"Watch" Out for these High End Timepieces! Upcoming Christies Auctions will offer some stunners....
Here's Six "High-End" Timepieces and Watches we all wish we owned! Well, actually you can own one. They are being offered by Christies and Sotheby's over the next few months. All you need is $100,000 or so to begin the bidding. For the complete story Click Here
When is a Cracker Worth $23,000?
Answer: When it was part of the history of the Titanic disaster. For more on the story CLICK HERE.
Want a vintage Babe Ruth Baseball card? Or how about a 1949 Boston Fenway Park Felt Pennant? Antique Currency? The State of Massachusetts has just what you are looking for! Beginning this Saturday (October 31st) at noon, the state will begin auctioning off the first of over 1,200 lots to be sold over the next couple months on Ebay. Yep, that Ebay.
These are all unclaimed items that have sat dormant for years in safe deposit boxes located throughout the state, and despite intensive efforts to locate the owners, they remain unclaimed. Since 2005, the eBay auctions have raised $2.1 million for the state’s general fund through the sale of 8,377 separate lots. The first 100 lots of this year’s auction go up for bid Saturday at noon, under the eBay user name “mass.state.treasury.”
For more information on the auction, visit the Massachusetts website or CLICK HERE.
With the Holiday Season fast approaching, people tend to spend more time inside and that means indoors cooking. It's the time of year when kitchen collectibles tend to peak, so don't miss out on these Yard Sale buys that can usually be found for a dollar or two, and regularly sell for $10 to $30 or more. In fact, some pans are selling for substantially higher sums, in many cases exceeding $100. There is a steady and growing market for vintage and retired cakes pans. Wilton is the most commonly known, and as a side benefit each Wilton pan is stamped with the stock number and initial production date right on the surface of the pan, so they are much easier to differentiate between vintage pans and current production pans. Other names to watch for that are highly collectible are Griswold (Cast Iron 2-Piece Pans can bring $125), Martha Stewart Aluminum Pans (2-Part MS Beehive Pan Sets regularly bring $100+), Nordic Ware, Revere Ware, and Liberty Ware Stainless Pans.
As with almost anything collectible, having the original box or insert (some didn't come in boxes, just the insert inside the pan) and instruction sheet adds to the value. In some cases the pan doesn't even need to be very old. Here's a few to look for, along with some pricing from recent sales:
Wilton Star Wars Cake Pans (retired issues) $35 - $65
Wilton Minnie Mouse (Full Figure 1998 Issue) $65 - $90
Wilton Mickey Mouse (Full Figure - retired issue) $25 - $35
Wilton Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1991) $35 - $50
Wilton Harley Davidson Motorcycle (1999 - retired) $35 - $55
Wilton Batman Logo Pan (1964 - Retired) $35 - $45
Wilton Pokémon Pikachu Nintendo Figure (retired) $35 - $50
Martha Stewart 3-D Thanksgiving Turkey Pan (retired) $75 - $100
Vintage Nude Female Torso Mold (Unknown Maker) $25 - $35
Nordic Ware Dinosaur Cupcake Pan $25 - $35
What to look for? The "Generic" forms are quite common, with many still being made today, and don't tend to be collectible. Look for the specialized pans that are of superheroes, cartoon characters, movies, and of branded merchandise. These normally required licensing for the pan manufacturers to be able to use, and the licensing periods were generally very limited time wise, so once the rights expired most were never reissued.
Interesting Concept. Forward Vintage Postcards on to Current Owners of the Buildings? This person does...
87-year-old Lowell Joerg finds Post Cards in antique shops and Yard Sales, then sends them on to the current owners of the address listed on the vintage cards. This could catch on..... Click Here.
