Resource Guide: Google

There are tons of fancy books and subscriptions for websites that you can purchase, but never take for granted the immense power that Google has for sellers and collectors alike.

Google (or any decent search engine for that matter) can search the internet in a matter of seconds, bringing up information you didn’t even know you wanted to know.

That power is right at your fingertips, and the best part is that Google is extremely simple and easy to use (also, free!). I use it in a few different ways when I’m trying to research an item I know nothing about: 1. text-based search, 2. picture-based search, and 3. Google shopping

1. Text-based Search

This is the no brainer. You simply go to Google.com and type in what it is you’re looking for. But there are tons of tricks and shortcuts you can take to really maximize your results and have the search engine narrow in on exactly what you’re looking for.

First up, is the auto-complete tool that Google uses when you start to type a word into the search box. If you can only make out the first few letters or first few words of a mark on the bottom of a vase (for example), then you might be able to figure out what the rest of it says by looking at your different options here. This is also nice because you can see what phrases are being searched for the most. (ie. If you type in “costume jewelry,” the first thing that auto-completes is “rings” and then two down from that is “necklace.” Therefore, we can assume that more people are looking for rings than necklaces, and you can begin to narrow down your buying this way, if you want.)

Google is an extremely intelligent tool. If you type in a wrong word, it knows to fix it for you. If you type in one version of a word, but it sees another version popping up quite a bit in association with your other search terms, it will show you results for both. You can also type in the first part of a word and end it with an asterisk (*). This will tell Google that you know what root word you want to search for, but you’re unsure of the ending part. It’ll bring up ALL the results of that word for you.

Sometimes when you’re typing a phrase into Google that can have more than one meaning, you’ll get skewed search results. (Google is smart, but not THAT smart. It can’t read minds!) If you see a certain term popping up a lot that you want to make sure doesn’t influence your search results, you can simply put a hyphen in front of it (without a space in between) and Google will know not to include that word – and therefore those results – in what you’re searching for.

It’s also important to keep in mind that you need to search with strong keywords. Something really specific to what you’re looking for. This can be difficult if you don’t know what you have, but not impossible. Anything is relevant: shapes, colors, marks, themes, sizes, etc. Sometimes it’s best to search with broad keywords, while other times it’s beneficial to search with more specific ones. It really depends on what you’re looking for and how many other results you’ll have to wade through to find it. Sometimes searching like this is simply a game of trial and error.

2. Picture-based Search

Google has a new tool now that’s still in its early stages, but could potentially become an extremely useful one for sellers. Did you know that if you drag and drop a picture from your desktop into the search bar, Google will try to find images similar to yours? Then you can just backtrack to figure out what it is!

Just go to Google and click on the image search. In the search bar, there will be a little picture of a camera to the right. Click on this and drag and drop a picture of whatever it is you’re looking for. Make sure the picture is nice and close, and that there aren’t too many other things in the background (or else Google will get confused).

The only problem with this is that it doesn’t always work. As the technology becomes more advanced, I’m sure we’ll sit back one day and say, “Remember how we used to do this by typing words into the search box?” Just be patient with it and know that it isn’t always going to give you what you need. I tend to use this as a last resort.

3. Google Shopping

The last great way to use Google is to use the shopping feature. You can find this option under the “more” tab at the top. It’s best used when you already know what you have. Just type it in and hit enter. Google will bring up listings of this item all across the internet. It’s nice because you can compare prices (either to buy the cheapest one or to know the average sale price) from multiple sources, and not just one place (like you would if you were using the completed listings option on eBay).

So, there you have it. That’s Google in a nutshell. Google is great for a lot of different things, but this is how I mainly use it when I’m searching for items. If you’ve got questions or additional tips, hit up the comments section below!

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Resource Guide: Illusion Jewels

I’ve got another resource guide for you guys today and another wonderful site to add to your bookmarks. If you’re as into costume jewelry as we are, then you’re going to love Illusion Jewels as much as we do!

