How to Sell: Pyrex

Pyrex is arguably the most recognized name in glassware. People collect it for the colors, the patterns, the retro look. They also collect it because they trust the brand. All of this adds up to the fact that it sells really well online!

Family Flair in the “Sea Isle” pattern, turquoise, 1950s.

Here’s some history:

Otto Schott was the first man to develop borosilicate glass, which was the pre-cursor to Pyrex. He did this in 1893 in Germany and sold it under the name “Duran.” After hearing about the borosilicate formula as a doctoral student, Eugene Sullivan (the Director of Research at Corning Glass Works) developed a similar product in 1908 called Nonex. This was a shock-resistant glass that was first used in lantern globes and battery jars.

A man named Jesse Littleton then accidentally discovered the cooking potential for this product when he gave his wife a cut down battery jar as a casserole dish. Corning removed the lead from the Nonex (good call), and developed it as a consumer product. They introduced it in 1915, during WWI, as an American alternative to the German Duran. They called it “Pyrex.”

(Interestingly, no one really knows where the word Pyrex came from. Some think it’s a mix between the Greek “pyr” (fire) and Latin “rex” (king), though the mixing of languages in order to form the word seems unlikely. (Also, does Fire King sound familiar to anyone else??) Others think it comes from the fact that a pie plate was one of the first products to be sold under this name. They often added “ex” to the end of their product names (like “Nonex”), so “pie” and “ex” were combined into the more easily manageable “Pyrex.” The truth is, we may never know the real story behind this word.)

In the 1930s and 1940s, new shapes, designs, and colors were introduced into the Pyrex line, including opaque pieces for bakeware and even a line of Flameware for stovetop use. In 1958, an internal design department was started by John B. Ward and over the subsequent years, many different artists and designers have contributed to the overall look of the line.

(All information came from this fabulous Wikipedia article.)

“Old Orchard,” brown with Fruit

If you want some more background information on your Pyrex (or Corning Ware/Corelle) Corelle Corner is a wonderful site to visit. The owner does all of her own research and relies on brochures and catalogs to find the truth behind many of the misconceptions that are floating around on the internet. She doesn’t deal in pattern guides, but she does have a lot of relevant information. This page was particularly helpful to me when trying to find more information on the “Sea Isle” set in the first picture.

Shapes:

There is an entire array of shapes that Pyrex comes in, and each one has its own function. Here are some of the more common ones:

A. Mixing Bowls are regular bowls that can be stacked inside one another. Used for mixing up anything and everything, and can also be used as a serving bowl.

B. Cinderella Mixing Bowls are exactly like regular mixing bowls, but they have handles.

This is a really old picture, so I’m not sure what the pattern name is. I’m not even sure it’s Pyrex. But this is what a set of Cinderella nesting bowls would look like.

C. Bake, Serve, and Store Casserole Dishes are used for the purposes that are inherent in their name. They come in the same size, but all vary in depth. These are great containers to move from the oven to the table to the refrigerator!

D. Casserole Dishes can either be round or oval. You can bake your meals in them and are probably the most recognizable Pyrex dishes. They come with their own lids. Unlike the BS&S dishes above, these DO vary in size.

E. Refrigerator Sets are really neat looking and are generally square or rectangular. They’re great for serving leftovers and stacking your meals in an orderly fashion inside the fridge.

G. Divided Dishes are great for holding two different kinds of vegetables, heating them up, and then serving them to your family. They’re usually oval in shape and have a pretty obvious divide between the two sides.

H. Utility Dishes and Baking Dishes are basically square or rectangular casserole dishes, but generally have a more generic use: casseroles, cakes, brownies, bread, lasagna, etc.

I. Hostess Sets were mostly used for serving and apparently there were only two types ever made. I’m sure if you could get your hands on one of them you could make some great money!

(This information came from this page on In Color Order. Check out her entire Pyrex series to learn a whole bunch of information about collecting vintage sets!)

Patterns:

The most important thing, next to condition, is the pattern name. We know from experience that if you have the maker’s name and the pattern name, that your piece should sell fairly well (unless the combination is a total dud). Pyrex is no different and in fact might even be one of the most important things to make sure you have the pattern name for.

A lot of people collect certain patterns for the sake of nostalgia – those are the patterns that their mothers or grandmothers used in their kitchens. Some patterns are going to be more rare than others – and that’s a given. But I think, in general, all Pyrex sells pretty well.

I can’t go into detail about which patterns are the best to sell because it’s always changing (but mostly because I just have no idea!). But here are some pattern guides that will really help you figure out what you have, which is the first step in trying to find out how much it is worth.

Pyrex “Snowflake.”