It seems like I have been using Ebay forever, starting with them back in 1998. Back then Ebay was new, fun, innovative...and very, very profitable. It was "Auctions Only", and nearly everything sold if the starting price was low enough. People paid for items by sending money orders and personal checks through the mail, and few paid by credit cards through PayPal or BidPay. As sellers, most of us back then chose to use BidPay because the fees were paid by the buyer, not the seller, similar to a "Buyer's Premium" at a Brick & Mortar Auction. It was fun to find your mailbox stuffed with money orders, checks, and sometimes even cash. Most everyone paid, because those that didn't pay got flamed with "negative feedback" that labeled them as a "deadbeat bidder", allowing others sellers to be forewarned that this buyer had a history of not paying. A seller could then remove their bid and block them from bidding before the end of an auction.
And yes, it was kind of like the "wild, wild west". As there always is, there were a few dishonest or unscrupulous sellers, but they usually didn't last very long, as the feedback system alerted buyers as to what kind of seller was offering the product before they made a purchase. There was also the occasional dishonest buyer, who likewise found quickly that negative feedback comments severely limited his ability to buy from other sellers on Ebay. The occasional "real" mistakes and misunderstandings, when they happened, were usually worked out in a cordial manner. The selling fees were very affordable, usually amounting to between 3% and 5% when all the factors were added in. Basically, sellers were happy, buyers were happy, and Ebay made a ton of money.
Sometime between 2005 and 2007 things began to change. Not all at once, but by little bits at a time that kept adding up, and adding up until all of a sudden Ebay wasn't the same fun, profitable place for most any more. And then it got even scarier.
Today, a trip to the Ebay Community Seller Forums is an eye-opener. A majority of the discussions revolve around how deadbeat buyers are now common, scamming by buyers has transitioned into an art, there is almost no customer support for sellers, and an automated "Customer Service" system that usually sides with buyers and will almost automatically process refunds to buyers for the flimsiest of reasons....if any reason is given at all. Sellers are hit with being charged shipping both ways on many returns, after initially being charged a 10% fee on the shipping to begin with (a fee...by the way, that is not refunded when the item is returned). On top of that, buyers have 180 days to return many items for that refund, hence the graphic at the top of the page, which was "borrowed" from a posting at the sellers forum. Having a Prom? Buy a dress of your liking off Ebay, wear it to the prom, then a couple weeks, or even months later return it for whatever reason. At most the buyer might have to pay the shipping back to the seller. Want to read a new book? Buy it on Ebay, read it, return it. Halloween Costume? Why not. The opportunities go on and on. Scammers have taken notice.
Mention Ebay to vendors at a Flea Market or Antique Mall today (the very people that initially made Ebay into the giant it is today) and one will quickly see just how deeply this distrust of the company actually has gone. Very few will have anything good to say about the company. Most are using alternative venues even if they are still using Ebay. Many have simply gone in a different direction completely, and not looked back. And most will tell you, when they sell elsewhere, they also buy elsewhere. "Ill Will" is not a word most businesses like to hear because it is very, very hard to overcome once the label has been attached.
So how did Ebay fall so far, so quickly, in the eyes of many? In less than ten years it has gone from top of the heap to just another venue for selling stuff. What changed?
In my opinion many factors contributed to where they are today, but like boiling that frog in a pot, the heat rose gradually in steps and was unnoticed early on. Today it is boiling.
Factor number one: Greed. What were initially perceived as very fair (and profitable) fees were slowing tweeked, re-tweeked, then new fees added on, all in the name of "improvements". Yes, Ebay had an obligation to maximize profits for the shareholders, but it also had an obligation to balance those profits in a way that still retained their customer base (the sellers). Some of these fees were shameless in the explanations Ebay provided as the reasoning behind them. An example is the 10% fee on shipping charges, which sellers have no control over, because a very few were scamming Ebay by offering an item at very low cost such as a $50 item for $2- which normally the Ebay fees would apply to - then making it up by overcharging shipping costs - which did not have any fees attached to. Instead of ridding themselves of these very few unscrupulous sellers, Ebay saw an opportunity and simply attached the same fees to the shipping charges across the board. The end result is a $10 item sold with $10 in USPS shipping charges just doubled the amount paid to Ebay, going from roughly $1 to $2 in "final value" fees. Multiply that by millions of sales a week and you're talking real money.
