Two-part question on selling vintage crystal glassware

alisandeMay 12, 2010

I'd like to sell some Orrefors crystal glasses--wine and cordial--from the 1960s, and a few pieces of older amethyst crystal glassware. Oh, and some Italian turkey dishes ("by Mancioli exclusively for the Walter Hatches") as well.

I have experience selling on eBay, but not this sort of thing. I wondered if there are better online venues to sell tableware. Any suggestions?

Also, I'd appreciate some tips on shipping extremely fragile items. Most of my selling experience involves books. The thought of packing a wine glass makes me want to pour some wine. :-)



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Not sure if there is any "good" venue currently for selling such things...unless you are patient and willing to wait for a buyer....but ebay with it's finite auction period may not be the best. If possible I would look for a consignment shop...or place an ad in the Antiques Trader....and repeat once a month for as long as it takes. You could do every week....but that would get expensive....and I have the feeling that one issue gets passed around.
As for packing....just pick a sturdy box that won't crush and use tons of bubble wrap

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 11:40PM
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Sturdy box is key. I've actually used a purchased plastic box when I didn't trust cardboard. You could even put each item in a separate box and then do a box within a box thing. A shop that sells such stuff might be able to supply you with purpose-specific packaging too.

I also wonder if a local consignment shop wouldn't be a good bet. Home consignment shops are springing up around here like ... weeds, except more welcome.


    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 3:27AM
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My experience with consignment shops is this:

- As a buyer, the prices are much higher than eBay or Craigslist, so I rarely shop there.
- But as a seller, the consignment shops want 50% of the sales price, so the seller doesn't necessarily net any more than they would on eBay. Basically, you're just inserting and paying a middle man.
- A quality auction house would draw in a higher caliber of buyer, so for the really good stuff, that might be the way to go.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 4:33PM
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I agree with the auction house....but I have gotten some amazingly fabulous buys at auctions.
The consignment shops I know only want 25 to 30%....and I think that's high! LOL!

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 8:06PM
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I agree with the auction house....but I have gotten some amazingly fabulous buys at auctions.
The consignment shops I know only want 25 to 30%....and I think that's high! LOL!
But...keep in mind that an auction is wholesale price and a shop is even if the shop takes a percentage, they are still dealing retail....which is usually twice wholesale.
Linda C

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 8:09PM
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Auctions are not wholesale. They are very difficult for attaining inventory, because we're up against collectors who don't have to worry about retailing their purchases. For those of us in the trade, it's not a good thing. You can show your stuff to a good saleroom and they will tell you right out what they think their clientele are likely to do on the sale itself. Sometimes your stuff is worth a ton more than you thought, or a ton less. Sometimes a bidding war ensues and you can do very well. Just make sure that what you plan to sell is pristine, if it's a set make sure the set is entire and make absolutely certain that your consignment is attractive to the saleroom-if it's great stuff but common as pebbles it won't fetch much. IF it's unsuited to that saleroom's genre it is unlikely to get interest.

No one that I know doubles wholesale to get retail-they'd be sitting on their inventory forever. Standard practice here is ten to fifteen percent MARKUP for a wholesale transaction (dealer to dealer), and markups that rarely exceed thirty or forty percent for retail, bearing in mind that retail buyers was a discount on everything, so we have to ensure that their discounts don't exceed the profit. Yes, some of us make a living at this and yes, it takes a profit to make a living. We're not getting rich but we are keeping our inventory fresh because honest markups mean sales.

To wrap stemware (I ship overseas a LOT, so am paranoid about preventing breakage), fold tissue into strips lengthwise. Wrap these strips around the stems. Keep wrapping more until the paper-wrapped stems is about the same diameter at the foot rim or rim. Then pack a ball of tissue into the bowl, fold yet another tissue into strips and use as a collar for the rim and foot rim. Wrap the whole mess in a sheet of tissue, and cover with bubble wrap. It seems excessive but you won't see breakage.
You can also give a light wrapping and set them onto crumpled tissue in divided boxes-such as ornament boxes or U-Haul glassware boxes. Much faster than the method above.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 1:32AM
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I know a lot of dealers who stock their shops from household auctions....and who buy with the thoughts that they will ask double what they buy for.
Many times they will say...I can only get $XX for that so I won''t go higher than $XX....any more and it's not worth my trouble.
I live very near where the Gene harris auctions used to be...his son has taken over and now does mostly internet live auctions. There would be bidders from many states away when a good household would come up for sale.
However I agree that "collectors sales" are awful for dealers...
Linda c