Illusion Jewels is a website where you can buy all sorts of jewelry, but it’s also a great place to do some research. That’s what I’m going to discuss today, but please take some time and look around the website on your own – they’ve got a lot of wonderful things to offer.

The part of the site that we use most often would have to do with maker’s marks. Here’s what you see as soon as you click on that link:

Click to enlarge.

The best part about this site is that it’s really simple to use and very informative. No fluff here! At the bottom of that image you’ll see a section with all the letters of the alphabet. This is what you’ll click on to find the specific mark that you’re looking for. Say, for instance, you want to look at all the marks that start with “A” – just click the letter, then scroll down and you’ll see this:

Click to enlarge.

This is a list of each maker under that letter, in alphabetical order. Each one has a bold heading with information and pictures underneath. In some cases it’ll tell you which marks go with which dates and there may even be some history there as well.

So, how do we use this site? It’s most helpful when you know what the maker’s mark says. For instance, if it says “Deltah” on it, I need only to click on the letter “D” and ctrl+f the word in order to find it in the list. (That’s the fast way. You can, of course, just scroll down through until you find it since it is alphabetized.) There I will find information about when the company was established, a few pictures of the hang tags that were often used, some info about dates, and even a mini-timeline .

Sometime you can still use the site even if you can’t quite make out the mark. If you know what it starts with, that’s the most important part. They don’t have a search function, unfortunately, so a lot of searching must be done “by hand” (computer mouse?) in order to find what you’re looking for. You can always Google the mark, then come back here for the information once you know who made it.

And that’s about it. Like I said, this is a very simple, but very useful site. It’s taught me a lot about costume jewelry and this is definitely my go-to site. I hope it’s as useful for you as it is for me!

What’s your go-to site for research about costume jewelry?

Resource Guide: Replacements

Replacements.com is an extremely helpful website. We mostly use it to find the pattern names of items or to figure out what a specific piece is called if it’s specialized and not in your typical lineup. This site has a lot of information stored within its pages, so just like with the last resource guide I did on Ddoty’s Carnival Glass website, I’ll show you the most helpful sections.

When you first go to Replacements, this is the screen that you’ll see:

These screenshots didn’t come out very well this time around for some reason. You can click on the picture for a BIG (and clear) version.

The home page has some history of the site and some links that you might want to check out. The site is mainly used by people who have a dinnerware set that they need replacement pieces for. Replacements is actually a warehouse that stores (or has contacts who have) all sorts of different sets. Although it can be a bit pricey, sometimes this is the best way to find that long-forgotten piece of Aunt Betty’s Christmas dinner plates that you broke when you were 12.

Now, look up at the top left-hand corner of the site:

Here you’ll see the different categories that the website provides. You can click through these to get a feel for what the site holds, but the easiest way to find what you’re looking for is to use the search box in the upper right-hand corner.

We got a set of dishes in the other day. They’re by Dansk and are in the “Nordic Garden” pattern. (You might have seen a picture of them when I posted about them on our Facebook page.) For the purposes of this search, however, I’m just going to pretend that I don’t know the pattern name. Now, it takes a little bit of practice to know what the typical terms used to describe some of the patterns are, but if you keep trying different synonyms, you’ll find what you’re looking for eventually.

For this search, I knew what the terms were, so I just plugged in “Dansk Lattice Flowers” and it brought up the correct pattern. (I’ll get to how I knew what to put in the search in a minute.) Here’s what the page looks like:

The first box you see, at the top, shows you what your search terms were. You can adjust your search right here if it doesn’t bring up what you’re looking for the first time around.

The box all the way to the left gives you a list of items to better narrow down your search. I especially like using this for flatware. If I put in the term “Oneida,” I get almost 46,000 results. If I narrow that down to “Oneida Sterling Floral,” it cuts the result to 45. However, that’s still five pages to scroll through – not a lot, but we can do much better. Lastly, say it’s the demitasse spoon that I have in my hands. I’ll click on that and it’ll give me a single result – “Afterglow” by Oneida. You won’t always come up with a single result, but it’ll be much easier going through ten pictures instead of ten thousand!