Factor number two: Control. Ebay was founded and grew as a venue that connected buyers and sellers, and received a fee for that service. Sellers offered items for sale, buyers purchased it from that seller, both left feedback about how the transaction went, and Ebay received a small fee for putting the two together.
Again, one step at a time, Ebay has evolved into a company today that completely controls what is sold through them, controls the returns process, controls how communications between parties are handled, controls the payment process, controls the refund process (without seller input in many cases), controls the amount of shipping that can be charged in many instances (forcing some items to be shipped at a loss by sellers), and even controls when the money can be paid to the seller for his own merchandise.
Another way to look at Ebay today? They are using the inventory of millions of sellers (without any investment in that inventory) to build their market; using the labor of millions of vendors to photograph, describe, and post that inventory on their website; collecting the payments with a guaranteed profit margin percentage as a fee for every sale, and using their own discretion - not the owner of the merchandise - how and when to offer returns, all while using their own discretion of when to offer refunds and automatically charge it back to the seller. Is that a service? Or is it a company using another's inventory, another's labor and another's capital to turn a profit?
Factor number three: Competition. Ebay was the first of its kind back in the 1990s. The internet was new, and the concept of online auctions took off like wildfire. Ebay exploded, and it took several years for others to try and build some competition. But Ebay owned the market...that was where everybody went to look, so it was only natural to become the place to sell the stuff out of the attic. It was also affordable, and quite easy to use.
Slowly several competitors appeared with similar pricing, some even cheaper. But Ebay owned the market of online auctions from private parties.
Amazon back then began as an online book store. Within several years they expanded into CDs, DVDs, Computer Products and other related items. Initially what gave Amazon a web advantage was the venue: they could offer 2 to 3 times the offerings of a normal "brick & mortar" book store, while at the same time saving the customer a drive to that store. They owned, or controlled, what they sold...offering a combination of variety, price and convenience. The concept, like EBay's, exploded.
Amazon expanded the concept into other merchandise. They bought other online providers such as Drugstore.com, Pets.com, Gear.com, Homegrocer.com and dozens of other companies. They also built or bought fulfillment centers to control the supply line and shipping efficiencies. Amazon used their own inventory, their own labor within the supply chain, and their own capital to continue to grow. By 2001 they had revenues of over one billion dollars.
They later expanded into allowing others to use their format to sell product through, for a fee. In most instances this was brand-new merchandise offered by dealers or manufacturers. Ebay took notice.
By the late 1990s many venues were emerging for niche markets that focused on a specific market such as crafts, hand-made items, antiques, and specialty sales such as vintage clothes. While they didn't have the size of Ebay, many carved their name out as a specialty area where more items in that niche could be found. Many of these pre-screen and carefully controlled their vendors, eliminating much of the difficulties with problem sellers. Ruby Lane focused on Antiques, Etsy built its name on crafts and hand-made items, Bonanza started to grow as an Ebay alternative but with free listings, Ebid, eCrater, Pinterest and opthers all jumped on the bandwagon. And most were significantly cheaper than Ebay. Free formats, such as Craigslist and Facebook, grew on the local level.
As Ebay became more expensive, added more and more rules & regulations, and began being perceived as hostile to sellers, many of EBay's seller base began to move part of their business elsewhere. As sellers moved, so did many buyers. Sellers could sell items for less money and still make the same profit, based on the reduction in the amount of fees being charged. Buyers liked this. Ebay seemed to have a deaf ear to what was happening around it. They were, after all, the biggest....a fact often brought up by their Customer Service Reps when one spoke with them about a problem. Size matters, they said, so its "our way or the highway".
Today, Ebay ranks 5th in Seller Satisfaction according to the 2015 EcommerceBytes Sellers Choice Marketplace Survey, ranking behind Etsy, Amazon, Bonanza, and Ruby Lane.
The competition is here to stay. and customer satisfaction also matters, and Ebay seems to not realize that the revenues they receive are from sellers, not buyers. It will be interesting to see what direction the new leadership at Ebay will try to take. It may be too late.
