ISSUE 28: Apr. 2007
Yard Salers: Issue 28! West Point Wonders: The World of Militaria, Cookbooks, and More - Apr. 07
Please forward this to a friend!
It finally feels like Spring here in the D.C. area. I've been hitting the local yard and estate sales with a vengeance, and have a lot to report to you related to those. I'll also be giving you an update on my quest to make more money with fewer lots by grouping things together smarter ("more smartly"?). As they used to say when I was in corporate life, "work smarter, not harder."
The best sale I hit recently was an estate sale that didn't have a lot of enticing description, so I think it was a bit under the radar. It was a family of three men who were conducting an estate sale for their father who had recently passed away. They were all four West Point graduates, and there were some wonderful military books and other stuff. From that one sale I picked up items that made my sales for the week, and probably will a second week as well. I'll be explaining what I found in the first article in this issue, and share with you strategies for how you can profit from similar sales.
Speaking of books, reader Sara Croft of www.OrphanTreasures.com has sent us a wonderful piece about cookbooks, entitled, appropriately, "I Love Cookbooks." Look for it in the Reader Mail section. We hope to run more pieces from Sara in the future, too.
In listening to the news just now, I am reminded about something I do want to address briefly, especially since I live in Virginia. I'm sure you all heard about the horrible events at Virginia Tech. I just want to mention that my thoughts are with the community of Virginia Tech, and if any of you were affected by it directly or indirectly, my thoughts and prayers are with you as well.
I attended the University of Virginia, and I was proud to hear that UVA has been very supportive of the whole Tech community, and donated thousands of candles for the candlelight vigil they held.
I'll actually be at the University of Virginia in early June for a reunion down there. While I'm there, I of course like to poke around the antique shops in the area, and especially local yard sales if I get a chance. It was at a yard sale in that area, at the base of a mountain, where I found my infamous 1920s Walter Johnson baseball board game, bought for $5 and sold on eBay for around $90.
I'll also be at eBay Live this June, once again helping to cover the event for AuctionBytes and doing a book signing or two. I'm looking forward to meeting up with many folks, and meeting you in person if you'll be there. If you do plan to go, and want to receive an email of my schedule while I'm there, please email me at email@example.com and I'll keep you posted. I also plan to meet with some of the other writers of eBay and online selling related newsletters while I'm there so we can see each other in person and share strategies.
On that note, I wanted to mention a couple of newsletters you may want to check out. My friend Jim Cockrum has just created a new site which has a community forum, articles, and contributing experts, including yours truly. :-) Jim is known for many things, but probably the main thing is for his ebook, "The Silent Sales Machine Hiding on eBay" -- Click here if you want to check it out.
Jim is a big proponent of selling ebooks and information in digital format, as, I'm sure you know, am I. He also is great at coming up with ways to leverage eBay to drive traffic not only to your auctions but to your off-eBay web site was well.
And did you know you can actually put a link to an off-eBay web site if you use the "classified ad" selling format on eBay? We all know you can't put such a link within a traditional eBay auction or store listing, but through Jim's newsletters I learned more about the classified ad format and how you can use to it get a lot of customers for your standalone web site.
The last thing I want to mention is I've decided to go to the World's Longest Yard Sale this year, Aug 2-5. (Also known as the Highway 127 Corridor Sale). I'll be reporting in the August issue about that.
So without further ado, let's get to it!
Julia's Make Money Selling Kids' Clothes on eBay ebook has been updated for 2007! Now 42 pages,it's jam-packed with brand analyses; high, median and low prices; and tips about where to find the best children's clothes to resell. Buy it!.
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The New York Public Library just named The eBay Price Guide: What Sells for What (in Every Category!) among its "Best of Reference" for 2007.
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In This Issue:
1) West Point Wonders: The World of Militaria and How You Can Benefit
2) Making More per Hour with Bigger Lots Update: How is Julia Doing?
3) Reader Mail -- I Love Cookbooks! and Delcampe
1) West Point Wonders: The World of Militaria and How You Can Benefit
As many of you know, one of the things I most like to sell are old yearbooks. They are fun for many reasons - they are a window into the past, people like them for genealogy research, and sometimes you even find a celebrity as he or her was in high school. (In fact I just wrote a piece about selling yearbooks for Lynn Dralle's newsletter..you can read it at http://www.thequeenofauctions.com/articlepages/ezinev3is15.html. Scroll down a bit to see it).
