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!)