I found this article interesting, especially growing up in the 1950s and 1960s with Agent 007 as one of my favorites. I actually read most of the paperback novels by Ian Fleming before most of the movies came out. Goldeneye was the first, and it got me hooked.
I had this "thing" growing up...when I found an author I enjoyed, I read everything he had written that I could get my hands on before moving on to a different interest. Growing up in Maine, my income as a child mandated that most of what I read came from the Baxter Library in Gorham, Maine, as I didn't have the funds to buy the books, and unfortunately the library had very few Bond novels. Luckily, a friend's Dad was a big Fleming enthusiast, and had most of the paperbacks, and usually had bought them as they were released. The problem was that the Bond in Fleming's novels wasn't exactly a "model citizen", and many parents considered them too "adult" to be read by children. The Bond depicted in the novels was a heavy smoker, a heavy drinker, and a womanizer. Just about everything a young kid wanted to learn about.
So, I discreetly "borrowed" them from his bookshelf, one at a time. They were quick reads, so a few days later I would return it and borrow another. By the time most of the later movies came out, I had been through everything Fleming had written. I always thought that Sean Connery was the perfect Bond, and even today remains my favorite. According to this latest poll, I am not alone.
This link will take you to a recent study to determine which of the actors to play Bond are the most collectible: CLICK HERE
Which is your favorite?
When people have a "Bad Hair Day", the fix is usually a shampoo, conditioner, rinse & dry, or a trip to the salon, if preferred. But when you get an otherwise decent vintage doll with bad hair it's a different story. Water by itself doesn't do much with synthetic hair. Heat destroys it. Hair Spray makes it worse. So what is one to do?
One solution is affectionately called the "Downy Dunk". Yep, that Downy...the fabric softener. Here's something to try the next time you experience that "doll in distress".
Last Saturday we found this 1970 Crissy Doll, with the original box, at a Yard Sale for $6. The doll was basically in good shape, and the hair feed mechanism worked fine, but the hair was a mess. It was badly tangled, and the shorter hair on the head had molded itself out of shape while stored in the box (these attics here in Virginia can reach 130 degrees in the summer easily, and the heat does all kinds of wonderful things to whatever is stored in the attic...and dolls and toys are no exception). In addition, Crissy's hair was exceptionally stiff, so I suspect at some point someone tried to help her out with a bit of hair spray.
To fix her, we first needed to assemble the basics. We start with Dawn dish washing detergent, and Downy fabric softener. We prefer the non-concentrated softener, and some may prefer to use the unscented version if sensitive to smells, as the softener will retain the scent when all is finished. The softener is to synthetic hair what conditioners are to human hair. You will also need a tray of sorts to tilt the doll into without immersing the entire body (Paint Roller Trays work very nicely).
As an important side note here, many prefer to "waterproof" a doll at this point, especially the eye area to prevent water and chemicals from seeping into the dolls inside, which could cause other problems. This can be easily accomplished by carefully using a plastic wrap. Some websites recommend taping the eye areas but we DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS because the tape can damage the face, eyebrows, and eyelids on some dolls, especially older ones. We decided to just do Crissy carefully.
Step 1: Wash the hair using the Dawn Detergent, and carefully rinse.
Step 2: Pour some of the Fabric Softener into the pan, and work into the hair. Use a spoon or cup to carefully soak the hair next to the head (you will need to continue to carefully "baste" the head over the next couple hours). Make sure you have enough softener to cover the rest of the hair, and let it soak a minimum of two hours. Some recommend letting it set overnight, but we have found a couple hours is usually sufficient. Notice how the pan can be tilted in the sink, keeping the hair wet and the doll dry.
Step Three: Partially dry the hair so that doesn't drip. While the hair is still wet, use a brush to carefully untangle the hair, starting at the ends and working towards the head. When the tangles are straightened, rinse the hair carefully once again. When done, lay the doll's hair out straight on paper towels and let dry naturally. WE DO NOT RECOMMEND USING HEAT or a blower, as it may damage or re-tangle the hair.
