Over the last 20 years I’ve been lucky enough to turn a life-long interest in “old things” into my current day jobs – auctioneering in Emsworth Auctions and running an antiques & collectables shop, Emsworth Antiques Etc. in the town’s West Street.
These days, whether we actively buy or sell through eBay, many of us browse their pages for items that interest us, or to see the value of items we own ourselves.
However, many people who do this don’t dig deep enough to find the right prices. They believe that the ‘Buy It Now’ figures they see represent the item’s current value, which isn’t necessarily the case.
For instance, if you go to eBay’s basic search page and put in ‘Royal Doulton mini Gamp character jug’ as I’ve just done, you’ll find that there are 13 such listings (number quoted to the left of the green “+ follow this search” button).
To the right and up, there is a “Best Match” option which I (being an optimist) change to “Highest Price”.
This shows a startling USA £154 Buy It Now for a mini ‘Sairey Gamp’ and ‘The Poacher’. Scroll down and you’ll see individual Sairey Gamps listed between £10 to £20 plus postage.
However, if you go back up to the ebay logo at the top left of the page and look below that, there is an option for selecting “categories” and below that a number of further options including Condition, Price, Format etc. until you reach “Show only Completed listings / Sold listings”.
If you click on ‘Sold Listings’ only 2 items show, going at £5 - £7 each. Now click on ‘Completed Listings’ and you’ll see that most were unsold on Buy It Now.
Further selecting “Item Location” as ‘UK Only’ shows 4 items, priced £13 - £15 including postage – none of which sold at all.
A good example of the immediate information available giving a thoroughly misleading impression. It’s not unreasonable to assume that any Royal Doulton figure should be worth about £20, but the reality – once you have dug deep enough to find it – can be quite different these days.