you tell I’m not a huge connoisseur of eggs? I like mine either one of two ways: hard boiled or scrambled.) They are prepared using an egg coddler – a metal or porcelain cup in which you first butter the inside, then crack open an egg and drop it in. You screw on the lid and put it in a pot of very hot water (not quite up to boiling).

They turn out similar to poached eggs.

Right, so…what was the point of this post? (Now I’m hungry…)

Oh, yes! Egg coddlers.

These are actually quite collectible. It depends on the maker, but Royal Worcester makes some pretty fabulous ones, including the one you see in the pictures I’ve provided.

This particular coddler is in the “Grainger Imari” pattern. It’s a king sized coddler (4” tall) and was made in England. This was in perfect condition – no chips and no cracks.

We bought this one for less than $4 and resold it for $32.11. Told you they were collectible!