Step Four: When dry, brush out the hair once again. At this point - if preferred - you can use rollers or a low heat curler to style the doll's hair back to original or to customize. Although we did not do this to Crissy for this post, her hair should actually have some curling near the ends and we will be doing this in the near future. .
This technique works well for most anything with synthetic hair, including My Little Ponies & Barbie Dolls. Crissy's happy!
Monopoly Game Values - Old & New
Note: This is the 4th Installment in a Series regarding Monopoly Games. Click on the Archives to read previous posts.
Earlier this week we discussed the history of Monopoly Games and some of the changes experienced in the 80 years since the game was first launched Nationally by Parker Brothers. If you have been following the blog, you've learned how and why Monopoly is growing as a true collectible.
Like all collectibles, there is no "set value" range. Simply put, something is worth what somebody else is willing to pay. That can change within weeks, or never, depending on the whims of those seeking and buying whatever they collect. Price usually depends on three factors: desirability, availability, and condition. When the demand for a product exceeds the availability to acquire that product, the price increases. The price factor then switches to the condition of the product, and Monopoly games are an excellent example to use. They all have boxes that are easily damaged or deteriorated with age, lots of parts that can get lost, and a huge variety of game specific pieces which means a valuable game must have the CORRECT parts and components or the value of that game is greatly diminished.
The more advanced the collector, the higher quality of the product is usually sought, and most advanced collectors will pay a premium to acquire it. For many, its an investment as well as a hobby.
Below you will find a value guide for some of the more desirable Monopoly Games in today's environment. Although these are all listed as "Monopoly", these games include those produced by Parker Brother, USAopoly, Late-For-The-Sky, and others, such as "Parker Sisters" (Yes...there is such a company. Now you have to look for it).
The prices assume that the games are all complete, and while they may have some minor wear and defects, they are of collectible quality. The high value range usually assumes a game is still factory sealed unless an early game or extremely rare. This is by no means an all-inclusive list, but rather a good sampling of what games have been selling, and what they have been selling for. The values have been taken not from any "asking" price, but from actual selling prices obtained from online sources.
Name, Year, Low Value, High Value
Monopoly Single Patent Fine Edition 1935, $300-800
Patent Pending Version 1935, $150-300
Trademark White Box 1935, $1200-2000
Sports Teams (Specific) 1988-2015, $35-100
Coca Cola Editions (Various) 1999-2010, $25-45
GAY Monopoly (Parker Sisters) 1983, $150-300
Franklin Mint Coll Ed. (Wood) 1991, $250-400
Star Wars Ltd Coll Ed 1996, $50-85
Pokemon Coll Ed 1998, $80-150
Justice League of America Monopoly 1999, $75-90
Scooby-Doo Fright Fest Monopoly 2000, $75-90
Pokemon Gold & Silver Ed 2001, $65-125
Best Buy Edition Monopoly 2002, $40-100
Ford Mustang 40th Annv Monopoly 2003, $65-85
KISS-opoly (Rock Group) 2003, $25-80
Boys Scout of America 95th Anv 2005, $65-80
John Deere Coll Ed Monopoly 2005, $25-45
Berkshire Hathaway Diamond Ed 2005, $40-100
The Simpsons Treehouse Horror 2005, $40-90
US Marines Coll Ed 2005, $45-100
BATMAN Monopoly Coll Ed 2005, $145-185
Littleist Pet Shop Edition Monopoly 2008, $40-65
Firefighters Edition 2009, $100-180
Emergency Medical Services Monopoly 2010, $45-85
Lilly Pulitzer Monopoly 2010, $125-250
Boy Scout of America 100th Anv 2010, $150-200
Law Enforcement Ed Monopoly 2010, $50-90
Pepsiopoly (Company Game) 2011, $50-100
Metallica Coll Ed 2011, $60-100
Futurama Coll Ed 2011, $100-175
Sonic the Hedgehog Coll Ed 2012, $75-130
The Godfather Edition Monopoly 2012, $40-110
South Park Monopoly Coll Ed 2012, $110-180
John Wayne Edition Monopoly 2012, $40-100
Crooks & Castles Monopoly 2013, $75-90
WWE Wrestling Edition 2014, $40-80
Tractor-opoly John Deere Monopoly 2014, $25-45
Firefighters Edition 2nd Alarm 2015, $40-65
Civil War-opoly LE of 500 2015, $75-100
Note: This is the third installment regarding collectible Monopoly Games. Click on the "Archives" to review the previous installments.
