Those of you receiving my monthly print newsletter eBay Confidential will know my latest long labour of love is one of identifying 101 collectibles that rarely, if ever, go unsold on eBay.
You’ll have read some of my ideas for best-selling collectibles in our March, 2016 issue, and you’ll know I promised a free report listing 101 such collectibles with our April issue.
By the way, if you’re not already a subscriber and you’d like to receive that free report, you can take out a risk-free trial to our monthly newsletter here.
Now let me give you a few more ideas to show what’s involved, but bear in mind each collectible type will be covered in more detail in my free report, along with pictures of really high-priced recent sales on eBay.
You’ll read about:
1. Victorian in memoriam cards commemorating famous and infamous people and tragedies. In memoriam cards were produced to inform people about a death and where and when the funeral would take place.
In Victorian times they would comprise either a single piece of card, usually printed both sides, or a piece of card folded into four with a death-related image on the front, sometimes with an image of the deceased, and with printing on the other three sides.
The majority of cards would be flat printed and almost always have black borders and black and silver coloured decorations. A minority of cards would have intricate lace cut-out borders or centres, called ‘filigree’, and sometimes with heavily embossed images and patterns.
But consider that people in Victorian times lived much shorter lives than we do today and some families lost several children before school age, and you’ll understand why countless in memoriam cards were produced in pre-1900 times.
In itself that means a great many early in memoriam cards will remain in good condition today and the vast majority will be next to worthless.
Some do, however, fetch very high prices, because they:
- Feature a topographical area, for which few named-place collectibles were created, like small villages and outlying districts without rail and tram links and therefore very little visitor potential in Victorian times. Today, named-place topographical collectibles like postcards and photographs can fetch very high prices on eBay, purely because they are rare, and the same goes for in memoriam cards for people dying or being buried in those small locations.
- Mark a major tragedy, preferably one that’s collectable in its own right, and in which case a bidding war might take place between people wanting the in memoriam card per se, or because it marks a specific type of tragedy, such as a shipping or mining disaster, or because it relates to one of those popular topographical areas mentioned earlier.
- Commemorates the death of a famous person, such as Queen Victoria, Earl Haig or other eminent military person, the captain on the Titanic, Charles Dickens and other well-known authors, etc.
- Denotes a memorable event with heavy political or military interest, such as the Easter Uprising in 1916 and the death of suffragette Emily Wilding Davison, who stepped in front of the king’s horse at the Epsom Derby in 1913.
Note: In almost all cases, the alternative collecting interest on an in memoriam card, such as royalty, the Titanic disaster, or female suffrage, accounts for the majority of bidders and highest finishing prices.
2. Almost any bundled collectible. One secret to starting a bidding war on eBay is to offer several items together, each of which appeals to a different type of collector, such as ten cigarette cards from ten different sets, five in memoriam cards for different topographical areas, and three press photographs representing very different subjects.
The idea is to make each item in a bundle collectable in its own right and for each to appeal to an altogether different collecting interest, in which case someone wanting just one of the items in your bundle must buy all of them.
Choose contents carefully and if you have ten items, for example, that should attract at least one bidder for each of those ten subject areas, possibly more. So with each item, you are adding to your bidder and buyer base, and increasing profits at every stage.
There are a few possible problems to contemplate: one being mentioning each subject area in the title for your separate bundles, as well as deciding which product listing category to use for each listing.
As far as choice of category is concerned, you could bundle items from the same collecting area, such as all postcards, all stamps, all vintage beads, and so on, and then differentiate the contents in your title.
Alternatively, use ‘other’ as your product sub-category within an overall collectibles area. Like this: Collectables > Advertising > Other Advertising.
Or use the following in the absence of any category marked ‘other’ in your chosen collecting area: Collectables > Other Collectables > Vintage / Retro. (Note that eBay UK uses ‘collectables’, while the .com site uses ‘collectibles’ – the latter being the widely accepted correct version.)
If potential profits are high you could use two different product listing categories.
Idea: Bundle items according to a theme, such as circus, boxer dogs, magic, and then use the appropriate subject-specific listing category – such as the following, for example, where you bundle stamps, postcards and cigarette cards all featuring circus and fairground images: Collectables > Memorabilia > Circus/Fairground
3. Costume jewellery. ‘Costume’ describes jewellery made with inexpensive materials and imitation gems: it’s one of the most prolific product types selling in bulk at flea markets and collectors fairs, and also in online and offline auction salerooms.
At any of those events you can buy pieces of jewellery for pennies and resell them at £5 to £10 or more on eBay, especially with some element added to make the item appeal to a wider audience.
Using a technique called ‘altered art’, many of eBay’s most successful sellers incorporate a separate collecting theme onto a piece of costume jewellery, such as a watch and rabbit charm to interest collectors of Alice in Wonderland memorabilia, or a dog breed charm to interest dog lovers, and much more besides.
Turn that idea on its head by taking a recently manufactured item appealing to a popular collecting trend, such as a charm made from a modern pendant-backing with resin dome over a collectable subject-specific image, and then add costume jewellery to turn the piece into an attractive keyring or bracelet or dangle charm.
Among the most popular add-on subjects to turn an ordinary looking piece of costume jewellery into a must-have collectible are: Alice in Wonderland, Sherlock Holmes, Louis Wain cats, crows (for their Edgar Allan Poe interest), famous artists like Van Gogh and Turner, well-known landmarks, famous events (Nelson and Waterloo, the Titanic disaster), and much more besides.
Tip: Search for ‘altered art’ on Google and then choose ‘images’ and you will find hundreds of ideas to get your own creative juices flowing. Add ‘OOAK’ (one-of-a-kind) to your eBay and other-site listing titles, meaning a design will never be copied, and you can charge £30 or £40 for some designs. Key ‘altered art charm’ into eBay’s search engine to prove the point.
Another idea: Simply dismantle broken and damaged jewellery and sell beads and other components in bundles for craftworkers to use in their own creations. Add a label giving your eBay ID and expect buyers to return for more lots of unusual and sometimes unique materials.
Those are just three ideas for collectibles for you to obtain and list and almost always make money from.