Monday, June 7, 2010

Seller's Remorse: Ten Things I Wish I Hadn't Sold On eBay

There are good things that can come out of a breakup.  And one of them is having lots of extra time on my hands in the evenings. Freedom! 

It feels too early to dive into the dating scene again, so instead I've decided to shift my focus back to my true love:  Antiques!

I'm both a Collector (dolls, paper ephemera, magazines, vintage clothing, and anything else that strikes my fancy) and a part-time Seller.   (Hmm...maybe someday I can quit my full-time "real" job.  Wishful thinking...)

A taste of my doll collection. The wax doll (on left with shawl), circa 1880's, is the oldest.

I think that most people start off as Collectors, and then when the stuff accumulates to the point where it becomes unmanageable, the Collector naturally moves into Selling - both to get rid of stuff and to get extra cash to be able to buy more.  It's a continuous (and often addictive) cycle.

Well, I did it backwards.  First a Seller - then a Collector.

I became a Seller on a whim.  One Saturday afternoon about 12 years ago, while browsing through an antique mall,  I noticed a "Space for Rent" sign. I'm really not much of a risk taker, but something inside nudged me toward the checkout counter where the owner was sitting - and within minutes I found myself writing out a check for the first month's rent.

It was a crazy thing to do!  I knew very little about antiques, and owned only a few items myself.  How was I going to fill up that entire 20 ft x 12 ft (or whatever it was) space with antiques to sell?  Yikes - what did I get myself into!

But I discovered that I was definitely up to the challenge.  For better or for worse, antiques very quickly became my all-consuming passion.  For the next two, three years my head was constantly buried in antiques and collectibles guides, as I quickly tried to absorb as much information as I could about a wide range of antiques. 

I also faithfully attended two antique auctions each week, spending hours at the previews the night before.  All of this was a great learning experience but - oh my! - did I ever make some big mistakes. I'm still stuck with a number of clunkers that I had purchased during those green years.

Since then I've learned a few things, and my selling venue shifted three years ago from selling in an antique mall to selling online - eBay.  (I'm "Sarsaparilla" - take a peek at what I've got for sale now!)

Another shift:  In those first years my primary focus was on Selling - and Collecting was almost an afterthought.  Now, even though I really can't afford it, I find that I just don't have the heart to sell most of the things I buy.  I want to keep them for myself!  I guess that means I've officially become a Collector.

My large bedroom is lined, wall to wall, with vintage items that I need to sell - or just enjoy for a while. 
Luckily I'm single - because my partner would probably complain!

To my readers who also sell antiques:  Do you have the same problem?  Do you find yourself falling in love with the things you initially bought with "selling for profit" in mind - and then have a tough time giving them up?

In the early years of my antique business, I kept very little for myself.  Oh...when I think back to some of the jewels that I bought and then very quickly sold before really having a chance to enjoy them. And often it was for a price that was waaay too low because I didn't know what I was doing!

I'm a little smarter now, but I still occasionally sell things that I wish I could have back - and enjoy for a little while longer...

Seller's Remorse.  It's a curse.

Here's my list of Ten Things (in no particular order) That I Wish I Hadn't Sold on eBay:

#1 - Isn't this ceramic poodle with "spaghetti" fur adorable?  I've never run across one I liked better...

#2 - This Victorian-era Cast Iron Tazza was perfect for displaying my old Valentines and Calling Cards.  Why did I decide to give it up?

#3 - This Victorian bisque figural planter is so sweet. 

I recall that I had a hard time identifying the maker of this piece because the impressed marks were so faint.  The three marks were: 1) Germany; 2) H 112 or H - 12; and 3) a very faded C shape, with two longer lines running through it vertically - and the letters DEP. A kind eBayer told me that these lines might very well be arrows - and that would make this the mark of Carl Schneider, from the late 1800's to early 1900's. 

I learned a lot by selling this, but I'd still like it back!

#4 - Antique 6th plate daguerreotypes.  What a handsome young family! 
Truthfully, I didn't really appreciate this until after I started researching the history of photography to make sure I got my facts straight when I sold this.   The winner of the dags was a collector and knew his stuff.  He gave me good feedback, so I must have got it right. 

#5 - Here's a lovely pair of Edwardian era or early 1920's women's special occasion shoes. These pretty vintage shoes are in a soft creamy kid leather, accented with a beige ribboned bow and decorative silver buckle. They've got curvy 1  1/2" baby Louis heels and are in the strap-and-button Mary Jane style, popular from the 1890's through the 1920's.  

The shoes were in a very tiny size.  If they were a size 8, I would definitely have kept them - perhaps for my own wedding someday. (Yeah, right...)

#6 - This is part of a large set of cardboard doll furniture from the 1920's or 30's.  Look at that fabulous art deco vanity with large oval mirror!  It's no longer mine, but I'm glad that I still have the photos...

#7 - Vintage 1930's St. Paul Lowry Hotel menu - in mint condition.  I had this displayed on the buffet in my 1920's dining room for years.  What possessed me to sell it?  Happily, it went to a St. Paul bidder.

#8 - This darling Victorian child's dress and jacket is in a soft peach wool with brown velvet trim - with six matching velvet buttons down the back.

This dress is one of a collection of antique children's clothing items that I purchased at an auction several years ago - all dating from the 1850's to the 1890's.

This was my favorite of all the Victorian clothing that I sold.  All of it's gone now except for one lovely red plaid dress which I like to bring out of storage at Christmas time to display by my Christmas tree.  I'll share it with you sometime.

#9 - A 1930's patriotic print - For Love of Country.  This isn't artist-signed, but I think it's absolutely gorgeous...

#10 - Last, but definitely not least - a fabulous 1940's coat with fur trim! It was in perfect condition. It's hard to see in this photo but there is also a diagonal strip of fur on each sleeve.

And the added bonus - it came with a matching fur-trimmed, satin-lined, combination purse / muff!  I am sad that they're gone, but happy that the new owner was absolutely thrilled to have won the bidding war.

I said that these 10 items aren't in any particular order - but if I had to pick a Number One, the 1940's coat and purse set is my favorite.

Thank goodness for the magic of photographs.


  1. Maybe the sale of the items was making way for some amazing things to come for you to enjoy.

  2. AGGHHHH!!!! That coat is amazing!!!! I really like reading about what you did to become an antique seller. I've thought about trying to do that, but like you, I'd probably end up keeping a lot of the loot ; )

  3. Oh, the Edwardian shoes are like a dream come true. And the fur coat, I can imagine you in it, you'd look really elegant and special.


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