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: Emmons & Sarah Coventry Book by Schiffer

Today I’m going to bring you a resource guide unlike the previous ones we’ve had. I usually focus on websites (particularly free ones!) that can help both collectors and sellers find what they’re looking for. On this fine Monday, however, I bring to you…this:

It’s a book! How archaic. How simple. How…awesome!

Books are a great resource when it comes to buying and selling antiques and collectibles. One of the drawbacks is that they often go out of date fairly quickly and will need to be updated. It’s also hard to lug them around and if you’re anything like us, you can quickly gain a library’s worth of them.

But, on the plus side, books are reliable. Anyone on the internet can slap together a website these days and pretend that they’re an expert. But books like this one are usually written by a specialist and distributed through a publishing house with a solid reputation for quality. Although mistakes are bound to be made, you can pretty much guarantee that the information within its pages is correct.

This particular book is one we just recently came across. As you probably know by now, my favorite designer of costume jewelry is Sarah Coventry. We have some general books on costume jewelry, but since we deal with a few designers more frequently than others, I thought it’d be worth the investment to go ahead and purchase a book about a more specific topic. (And, luckily, The Wallet agreed.)

This book is titled Emmons & Sarah Coventry Jewelry Fashion Show, by Deborah A. Robinson. It’s a “Schiffer book for designers and collectors, with price guide.” The first part of the book deals with Emmons jewelry, which was the sister company to Sarah Coventry. This section gives a history of the company, examples of all different kinds of jewelry, and pages from catalogs.

The next section is all about Sarah Coventry. You can find more history here, more examples, and more catalog pages. Later sections also deal in international jewelry, pieces from the 1980s and 1990s, and Home Shopping Network jewelry. Finally, you can find a glossary, bibliography, and an index.

There are three particular things I like about this book:

Pictures

This book is just full of so many great pictures. As I always say in our Word of the Week posts, a description or a definition is a great thing…but pictures are even better. Nothing compares to actually being able to look at a piece of jewelry and find its match within a book. All doubt is removed and you know you’ve found the right item.

There are pictures on nearly every page here, and probably more images of jewelry than there are words. This isn’t a drawback, however – it’s an asset! They’ve also set it up so that bunches of similar jewelry (for example, you can find cameo necklaces on page 81) are all on the same page. It makes searching for something really specific even easier!

Names/Description

By far my favorite thing about this book are the names and descriptions that are provided to just about every piece of jewelry. If you flip to page 74, there’s a large picture of several pairs of earrings on a bright pink display. Below this is a simple list of each earring. It gives the name of the piece and a nice description of what it looks like, plus what the maker’s mark looks like, when it was made, and roughly what it’s worth.

This is extremely helpful to sellers – not for the price range (which I only use as a VERY loose estimation of value), but for the name and the dates. These two snippets of information are probably more important than your description (as long as you have pictures!) because certain buyers are looking for specific pieces – either by name or by decade. These are excellent key words to use in your listing title.

Final pages

Not a lot of people utilize the last section of a book – the one filled with glossaries, indexes, and bibliographies. But this can sometimes be even more useful than the content of a book. This particular volume does have a glossary, which is great if you’re still learning the terms associated with costume jewelry. It also has an index, which is a quick way of looking up particular pieces of jewelry or styles.

But – and perhaps this is the most underutilized part – the bibliography is often ignored. I love bibliographies! They’re great for following up with additional reading on a subject, or broadening your knowledge on a more general topic. For example, the bibliography in this book lists others that are about Emmons and Sarah Coventry, but also about collectible jewelry in general. No one book can hold all the information relevant to a topic, so it’s important to follow the trail – if you like the book you’re holding, then chances are you’ll like its source material as well.

What book do you have in your library that you couldn’t live without? Have you ever used these Schiffer books before?

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!

Resource Guide: Ddoty’s Carnival Glass

Our primary role at ItsAllOurVault is that of a seller. However, being in the business of antiques and collectibles is addicting. Soon you become a buyer (“Oh, I like this, I think I’ll keep it!”), and then a collector (“I have no use for this, but they match that set of glasses I have at home!”).

