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Fri Mar 16 2012 11:01:54

What Item You've Sold Had the Best Story Behind It?

By: Julia Wilkinson

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"Just for fun" today, as a break from all the ups and downs of fees, changes, shipping, customer complaints...let's take a moment to remember some of our best finds and the ones with the best story or stories behind them.

EcommerceBytes has a "This Week's Haul" topic on its forums where folks are encouraged to discuss their finds; you can leave a message there or a comment on this blog.

When I think of some of my favorite stories behind items I've sold, a few come to mind. One of the types of things I like to sell are old high school and college yearbooks. I love looking through the pages and seeing photos of how cities and towns used to look, the ever-changing vignette of hairstyles; from the mens' pompadours of the 1920s to the ladies pulled back and curled 'dos of the '40s; and even through the 1970s when any length was fair game, and hair may have had its worst decade ever!

But I love that when I sell someone a yearbook, I am giving them a memory back. One of my favorite yearbook stories was a lady who bought an old VMI (Virginia Military Institute) yearbook from me as a birthday gift for her eightysomething mother. She asked if there was a certain young man in the yearbook, and there was. It turned out he was her "sweetheart" at the time, and the lady's mother had a full-page photo portrait on one page of the yearbook, as the young man's organization could "sponsor" a young lady. She bought the yearbook, and brought back a wonderful memory for this lady.

One yearbook, the one pictured above, was for a storied high school near where I live: George Washington High School in Alexandria, Virigina. The 1951 yearbook pictured above had a fun find: a young Willard Scott (longtime tv weatherman). Of course, he was class president.

Another time, I sold a yearbook to a man who was looking for his former girlfriend. He told me to just look for "the most beautiful girl in the yearbook." He thanked me so many times for the yearbook once he got it; I was amazed to see how happy he was to have this memory back.

There have been many other stories, but those are the two that come to mind.

Do you have any favorite stories behind your finds, whether it's the item's history, the story behind the person who bought it, or something else? Post a note in the EcommerceBytes forums boards under This Week's Haul or a comment here on the blog!




Comments (17) | Permalink

Readers Comments

What Item You've Sold Had the Best Story Behind It?   What Item You've Sold Had the Best Story Behind It?

by: Harriet This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 16 13:55:08 2012

I've had several memorable sales.

One was a vintage wooden tennis racquet. My neighbor had thrown it out in the bulk trash pile we have every Spring. I asked if I could take it. He said, "Sure". So I listed it. It had some mileage on it, but had a very good name brand. I sold it to the daughter of the maker and designer of the racquet. She wanted it for the family's collection. They had another one like it, but mine was in much better shape than the one they had. She was so happy.

Another was a vintage lamb cake mold. The man who bought it told me that his father had designed it and made it, and that he himself had worked in the small factory as a boy, and it brought back many memories for him. He was thrilled to get it.

I sold a vintage tie clasp that was of a piece of construction equipment, can't remember exactly, but I think it was an asphalt paver. I got it very inexpensively, and thought it was interesting. I listed it for a modest price and it ended up close to $70.00 or so. As it turned out, it had a well known vintage maker's mark who specialized in construction equipment jewelry and other things and was highly collectible. I guess the asphalt paver was one of the rarer ones.

I listed an vintage Catholic prayer book for a modest sum. It turned out to be a highly sought after version and ended up close to $100.00.

Then, of course, there was my very first online sale, not to exraordinary price-wise, but it got me started. It was a small Currier and Ives creamer that I purchased for 25 cents. It sold for $6.00. I thought that was a pretty good profit and it got me started.

What Item You've Sold Had the Best Story Behind It?   What Item You've Sold Had the Best Story Behind It?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ina

Fri Mar 16 14:44:55 2012

"construction equipment jewelry" - that's an interesting niche!

What Item You've Sold Had the Best Story Behind It?   What Item You've Sold Had the Best Story Behind It?

by: Harriet This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 16 16:07:49 2012

Over the years, I've sold a couple of construction related tie clasps and tacks. One was a bulldozer tie clasp. Train and plane tie clasps are always good sellers too.

Who knew??

What Item You've Sold Had the Best Story Behind It?   What Item You've Sold Had the Best Story Behind It?

by: Harriet This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 16 16:13:40 2012

Oh, then there was the vintage handmade ornament that I had listed. I got a message from the actual artist who made it and she wanted me to correct something in the listing. I didn't know the name of the person who had made it at first, and offered to add her name to the listing, but she didn't want me to do that. It had been many years since she had made it.

So, you never know who is looking at your things.

It's been a very interesting trip, selling online.

What Item You've Sold Had the Best Story Behind It?   What Item You've Sold Had the Best Story Behind It?

by: EssexEstateServices This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 16 16:24:51 2012

Wow .. we've had so many! One of my favorites was a photograph we were selling as a part of an estate of an elderly gentleman. It was a photo autographed by the 4 Romanov daughters (Anastasia, Olga, Tatiana and Maria). We tried to vette the piece to a number of Russian memorabilia dealers and could not get a firm price. So, we told them ... here's the deal, it's going on eBay on a 7 day auction, here's the item number, go at it! Let the highest bid win. We thought $1,000, maybe $2,000 would be the top bid.

Well, bidding puttered along all week. In the last hour the bidding skyrocketed! The final bid was $12,001, second highest bid was $12,000. Nothing like having two confirm that the fair market value was around $12k! It wound up going to a collector in Texas.  

What Item You've Sold Had the Best Story Behind It?   What Item You've Sold Had the Best Story Behind It?

by: Harriet This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 16 18:21:46 2012

That reminded me of the sales of some antique CDV photographs. Nothing on your scale, unfortunately. I wish!