The designs are so classic, and so ageless, that when one sees the typical Monopoly token it is immediately identified with the game. Earlier this week we discussed the origins of Monopoly back in the first part of the 20th century. As the game became more popular, Parker Brothers realized that producing different versions of each game would be attractive to different markets. Millionaires of the day found the Monopoly concept irresistible, and were willing to pay a considerable amount more for a game that would set itself apart from the standard games.
The very first Monopoly tokens weren't even tokens, they were buttons, or coins, or whatever was available. When Charles Darrow produced his first games in 1934 there were no tokens included. Players were responsible for providing whatever they had available for markers. Parker Brothers, after acquiring the rights in 1935, provided the first metal tokens as we know them today. These were also included in the Patent Description, and originally included the Thimble, Cannon, Iron, Top Hat, Shoe and Battleship.
The early metal die cast tokens were made by the Dowst Manufacturing Company with a Zinc alloy called Zamak, also referred to as Pot Metal or White Metal. These were made from 1935 to 1938, and had a tendency to oxidize very quickly, why many of the original tokens have a poor appearance. This was a result of impurities in the manufacturing process. By the late 1930s these impurities were eliminated and used a metal token made of lead and tin, similar to those used today. The tokens were the same charms as Cracker Jack used and were made by the same company, Dowst, out of Chicago. The Dowst Company invented die casting and also made the first die cast cars ... Tootsietoys!
In 1936, Parker Brothers offered several variations of the standard set that included different tokens than the original six. The Deluxe Set featured slightly larger gold colored tokens, with greater detail than the standard tokens. In early 1936, a version was offered with wooden tokens. It is often thought that these were a "Wartime Issue" token only, but that is not the case. Wooden tokens were available from 1936 through the early 1950s.
As the United States entered World War II and metal became scarce, Parker Brothers swapped to using alternative materials including the wooden tokens already in production, although several other variations of the wooden tokens were used in addition to the standard wooden sets. They also introduced another version made of a composite material composed of sawdust and compressed paper. These included several new token variations not used previously. Known composite versions include a car, pig, train, cannon, elephant, iron, dog, bathtub, shoe, battleship, tank, horse & rider, fighter plane and a DC-3 cargo plane. Both of the planes are extremely hard to find today.
Foreign wartime versions of Monopoly also used Cardboard Tokens fitted with slotted wooden bases.
Shortly after World War II Parker Brothers began producing its own pewter versions of the tokens, based upon the Dowst originals. Several pieces have been retired or replaced over the years within the standard Monopoly games. Discontinued tokens include the Horse & Rider, The Cannon, the Money Bag (produced from 1998 to 2007), the Train, and in 2013 the Flat Iron was replaced with a Cat.
Today the Standard Edition sets include 8 tokens: The Dog, Battleship, Car, Top Hat, Thimble, Shoe, Wheelbarrow, and the Cat.
In the 1990's Hasbro began producing licensing variations of Monopoly to other companies, including USAopoly and Late-For-The-Sky Productions, to allow games to be customized for specific regions, schools, events, companies, and movies. Most of these variations were offered with unique tokens relative to the theme of the game. Hasbro also customized their own versions of the game. This, in effect, created an immediate collectors market as these games were not only sought as games, but became a "Cross-Collectible". Star Wars collectors loved the highly detailed Pewter Tokens, Firefighters found a new theme game for the station, and kids loved to play with the Disney themed characters. many of the early customized version were produced in extremely limited quantities, and have become quite sought after - and valuable - today.
Coming Next: Today's Most Collectible Monopoly Games and Their Values.
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