First up we have Pyrex Love’s pattern guide. This is my go-to source. They’ve got some great pictures of the pieces they’ve been able to identify, and an easy to use grid system that lets you fly through the page and figure out what you have. Some of the pattern names aren’t the “official” names (as they’re currently unknown), but they mark this pretty obviously.

Then we have Replacements. This isn’t the best resource, as some of the patterns that are marked unknown are actually known, while others might be mislabeled. It’s a good picture guide, though. I always follow up an “answer” from Replacements with a Google search to double check that it’s the right information.

There are tons of Pyrex guides out on the internet, but I’ve found that most of them just offer the same information as Pyrex Love. Their website has been the easiest to navigate, so I strongly recommend them.

Here are the most important things to keep in mind:

1. Pattern name. Even if you can’t name it, give it a general name that reflects the design, such as “Berries.”

2. Shape. Is it a bowl? A casserole dish? A refrigerator set?

3. Condition. Hold the piece up to the light and let it shine through the solid color. It’ll be easier to see any scratches this way. Also note any chips or cracks.

4. Date. Use some of the above resources to narrow down a date. This is always helpful.

“Butterprint” by Pyrex.

5. Color. Some colors just speak to collectors more than others – turquoise is a big 1950s item! This is always important to mention in your listing.

6. Numbers. There are numbers on the bottom of each piece. This helps to identify it, even when you’re not sure what the shape or size is. If it has the amount of liquid is holds (usually in quarts) on the bottom, make sure you mention that too.

And don’t forget that Pyrex makes more than just bakeware! Here are some other interesting pieces:

A simple brown lid. These are great to sell, as they’re often the pieces that break first!

These are snowflake napkin holders!

This is a detachable handle for a pot or pan.

So, what about you? What do you like or dislike about Pyrex? What are some of your favorite patterns or shapes? I like the ones that are bright and fun!

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How to Sell: Vintage Purses

Ah, vintage purses. I love them! There are so many styles and colors and shapes and personalities in these little guys. You can find any kind to match your outfit. Or you can find an outfit to match your purse! (There’s nothing wrong with that…)

The only problem is that there might be too many options. There are a lot of makers and styles and sometimes it can be hard to keep them all straight.

Not to worry! That’s why I’m here.

First up, let’s talk about some makers that we come across a lot:

Hmm…well, it turns out that most of our bags don’t actually have tags in them. This isn’t surprising given the time period these were made in. The one manufacturer that we come across a lot is Whiting & Davis.

This is a genuine Whiting & Davis purse! It’s one of their new designs (still mid-century, though!) and so it’s not quite worth as much as those antique mesh bags.

Whiting & Davis was founded in 1876 and was well known for their beautiful metal mesh handbags. They tend to have a Victorian feel about them, and were once (and still may be) well known amongst celebrities – which probably helped the popularity of their purses. They make more than just handbags now, but this was once their main staple and is what is usually associated with their name.

Next, let’s talk about the different types of handbags.

There are a lot of kinds of bags in this category, but here are some of the more popular ones for vintage purses:

1. Baguette – These are usually rectangular in shape and have a short handle. They fit nicely under your arm.

This is a hard-case baguette. Very 1950s!

2. Change Purse/Wristlet – Generally placed inside an actual purse, sometimes change purses are used if you just want to carry a small amount of money on you instead. They come in a whole range of varieties and styles, and are nice if you don’t want to worry about hauling around a clunky bag. A wristlet is a very tiny purse that just has a strap that slips over your wrist. Its purpose can be just like the change purse and is usually only used for the bare necessities.

This is small like a change purse, but the strap is too long for either option. It’s a metal mesh purse, but isn’t made by Whiting & Davis.

3. Clutch – These purses don’t have any straps on them, which can be a little inconvenient. However, they’re often the most simplistic and elegant looking purses and I usually associate them with evening gowns and the red carpet.

A perfectly plum clutch!

4. Evening Bag – This is less about the shape of the purse and more about the style. Clutches and baguettes are generally used as evening purses. What’s more important here is the glitz and glamour that the bag imbues.

Shiny and gold, perfect for making your evening gown complete!

Lastly, let’s look at how we should buy and sell them.

This part is pretty easy. I’ve found that just about any type of purse sells. Condition is the most important factor here. After that, look for something that just screams “retro.” Those distinctive styles will sell better than others.

Typical rules apply to selling vintage purses – list the condition, the colors, the makers, etc. Be sure to mention what decade you think the purse is from, as buyers will probably be looking for a certain style from a certain era. If you’re not sure, just guess – but state that you aren’t 100% positive.

In the end, the purse will choose the buyer. As long as you have lots of clear pictures and an in-depth description, you should do just fine!

