Not all old things have value. These oil lamps were probably made when Jesus walked the Earth but they are fairly common if you look for them. Plain ones like this have a fairly low value but some that have more detail can sell for big bucks. Things this old should really be in a museum and it's not often we find things that are really 2000 years old so it was fun to see them....
It wasn't until post war that retailers began to seiously market to children. Holiday comic / activity books like these sprinkled with toy ads were a great way to get mom and dad to do their shopping at one specific store so as not to dissapoint. Things like this just weren't meant to last and that is why they were worth $65 today.
Yes, a clothing hamper. When I found it digging around on a housecall last week the owner said in disbeliefe 'You really want that?' He gave it to me for free and in less than one week it sold on eBay for $40. The buyer also paid another $40 in shipping so the real value was $80 to him or her. People don't generally save stuff like this for 50 years so it's easier to sell than you might think as there are many folks trying to recreate the perfect mid century look.
This little guy didn't have any markings but by knowing descriptive buzzwords such as 'Imari' we were able to find comps and got a nice price for what might otherwise appear to be just another mundane figurine. One customer had a whole house full of cat figures, most of which were nothing special. Having the eye to recognize unusual pieces is what sets us apart from other auction services.
Things like old comics can have serious value but condition is everything. Comics and other types of things can be professionally graded on their conditiion - which costs money and takes time to mail them off. Sometimes we get things that could be worth even more if we had them appraised by a third party but since our consignors don't always want to invest money in things they're getting rid of, we just have to carefully show buyers what we have and take our chances.
I was recently turned on to the strategy of 'junk drawer' lots on eBay. Dealers looking for smalls and hoarders alike will pay up for a bunch of random vintage stuff. In this case, I tried to make an appealing group of things but for only $65 I don't think I'll be doing it again anytime soon. Believe it or not, there was a good $300 or more worth of items here if sold individually. The problem with selling unmatched groups of anything is that it lowers the per-piece price and most importantly, it is too hard to market to specific collectors.
Quality musical instruments will always have decent resale value but here is a story for you: A couple years ago, a customer brought me one of these to sell - I sold it - and that was that. That same customer, who was a professional level player by the way, decided that she wanted to play again - mainly for her father who's health is declining. She just happened to be checking on eBay and found this instrument - from a totally different customer - and went ahead and bought it and picked it up in the store. We're like a neighborhood trading post!
This old cart had never been used and was almost 50 years old - it's the type of thing that's so obscure and most people would send to the thrift store or throw away. And just look at the pattern, we knew it was so awful that someone would love it but it took time and effort to sell.
As part of our employee 'picker' training program, we sent Kyle to the local thrift store with the intent to buy something and resell it for a profit. He paid $5 for this item and after about a month, it sold. After the eBay fees his profit was around $15 - he quadrupled his investment! Imagine if you could get returns like that in volume, selling hundreds of items a month. All it takes is a little knowledge and effort. Right here on this blog explains to you 80% of what I know - the rest is just instinct and experience which comes in time.
Sometimes, having a 'story' behind a given item not only makes it more salable but also increases it's value. Some pieces from this lot were used by a man who worked at the Mather mine in PA which exploded in 1928. He purportedly didn't feel well that day and stayed home from work while his father went in and was killed in the blast along with 194 other casulties. The person who bought this lot also had a family member who didn't go to work that fateful day either and was preserving the history through artifacts.
These Hallmark decorations typically retail between $10 and $20 each new at the store. As a second-hand dealer, we can't afford to take the time to sell things on the Internet for under $20. In many cases, we have to create 'group lots' like this knowing it will lower the per piece price and the weight and cost of the shipping will cut into the sale as well. These things considered, our timing was apparently good and this lot sold for a respectable price.