The box directly to the right of this one is probably the most important section on this page. The link at the top of it tells you who the maker is (Dansk China) and what the pattern name is (Nordic Garden). If you click on it, it takes you to the pattern’s page (we’ll get there in a second). Below that is the description of the piece. This is how I knew which search terms to choose. Note here that they used the word “flowers” to describe this pattern. However, some other patterns with flowers on them will be described as “floral,” which is why you have to sort of guess a few times until you end up finding the right listing. The description is also nice if you can’t see the details of the picture and, for example, want to know at a quick glance if the color is blue or green. It won’t always be listed, but it does help.

Below that is the name of the piece – this one being the 13” chop plate and the one below that being the 56oz pitcher. This is helpful when you’re looking for one specific piece. Ignore the next two lines – they’re specifically geared for Replacements’ purposes (although you might need these if you plan on ordering from them). The last line shows the price. In my opinion, this is not useful to buyers or sellers. I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll always find it cheaper somewhere else on the web. I find that Replacements is generally about twice as expensive as a typical eBay listing.

The last box in this section is around the picture. Pictures are helpful for the obvious reasons, and it’s nice to be able to scroll down the page and quickly find what you’re looking for.

Two very important notes:

1. Replacements does not have every single pattern or piece listed. It’s an excellent catalog, but it is in no way complete.

2. Not all listings will have a picture, which is another reason why the description is helpful.

If you click into the first listing there (the one for the chop plate), you’ll come to this page:

This page lists all of the pieces that they know of that are in this specific pattern. Here’s a close up:

Look at the first box. The top line tells you the item number (again this is Replacements’ item number and is pretty useless unless you want to order from them) and the years that the pattern was produced. The dates won’t always be there, but it’s really helpful when they are. I’ve caught myself a few times calling a piece “vintage” when in reality it’s a lot newer than that – this part of the website it really useful.

The next two lines are a repeat of what was on the previous page – the manufacturer/pattern name and the description.

The next box says, “Click Here for Gallery of Available Images on this Page.” If you click on this link, it’ll open up a box with pictures of each item in this pattern that has an image uploaded to the page. This is super helpful if you don’t know the name of what you have and would rather search by image than try to figure it out by reading through the titles of each piece. Here’s what the pop up window looks like:

There are often several pages, so make sure you look through them all. Also be aware that some images are simply illustrations, not actually photographs, which aren’t really helpful. Most of the time, though, it should have what you’re looking for!

The last red box on this page is around the words “Rim Soup Bowl.” This is the piece that I was initially looking for, and this is the spot that will give me some information about it. You can ignore the first two columns in this line because they’re strictly for Replacements buyers. The next column tells us the name of the piece. You can also click on this to bring up a picture of what you’re looking for, just to make sure it’s the same thing.

Perfect match!

The last column you see here shows the size of the piece (in inches). This is especially helpful when you have two pieces that are similar (say, a bread and butter dish and a salad plate), that have the same exact pattern. You won’t be able to tell from the picture which is which, so it’s nice to have these measurements for backup. To the right of this you’ll be able to read some short notes, the price Replacements has this set at, and a way to order the pieces.

There you have it! Replacements is an extremely in-depth site. They have a lot of information on it that we don’t even touch, so make sure you spend some time exploring it and making it work for you. We find this site especially helpful when we know the manufacturer of the piece, but not the pattern. Sometimes the search can become lengthy and tedious, but it’s always worth it when you finally discover the name of what you’re looking for!

Have you ever used Replacements before? Ordered from them? Have you ever experienced that euphoria that comes with finally discovering the name of an unknown pattern? If you have any questions, or need additional help/tips, just ask in the comments below!