Sunday, August 12, 2012

Buying and Selling

Cellini Craft pitcher
There's no cure for the collecting fever. Even in the midst of downloading my own collection, I've been unable to resist the lure of adding a few items. First, a pitcher appeared - one I had long admired. Then an ice tub went up for sale. Made by Continental, it matches my favorite salad bowl and a punch set that I love. It adapts very well to other uses -I ignored  its original use and filled it with cantaloupe slices for dinner last night. I expect melon chunks would be even better.

Finally, I was smitten by a modern - day vase by Wendell August.  Of course I can rationalize my purchases by telling myself that getting rid of over 8o pieces and buying only three, is making a tremendous inroad on reducing the size of my collection, so I deserve a little pleasure. Right?

Since the first of June I've been totally involved with aluminum - sorting through my stacks, deciding what to sell, photographing it for a permanent record and for selling on eBay and then coping with the intricacies  of listing on eBay's auction. And I've learned a lot.

First, it ain't easy! Photographing different views. Polishing and removing old stuck-on price tags. Filling in the required forms without mistakes. Including measurements and answering bidders questions. And it definitely is not profitable for those of us who accumulated  our collections during the high-priced days of the '90s. If you must download just grit your teeth and do it.

On the plus side is a few bare shelves, meeting other collectors, and watching the strange things that happen in the pricing field, and seeing motifs and designs that are new to me. There is no end the the unusual things that appear on eBay.

A few tips for those who are starting their collections: Keep an accurate inventory with maker, size and cost. Remove tags -after a few years in storage, some types are very difficult to remove. Clear thoroughly to prevent damage that might occur.

For those of us who didn't do those things, there are various helps such are solvents that remove tags, soaking in hot water or simply wetting and using a dash of detergent. SOS pads are permissible if you plan to follow with fine steel wool (#0000) and an aluminum polish. Dirty items are not good sellers!

Now to touch upon the ever-present question of prices. As the old saying goes, "they are worth whatever someone is willing to pay."  Besides that, it is a matter of luck that an interested buyer happens to spot your item while it is up for sale.  What I've have often seen is an item finishing the auction with no bids while another identical one priced much higher sells. Or upon being relished, it is snatched up quickly  on a "buy it now" option. I have had things i purchased for research purposes and never really liked, sell. And I have some pieces I've always liked but need to move on, not get a single bid and very ew lookers.

It has been no surprise that Rodney Kent items have sold quiet well, but it has been a great surprise that the beloved Continental chrysanthemum patterned items are not selling. Have Continental collectors already bought one of everything?

Surprisingly, casserole holders, both with and without their baking dishes, seem to be selling well. Bread trays aren't. Ash trays aren't, although they may someday be a thing of the past. Many smokers obligingly step outside to light up. One collector uses them for individual tidbit servers. Neat idea.

I've gleaned a few things off eBay that some of you might want to investigate. This Continental piece puzzles me. It carries the mark we're accustomed to seeing but the piece appears to be tarnished silver. Note the leaf in the handle design but the curving 'wire' decoration is different. It is presently for sale on the eBay site. Then there are two Everlast trays for sale with these motifs. They're new to me and I'm hunting another that I've misplaced.  Both these trays are presently for sale at auction
style, I believe. The one on the right appears to be an older motif and similar to another wildflower motif.    

Tonight when I scrolled down the long list of sale items, I noticed a large amount of the pieces were listed at a set price as "buy it now" and it appears that prices are rising. A Continental tray with irises was priced at $69 which may not be terribly unreasonable since it is not exactly a common motif. A Wendell August vase with the Mirada pottery and iris holder is well over $200 - okay, how many pieces of glass and pottery survive these past 60-70 years? One must think of those issues before going berserk over the cost.
This appears to be an old motif and similar to another wildflower one.

I have also checked the prices on hammered aluminum items featured at several shops. Some are priced far beyond their worth according to the selling prices on eBay - and some are real bargains. Some are accurately portrayed and some are cited as belonging to an era before hammered aluminum was being made.

It's a wild market place and let the buyer beware.

We need to catch up on our Rodney Kent numbers - a collector has sent photos of her collection and other collectors have sent questions and remarks about their recent purchases. I saved all of these in a folder but this new computer does not behave the way my other one did. Most of what was supposedly saved is unreadable and I am very unhappy. This had gone unnoticed until tonight so perhaps after a week or so of research I can solve the problem. I really need something to occupy my days, anyway,  Yeah!

One last word on making comments and following this blog: I am occasionally contacted by collectors who must downsize. They are seeking nearby collectors who might be interested in purchasing all or part of their collection. The sad part is, I no longer know who lives where, and can offer no help. One helpful solution might be to list your name and state as a potential buyer - or mention something you're hunting. I'm sure we all value our privacy but as a group of folks who are interested in aluminum, we can surely devise a way to way to handle this.  Suggestions, anyone?

More to follow soon.