How to Sell: Stuff

That’s right, stuff. This is a guide for how to sell all that random “junk” you might otherwise throw out. It won’t bring you loads of money, but you’d be surprised at what sells!

A. Egg Cartons – A lot of farmers buy these online because they’re cheaper. We usually save up a stack of between 20 and 30 and then list them for a couple of dollars. You won’t get a whole lot out of them, but they WILL sell. We usually make sure we tell the buyers what size eggs they held, how many dozen, and what they’re made out of. It’s also important to note that they’ll have been used and have writing on them.

B. Toilet Paper Rolls – Yep, you read that right. Toilet paper rolls are something we just got into and they’re doing great! We collect the empty toilet paper rolls and when we have a hundred, we throw them in a box and list them online. So far, we’ve sold each listing for $17.99 (shipping included). Not too bad for something you’d otherwise throw in the trash! For this one, you want to make sure to say whether or not they’re “clean” (ie. if they have toilet paper still stuck on them or not). It’s not a big deal if they do still, as our lots usually have about half clean and half not – they still sell! These are good for crafts for kids and adults alike. Check out this beautiful creation made from toilet paper rolls. Pretty fancy, eh?

C. Feathers – This is for those who own domestic birds. We have six birds here and each one is a different kind – a Blue Front Amazon, an African Grey, a Sun Conure, an Umbrella Cockatoo, a Goffin Cockatoo, and a Cockatiel. Each one has unique and beautiful feathers – which are perfect for fly tying and crafts! When you list these online (and especially on eBay) it’s important to note that the feathers came from healthy domestic animals and that they were collected naturally. You should also note that they are not clean. (I wouldn’t recommend selling feathers from wild birds online, as you have NO idea what diseases they could possibly have. The exception to this is a lot from an estate sale, where you have no idea where they came from or how old they really are.)

No, this is not a real pine cone, but it was the only picture I had. Brass cuckoo clock weights also sell well.

D. Pine Cones/Leaves/Nuts – There are a lot of people who enjoy using natural substances as a part of their crafts. We live on the East Coast in NY, so we have some trees that are unique to this region. Someone in California might want to add leaves or nuts or pine cones to their art that they don’t have out their way. In comes an eBay search where, hopefully, you’ll turn up! I’d suggest listing where you got the various items, what trees or plants they’re from, and the fact that they’re not clean in anyway (that’s just to cover your own butt). Crafters generally like to use the real deal, so this will be worth your time in collecting them!

E. Tobacco Papers – If you know someone who is a smoker and buys loose tobacco so they can roll their own cigarettes, you’ll notice that there’s often a package or two of tobacco papers that comes with the can. If you collect these over time, you can sell them as a lot and get some of your money back!

These products probably aren’t something that you can make a living off of, but they’ll help bring in some extra income. And, most of the time, the only resources you need to put into collecting them is your time, which means there’s more profit in it for you!

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!

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!)

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!

My Weekly Score: Trifari Kunio Matsumoto Necklace & Earrings Set

I touched on this set briefly when I explained how we buy and sell costume jewelry, but I wanted to go more in depth with it because it is such a beautiful pair.

First of all, we got a huge group of costume jewelry from our favorite auction house. There were about 200 pieces there and, when we calculated it out, we figured we got each piece for right around $1. That’s a fabulous deal!

I spotted the necklace first. Then, as I was digging through the rest of the jewelry, I spotted the matching earrings! Better yet, all three pieces were from Trifari. Trifari is a great name for costume jewelry, and one of the top names that is selling on eBay right now. I noticed that there was something else written below the maker’s mark, but I couldn’t quite make it out. I took pictures of the set and put it aside to list later.

When I sat down to list the set, I was determined to figure out what that squiggly mark below “Trifari” actually said. Armed with a loupe and Google, I finally made it out. It said “Kunio Matsumoto.” Hmm. That sounded important.

Turns out it was pretty important. Kunio Matsumoto is an artist and jewelry designer that worked for Trifari sometime in the 1970’s. Every once in a while the artists stamped certain designs with their signature – which makes them a whole lot more valuable! I’ve never come across a piece like this before, and haven’t found a signature from another artist since, but we recently got a pair of earrings in with Matsumoto’s name on them. I wish we had the whole set! Either way, it’s a neat look at who actually designed and created these stunning pieces.

Oh, right, and I suppose you want to know what this little beauty sold for! Well, we can figure we bought the necklace and earrings for $2 combined. I had high hopes for the set, so I put it up for $100…and it sold for a little over $180! It fetched a great price, but I’m even more excited that it got to go to a good home to be worn by someone who appreciates the beauty of the set.