|EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 541 - May 20, 2003 - ISSN 1539-5065 3 of 4|
A rare piece of Carnival glass sold for a whopping $16,237.55 on eBay yesterday. The item is a plate in Northwood's Strawberry pattern, but it is the color that makes it rare, according to glass expert Reyne Haines, co-owner of JustGlass.com. "The color is Ice Blue," Haines said. "This is one of four known plates - two have been damaged, this makes the second perfect one. The other sold in 1995 for $23,000."
The auction started May 12 for a mere $5, and by the end of the day, the bidding had risen to $3,978. The seller amended her description that evening to say she had put the plate in a safe deposit box at the bank.
The auction generated much discussion by sellers on message boards, including speculation on how the seller would ship the fragile plate to the winning bidder. "If I were the seller, I’d drive across the country to deliver it! Of course, that would have to happen after CPR was administered," said one poster.
The seller's description explained the plate was inherited from her "husbands grandma who recently passed away at age 92." She clearly was surprised at the level of attention her auction received.
If the seller had known the rarity of the piece, it's possible she would have gotten even more for the plate, according to Haines. There are auctioneers that specialize in carnival glass, including Burns Auction Service in Bath, New York, and Seeck Auctions in Mason City, Iowa. "All that means is unfortunately it didn't go to a carnival glass auction where it would have had the right exposure to get up to that price point again," referring to the other Ice Blue Northland plate that sold for $23,000.
So how does one learn the value of an item before selling it? Haines suggested doing a little research. The Internet is a great tool, with many discussion groups, including the art glass group Haines moderates for TIAS.com. You can also join a collectors club, Haines said. Her site, JustGlass.com, has a complete listing of National Glass Clubs.
"By joining these groups, you can ask other collectors where the best place to sell your wares are, or what you have. They can recommend reference books, Web sites and auctioneers."
What about people who think of carnival glass as some cheap poor man's Tiffany? "I've told people stories of high-end carnival glass plates selling before in the $20K price range," Haines said. "How many Tiffany plates have you ever seen command this kind of money? Not many, if any."
About the author:
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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