Sea shells – the perfect collectible
for sellers who don’t mind travelling to buy
After decades of experience, I thought there was very little left for me to learn about buying and selling collectibles, until, that is, I ventured into my local auction salesroom last Saturday.
That’s when and where I discovered most of the walls and shelves, table tops and display cabinets packed with white, cream and sandy coloured objects.
Some featured swirls and some had long trumpets… and several of those items were estimated to sell for hundreds and possibly thousands of pounds.
Those items are shells, the sort of things you pick up on the beach. And not quite the sort of thing I ever thought of as collectable objects.
I was wrong, of course, as you’ll see from these recent high-finishing price sales on eBay…
Pleurotamaria Rumphii Entemnotrochus Taiwan seashell sold for the US dollar equivalent of £1,313.01
No, I have no idea what those words mean either but very soon I’ll tell you where to locate high frequency search terms and definitions to help you buy and sell and professionally describe similar high price items on eBay.
Cypraea Teramachii 56.5 mm rare attracted a best offer around £600
Larger shells seem to attract among the highest prices.
Cypraea Mauritiana Praslin Seycehelles 83mm Gem Ultraheavy Special went for just under £500
Notice that word ‘Cypraea’ appearing in the last two listings, suggesting a word you should look out for in listings for shells offered outside of eBay, or as a potential arbitrage deal on eBay. Such a name may easily spelled incorrectly, or present other reasons for attracting few bidders.
For the record, ‘Cypraea’ appeared several more times among recent eBay high finishing price sales.
It refers to ‘… a genus of medium-sized to large sea snails or cowries, marine gastropod mollusks in the family Cypraeidae, the cowries,’ according to Wikipedia.
Now you might think if someone who has been traipsing round auction salesrooms for four or more decades hasn’t seen them before that shells are the kind of items that rarely come up for sale… So what’s the use of me telling you more about them today?
The reason is, although until a few days ago I have never seen sizeable collections of sea shells appearing in local auction salesrooms, I can only put that down to the fact I don’t travel far to buy – no more than twenty miles or so – covering three different auction salesrooms. Definitely not a true representation of the true buying potential of shells with collectors all over the world.
To prove it, when I keyed ‘shells’ into the search box at the-saleroom.com – that’s where you keep up-to-date with forthcoming auction sales – I found twenty auction salesrooms in the UK offering numerous lots of shells in the next few weeks. Some lots contained ten or more shells. So I really do think this is the perfect collectible for sellers who don’t mind travelling to buy.
There is more to know about buying and selling shells for profit than can be covered in my weekly eletter, but what you read today will help you get started looking for shells with potential to make upwards of £100 profit on every purchase. In a month or two I’ll tell you more about this high profit product in a full-length article in our monthly eBay Confidential newsletter.
By the way, if you’re not already a subscriber to our monthly publication (and why not?), you can take out a risk-free trial as well as downloading several valuable reports free of charge by signing up at: canonburypublishing.com/ec.
Back to our subject of the day, collectable shells, listed on eBay UK under: Collectables > Rocks / Fossils / Minerals > Shells.
Here are a few things to know in preparation for entering this product area:
- Some amazing low prices are possible at auctions away from the beaten track, attracting few dealers and specialist collectors. The lowest prices come at auction salesrooms that don’t sell online or whose sales catalogues are uploaded a few days before the sale, leaving insufficient time for search engines to index catalogue and contents.
- Shells present a unique form of arbitrage, wherein items are bought in one country where collectors for a specific shell are few or supply is plentiful and they are resold on another country’s eBay site where bidders and collectors predominate. As an example, you could obtain shells that are exclusive to British beaches – gather them yourself or buy them on eBay UK or direct from collectors – and sell them on overseas eBay sites.
- There’s scope for you to become a trading assistant and offer to sell duplicate and surplus shells, even complete collections for people you meet at shell collectors’ clubs or from items for sale and items wanted advertisements in collectors’ magazines.
- Some countries place specific restrictions on gathering and collecting shells, making it a good idea to avoid buying and selling shells in those locations. It’s also considered very bad form to gather and collect or trade in shells housing live creatures. Learn more about this here and here.
- According to the online encyclopaedia, the rarest, most valuable and most beautiful shells are those found in the sea, particularly in the tropical and subtropical waters of the Indo-Pacific, Caribbean, and Mediterranean regions. A great resource to help you understand more about shell collecting in general as well as those popular and often high priced Cypraeidae types featuring among eBay’s recent highest finishing prices paid for shells.
- ‘Conchology’ is a posh term describing the study of shells and sometimes the collecting interest. Some purists dislike the term used to describe the collecting interest, so you should use the term sparingly – or not at all – in your eBay listings.
- Shells can be sold on many different marketplaces, including eBay, Amazon and Etsy. List the same item on all three sites and numerous others and you’ll enjoy faster turnover – but when an items sells remember to remove its listing from all other sites or you’ll incur poor feedback for selling products you can’t deliver.
- There’s another major benefit to selling shells, that being some enthusiasts buy numerous different products featuring shells, such as vintage postcards, collectors’ stamps, telephone cards, jewellery and many other items. So with one sale under your belt, a shell collector might be a regular buyer for numerous related items.
Here are some recent eBay finishing prices to whet your appetite for add-on sales:
Congo Islands Nature Shells sold for £60.83.
Cayman Islands 1935 KGV Palm Trees & Conch Shells 10/- went for £50.47
KGV refers to King George V and 1935 was the King’s Silver Jubilee year.
Cocos (Keeling) Shells went for £48.40.
14k Pink Conch Shell Cameo of Madonna Necklace sold for £255.13
Shells were often carved as cameos and placed in rings, necklaces, brooches and other popular pieces.
- You’ll find a comprehensive introduction to various types of shell at conchologistsofamerica.org.
For an incredible array of tips for finding and buying shells, cleaning and storing them, and clubs and societies offering advice and help to identify your acquisitions, visit conchology.be.
Take a look at the British Shell Collectors’ Club site. It’s an amazing website packed with articles to help gather your own shells locally or worldwide.
Find lots of information to help you identify specific shells as well as interpret abbreviations and specialist terms used by shell experts and collectors at seashells.org and seashell-collector.com.
Last But Not Least
Do you remember last week I promised a free copy of my updated dropshipping report? Well you can download it now, at the link here: ‘How to Arrange Exclusive Dropshipping Deals on eBay‘!