    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 11:22AM
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Linda, ALL auctions that I attend are open to ALL buyers. There is no such thing (at least in the eastern states)as a distinct "collector's sale", nor are there "trade only" sales. Taking this from the auctioneer's perspective-the goal is to maximise the hammer price of each lot that crosses the block. This benefits both auction and consignor. Therefore, closing sales to the public (collectors) contraindicates that goal. Perhaps there may be a few places local to you that require a dealer to have a tax ID or license of some sort in order to attend but that is not the practice here. Is the Harris auction a dealer only auction? I didn't see any restrictions in a quick perusal of the site.
In this area, if trade attends sales, trade does so in order to buy specific items for specific clients, or hopes that something 'slips through the cracks' so that it may be purchased for later retail sale. Unfortunately most things are greedily grabbed by clients with very deep pockets! It's no secret that many in the gallery and most of the telephone bids are trade bidding on behalf of these clients.

I looked up the Gene Harris-got Tom Harris, presumably that's the son who took over? I used to go to sales like this but never, ever found one single thing that I would retail; although there have been two or three objects within my specialty, these were so tatty that I couldn't be bothered. I rarely buy 'projects'. I have one object sitting in my house that needs only a re-gluing and re-set of its tripod base (minor repair and not considered attrition). I have had this object since the end of March and haven't got the job done yet. All it takes is a telephone call. Just so you know why I can't buy projects!

We often fall into inventory just by word of mouth, mostly through our networks. I really prefer buying from and selling to trade, although margins are slimmer it's enormously fun. But oh my I do love the axcitement of an auction.

Hehe, now I sortakinda know where you are! You must come east, ma'am, and let me take you round with me. You'd have a blast and would probably be the 'belle of the ball'. But then, in return, you'd have to haul me around all the good places in your region.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 2:49PM
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Back in the day....LOL! thre would be many many things you could use at these auctions...
When I say "collector's sale" I mean a sale where the auctionere has amassed many lots of the same sort of stuff and advertises it as a doll auction or clock auction or a rug sale or fine furniture...
I find the good buys are at sales of households that have collected lovely things.
Yes...I am out here aren't I! I was born and raised in northern New Jersey where my parents lived until; they died...and I went to school in I know where-of the nifty stuff is hiding!!

    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 3:39PM
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Aaah, gotcha. There is a great annual clock auction near here, good saleroom, fun auctioneer.

Come east sometime soon.

Rhinebeck has some great antiques fairs, the spring Brimfield just got done, Hudson has some neat places for poking about, Buffalo has a few gems, Rochester has a few gems, Syracuse has two excellent tradespeople, Binghamton has tradespeople and some interesting sales, NYC of course...Bedford antiques fair, etc-and those are just in NYS!

Now, alisande, have you received sufficient options for moving your items? I believe that if you're comfortable with selling on ebay then you should be fine-you'll already have a following from satisfied customers. Who wouldn't want Orrefors crystal? But do check round auction salerooms. The only problem with consigning to auction is that you wait for the appropriate sale, unless it's a general auction. But you can get an idea how these things move and what sort of prices people may pay for them.

Would like to know what you decided and how you did!

    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 8:11PM
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Another idea is to piggy-back on to another household sale....add your stuff to theirs.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 11:28PM
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There aren't many choices (consignment shops, etc.) in this rural area. I sold some things at auction through Skinner several years ago--packed up the car and drove everything up to Boston. But this time I don't have nearly enough to interest an auction house. More like a little of this, a little of that....

Thanks, though.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 10:38AM
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I have noticed that this thread is a year and a half old, however I bet some of us can use the answer to it. People still sell and ship fragile items.

I sell mine online, both eBay and Amazon, eBid, and a handful of others. Packing isn't as bad as it seems to be, although I still remember having nightmares over shipping my first fragile item. You need to first wrap it in tissue, then fill with packing peanuts, wrap again in bubble wrap, and put in the box filled with peanuts. You might want to double-box it, in which case you might want to use styrofoam sheets OR styrofoam egg crates for cushion & support.

Make sure you purchase insurance, and stamp your label & box with "FRAGILE" stamp. Good luck.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2011 at 5:46PM
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