Word of the Week: Andirons

An andiron is an L-shaped iron bar used in the fireplace to hold wood. They come in pairs and logs are laid across the horizontal portion, in order to build up a fire. Getting the wood up off the ground allows more air to pass under the logs, reducing the amount of smoke. The vertical portion is there to catch the logs in case they settle and decide to roll.

These are usually made of cast or wrought iron (though the ones below are mostly brass). They’re footed, and some of the better (and older ones) have legs that are actually in the shape of legs! They may have clawed feet on the end, too. Some of these can be extremely ornate.

P.S. Happy Halloween to everyone out there planning some spooky or silly fun tonight! Eat lots of candy!!


eBay Quick Tip #3: Categories

Did you know that your store categories on eBay are searchable? That means that what you use to name your categories will show up in search engines. So, if someone searches for “Vintage Costume Jewelry” and that’s what you have one of your categories named, you have the chance to show up in their Google results.

Neat, huh?

You can have 30 characters in your category name, so choose wisely. Use as many keywords as you can, but be sure that they’re the most important ones.

A good example would be to not just name one category “pins,” but to name it “pins & brooches,” because that covers two different ways someone might be searching for inventory that could lead them to your store.

Good luck!

My Weekly Score: Tiffany Style Butterfly Lamps

Tiffany lamps sell for a lot of money. But so do lamps that are just done in their likeness. Enter the beautiful stained glass butterfly themed lamp below:

This was in perfect condition – no chips, no cracks, no damage to speak of. It was a nice electrical table lamp that still worked. It’d be perfect for just about any room in the house – living room, bedroom, office.

We picked up this lamp for $61.60 and turned it around for $160. Not bad!

With lamps like this, it’s so important to make sure you take the extra time and effort to pack it up really well. They’re so fragile and the post office is so rough on boxes that you need to be extra careful.

Have you come across any good lamps lately?

Word of the Week: Gilding

Gilding is the process of applying gold (either in leaf or powder form) to another surface (like wood or ceramics). The object can either be completely covered, or just used to highlight certain accents.

I’ve seen some “gilded” items that were simply covered in gold paint. While I don’t necessarily find this wrong in anyway, the term IS supposed to be applied to objects covered in real gold.

For example:

This technique is also quite popular on picture frames. What’s the coolest thing you’ve seen gilded?

Fakes & Forgeries: Nippon

The word “Nippon” is simply a term for “Japan.” This term was used up until about 1920 when the United States Government disallowed it. So, if you can find a piece that says Nippon, it’s probably from before the 1920s.

Of course, there’s always a catch.

There are plenty of fakes out there. And not just fakes, but newer reproductions that may be similar (or identical) to the older ones. It’s important as a buyer, seller, and/or collector to be able to spot a fake when you see one.

This list of what to look for is not an end-all professional’s guide to spotting the real deal. It’s a list of tips that should serve you well, but always be wary. (Insert clip of Mad-Eye Moody saying, “CONSTANT VIGILENCE!”) Ask for proof of authenticity, inquire about the history of that specific piece, and0 always try to buy from a reputable source.

A. Backstamps: There are plenty of fakes out there, so be sure to brush up on which ones are definitely not original Nippon backstamps. The ones that mimic the real ones will probably be blurry and/or messy looking.

B. Weight: Real Nippon is lightweight, like bone china. If it feels heavy or clunky at all, you’ve probably got a reproduction or a fake.

C. Transparency: When held up to the light, you should be able to see it shining through the piece. This is because real Nippon is made out of a thin and delicate porcelain. If it’s solid white and you can’t see the light coming through, then it’s probably fake.

D. Details: Nippon was hand painted by artists with an extremely good eye and a talented hand. There should be minimal mistakes. The glaze should be even and should cover the entire piece. No details should be sloppy or poorly painted on.

E. Gold: The newer gold will look more yellow than that bronze-gold finish of the older pieces. Don’t worry if some of the gold is worn away – this is normal for a used and vintage piece. If the gold looks fake, then it probably is. Remember, real gold leaf/gilding was used with these pieces.

Also be sure to familiarize yourself with known patterns and shapes of Nippon ware. Some fakes could look like the real-deal, but if it’s not a known pattern, it’s probably NOT a long-lost piece of Nippon. More than likely, it’s a knockoff.

This post was put together with the help of several others. The first of which is this great eBay guide. They’ve got some fantastic pictures of fake backstamps there. Next is this indispensable post from the Myriad Trading Co’s blog. They have tons of supporting pictures and more detailed information. They’ve also got a post about the real Nippon backstamps.

Have you run across any Nippon before? I’ve got a sugar and creamer that belonged to my grandmother, and I’m fairly certain it’s real. I’ll have to snap some pictures of it and show you guys sometime!

My Weekly Score: Murano Marlin

Murano is an island off the coast of Italy, but it’s also a type of glass that is made through a different and more complex process than most other glass. Because of this, it’s highly collectible and sought after.

We came across the above piece of Murano at an auction and paid $9 for it. It’s in the shape of a swordfish. The colors are cobalt blue, yellow, and clear. It’s a fairly large piece, standing at 14” tall.

It had one flaw – that the tip of the tail on the fish had broken off. It could be sanded down and maybe even slightly reshaped if someone had the time and tools to invest in it.

Despite the obvious damage, this ended up inciting a mini-bidding war. It sold for $43.99 and although Murano can go for much more than that, it was still a great sale. There are a lot of factors that must be considered when buying or selling Murano – something I hope we can get into at a later date here on the blog.

Have you come across any Murano before? Would you like a swordfish statue, or do you prefer a different kind of animal?

Word of the Week: American Brilliant

We’ve gotten another request from a reader, this time to discuss the term “American Brilliant.” This has to do with cut glass, and was actually an era that was in existence between 1876 and 1917.

This term is in reference to what is known as the Brilliant Period. Prior to the 1870s, Europeans owned the glass making industry. Many American craftsmen were immigrants, so the American style was practically identical to those across the pond.

Over the years, and as the generations moved on and away from the home country, they started gaining their own techniques and developing their own style. By the time the mid-1870s rolled around, the Americans owned the glassmaking industry and even the Europeans couldn’t compare.

This is what is known as the American Brilliant era.

I don’t have any pictures to show you guys because we haven’t come across any of these pieces before. However, there is an incredible site dedicated to cut glass and this era in American glassmaking. Please be sure to check it out for pictures and additional information!