I’ve said this time and time again, but it’s because it’s important: Know a little bit of everything. The things you come across aren’t always going to be familiar. Their uses aren’t always going to be obvious. Their pattern names are always going to be clear. But once you do research, those details start to stick with you. That information is great to have in your arsenal, no matter which of those three roles you fill most often.

We’ve come across a lot of great resources. And a lot of useless ones too. This new series, “Resource Guide,” is going to feature one book or website that we find most useful. I’ll tell you how to navigate the source, what we use it for most often, and why I love it so much. You’ll be able to find all of the links I talk about in these posts to the left, on the navigation bar under the “Resource Database” link. I’ve already provided a quick breakdown of each one over there, so this will be a more in depth discussion.

And, as always, if you have any questions, comments, or new resources that you use frequently, please share the wealth! We can all benefit from each other’s experiences and knowledge.

The first resource I’d like to talk about today is David Doty’s Carnival Glass website. You might remember this one from when I talked about it in our How to Sell: Carnival Glass post.

Here’s a screenshot of what the site looks like when you first happen upon it:

It seems a little chaotic at first, but it’s actually extremely well organized. I’d suggest taking the time to explore each link and see what kind of information pertains to you and what would be the most helpful. There’s a lot of information here and it can be a little overwhelming. I’ll show you the sections that we use most often and you can start there.

Pictured above, you’ll notice one section is blocked off in red. This is, by far, the most important section on the site. This is Mr. Doty’s index. He has patterns, shapes, motifs, and makers all listed out for your convenience.

The first section contains a list of over 1,100 patterns. Wow! In order to find your way through here, you’ll have to know the name of your pattern. But if you know that, then you can click on the link to find examples, a description of the pattern, and perhaps some background information on its worth.

The second section is the index of shapes. This serves a dual purpose. Not only can you find the name of the item you may have (like “epergnes” for a flower/fruit holder), but you can also track down the pattern name this way as well. It helps if you know what the design is called, but it’s not necessary. It might just take a little extra time and effort on your part.

The third section is by far probably the most useful for when you’re trying to find a name for our pattern. This is the index of motifs. Just look at the theme of your piece: does it have roses on it? Hearts? Fish? Find the appropriate list and click on the motif’s name. You’ll be taken to a page that gives pictures of each related pattern, along with the name below. Once you find your pattern, click on it, and you’ll be taken to the page for that particular design.

Lastly, we have the index of makers. This is helpful for a few reasons, too. If you know the maker, but don’t know the pattern name, you can see a list of all the designs that company made. Just click down through (you’ll be taken to the pattern’s index page) until you find what you’re looking for. This is also particularly helpful if you’re a collector that wants all the pieces from one maker or maybe one piece from each. He’s also got a page for carnival glass that was made by non-U.S. companies.

Moving out of that main section of the site, there are a few more links that I like to frequent. First we have the maker’s marks page. It’s very important – as a buyer, seller, and/or collector – to recognize the different marks that different companies stamp their carnival glass with. Pieces may not always be stamped, but when they are, it is always extremely helpful to know right off the top of your head who made it. You can study the various marks on this page. He provides extremely clear, close-up shots of each one.

We also have the “about colors” link here. This is probably my favorite one to visit. It gives a list of just a fraction of the colors that were produced – the site owner states there were over 50! In addition, he warns that differences in glass between one batch and another made it so that the colors weren’t often exactly the same. You can click on the various colors he has listed here, and just marvel at the beauty before you.

Lastly, we have a section on fakes. This is extremely important to sellers and collectors alike, because there are certain pieces that have been reproduced to intentionally trick buyers. These are newer pieces that look like older pieces. You can click on the patterns to learn more about the forgeries and how to tell the difference between the real ones and the fake ones.

As you can tell from the screenshots, there are a number of other thinks that I didn’t even get into. You can play a game to test your knowledge, look at price trends, and even check out pictures of some super rare pieces.

Have you checked out this site before? If not, are you interested in it now? How often do you come across carnival glass in your travels?