But I had an antique CDV of the Transit of Venus (A transit of Venus is when it moves across the sun and is visible because Venus is between the sun and the Earth) which had happened in the late 1800s.

It is a rare event, and having an antique CDV photograph of it was even rarer.

That listing brought a good sum.

Also had an antique CDV of the Russian royal family, can't remember which (that's why your post reminded me of these items). That one also went for a good price.

As did an antique CDV of a tribal member in full regalia from one of the Polynesian islands.

These were all in a group of antique CDVs I purchased at an estate sale.

Just sold 10 more of the same lot to a film producer. They were antique CDVs of a scene in Italy and she needed them for reference.

Such interesting stuff.  

What Item You've Sold Had the Best Story Behind It?   What Item You've Sold Had the Best Story Behind It?

This user has validated their user name. by: Al G

Fri Mar 16 19:13:12 2012

Interesting on the construction equipment tie clasps. After completing a plant tour of the American Locomotive Works in Schenectady as an undergrad, I was given a tie clasp with their latest (& last) locomotive. Its been in my possession since.

But, the most interesting story I've had was coming into possession of railroad photographs over the years. After listing a number of them, the grandsons of the photographer were trying to re-establish the collection of their grandfather. Over the years, I've been pleased to have their first refusal on the photos. Since they are involved, I basically cover my costs plus a small finder's fee.

What Item You've Sold Had the Best Story Behind It?   What Item You've Sold Had the Best Story Behind It?

This user has validated their user name. by: juliawww

Fri Mar 16 21:59:03 2012

Harriet, that's amazing you sold to so many makers (and relatives of makers) of these items! So fun! What a great memory to give them too.

Also your racket story reminds me of my very first tennis racket..yes it was wooden and had Maureen someone on it..I'll have to look her up..lol. Thanks for sharing!

What Item You've Sold Had the Best Story Behind It?   What Item You've Sold Had the Best Story Behind It?

This user has validated their user name. by: juliawww

Fri Mar 16 22:01:47 2012

Essexestate that is totally amazing! Wow! The 4 Romanov daughters..incredible. How sad they met such a tragic fate. Though at my college there was a professor's wife who claimed to be Anastasia, as I recall. Thx for sharing that wonderful story!  

What Item You've Sold Had the Best Story Behind It?   What Item You've Sold Had the Best Story Behind It?

This user has validated their user name. by: juliawww

Fri Mar 16 22:05:55 2012

Al that's a neat story..how sweet that the grandsons were trying to recreate his collection. Wow I feel like looking for train memorabilia and old photos tomorrow!  

What Item You've Sold Had the Best Story Behind It?   What Item You've Sold Had the Best Story Behind It?

by: Harriet This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 16 22:37:54 2012

Al, I am from the Schenectady area, and I am familiar with Alco. What a coincidence!

What Item You've Sold Had the Best Story Behind It?   What Item You've Sold Had the Best Story Behind It?

This user has validated their user name. by: Al G

Sat Mar 17 12:55:01 2012

The world is small, Harriet.

And getting smaller.

What Item You've Sold Had the Best Story Behind It?   What Item You've Sold Had the Best Story Behind It?

This user has validated their user name. by: silent anarchy

Sun Mar 18 17:52:28 2012

Back in the 90's i used to sell antique vintage keys and other decorative hardware, doorknobs,plates brass dresser pulls, mainly victorian era and art deco. I picked up keys anywhere i went and found a skeleton key marked "martha's vineyard" , sold it on ebay for high price, buyers address was martha's vineyard. Also i had picked up a few vintage keys with ornate dolphins kissing a ball, didnt know what they were until i got a very high price for them on ebay , roughly around year 2000, found out later they were early victrola keys.

What Item You've Sold Had the Best Story Behind It?   What Item You've Sold Had the Best Story Behind It?

This user has validated their user name. by: silent anarchy

Sun Mar 18 17:53:28 2012

Actualy i ment late 90's early 2000's.

What Item You've Sold Had the Best Story Behind It?   What Item You've Sold Had the Best Story Behind It?

by: Quicksilver Messenger This user has validated their user name.
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Mon Mar 19 11:46:33 2012

I had an actresses (Eden Riegel from All My Children) mother order a lower distribution magazine that featured her daughter in an article from me a couple of years ago. I thought that was kind of cool!

What Item You've Sold Had the Best Story Behind It?   What Item You've Sold Had the Best Story Behind It?

by: Another Coin This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 20 03:34:33 2012

One that stands out for me was a few years ago I sold a vintage keyboard to the curator of a Russian museum to be put on display.

I love selling items that bring back fond memories and have a special meaning to the recipient. Even if I don't make as much money on an item, at least I know it is going to a good home.

What Item You've Sold Had the Best Story Behind It?   What Item You've Sold Had the Best Story Behind It?

by: jeanne*gene This user has validated their user name.

Thu Mar 22 01:34:05 2012

In the late 90's I was selling stuff that had been around for a long time.  One item I sold was an Aurora Model Motoring car (body only).  It was, if I rememeber right, a 1968 Dodge Charger in a rare color scheme (a reference book listed it at $150).  We were really happy to get $500 for it.  It was both rare and had never been mounted on a chassis (no thread marks in the mounting holes).  The interesting story about this car was how I obtained it.  My mother had worked at an Aurora packing plant and occassionally some car bodies ''fell'' into her pocketbook. It sat in a box with some other cars for 30 years.

I have another 2 items that I'm not sure how to sell or their value.  When I worked for NBC-TV I saved two small 16mm movie reels (about 3'' in diameter) from the trash that contain footage from Apollo XI, the first moon landing.  These films were called kine's and were made by capturing, on film, the live images that were being displayed on television monitors (the only way it could be done before videotape came into wide useage).



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