Certain schools' yearbooks are known for selling more than others. One of those schools is West Point, otherwise known as the United States Military Academy or USMA. It's known for graduating a slew of famous people -- not just military leaders, but politicians, sports figures, astronauts and even some U.S. presidents. A sampling of some of the most famous:
- Ulysses S. Grant, Class of 1843
- Jefferson Davis, Class of 1829
- Dwight Eisenhower, Class of 1915. 34th President of the United States (1953-1961)
- Montgomery Blair, Class of 1835. U.S. Postmaster General (1861-1864)
- William Tecumseh Sherman, Class of 1840. U.S. Secretary of War (1869)
- Alexander Haig, Class of 1947. U.S. Secretary of State (1981-1982)
- Buzz Aldrin
- Omar Bradley
- Wesley Clark
- John J. Pershing
- Douglas MacArthur
- H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr.
Anyhow, the estate sale I mentioned earlier contained many, many military-related books, and most notably to me, West Point yearbooks, alumni books, directories, and books published by West Point's press.
From research I've done on eBay yearbooks, I knew that West Point yearbooks do very well, both because they often contain famous people, but they may have information on or photos of famous graduates who, for example, gave the graduation speech that year. For example, one of the yearbooks I found at the sale was dated 1945, and General Omar Bradley, one of the famous generals from World War II, gave the address that year.
OK, so just for fun, let's look at some other recent West Point yearbook prices on eBay:
Wow: one auction that is currently still going is of an original photograph yearbook/scrapbook of a 1900 cadet- it's already bid to $599! And it doesn't end for 5 days.
- ORIGINAL 1900 WEST POINT PHOTO AUTOGRAPH YEARBOOK
100% REAL PHOTOS PERSONAL BOOK OF FRANCIS A POPE CADET 1 bid [current auction] $599.00
Antique West Point Yearbook, The Howitzer, 1895, Rare 11 $242.50
1919 Howitzer West Point Yearbook 13 $76.00
1957 West Point Howitzer Year book and other papers 7 $52.01
USMA West Point 1945 1975 30 years yearbook 5 $37.69
1931 Howitzer - West Point - USMA - U S Army Year Book 6 $36.50
THE FIRST TEN 1945-1955 USMA WEST POINT YEARBOOK 4 $19.31
[this is actually an alumni yearbook of the first ten years after graduation]
Here's something cool: that 1945 - 1975 book price was my auction! It was one of the alumni yearbooks, and I picked it up at the sale. I also picked up a number of other military books -- some were about specific wars -- the Civil War, Vietnam, etc., and one was an atlas with maps of the Napoleonic Wars. I sold that to someone in Italy.
OK, so we get that West Point yearbooks are good, but I concede you will probably not come across them frequently. However, military-related books can be found a lot of places. And don't forget to look for brochures, post cards, clippings, and the like. For example, an old travel brochure or set of brochures from National battlefields might do well.
Another kind of militaria that can sell well is medals and uniforms. I am just starting to learn about these, but I have met people at estate sales who look only for these.
Poke around the Collectibles > Militaria category to get an idea what I'm talking about here.
Some recent highest sales:
- Military Cross, British War medal and Victory medal
Nice collection of medals named to 2nd Lieut G Bennett 8 $1,809.87
- Military Medal German antique 1914 23 $777.00
- Lot of 8 Russian Order Medals+ Original Military Doc
~Extremely Rare~One Person's Medals+Original Documents 13 $595.00
- Military Medal German? antique 1833 16 $540.00
- 9th Bn. Northumberland Fusiliers WW1 Military Medal 2 $460.00
- 1895 G.A.R GAR 29th National Encampment Military Medal 11 $400.00
- 70120529: Military Medal, G.V.R. (47010 Cpl. W. 6 $340.48
- Canada Military Medals No Reserve 21 $306.00
- JAPANESE ARMY NAVY MILITARY GREAT EAST ASIA WAR MEDAL 17 $284.03
Bear in mind these are the top-selling medals. Of course not everything will sell for high prices. But if you come across a big stash of these at a sale somewhere and the price is such you can afford to take a risk on them, I say go for it. :)
I guess one of the key points I'd like to make here is, if you've never considered militaria, keep an open mind to it. It shows up often enough to make it worth your while to profit from. and I know military stuff isn't everyone's schtick, as it were -- maybe you're a devout pacifist or just don't feel a connection to it -- but these things have an historical, if not sentimental, relevance to people, not just in our country but in every country that has them.
2) Making More per Hour with Bigger Lots Update: How is Julia Doing?
Last month I wrote about trying to amp up our sales by grouping things together into sale-able lots. Or, one might say, to use a cliche, by working smarter, not harder. (Sorry!).
How did that strategy work for me last month? you're wondering. In a nutshell: it worked. I made more money last month than I've made in most previous months. I also put more time into my eBay listing than I usually do, which meant cutting back some on writing. But there are only so many hours in the day.
Let's look at some auctions that I think worked:
- Lipsticks. Remember those lipsticks I bought at the estate sale I wrote about last month? (If not, you can read the back issue on the yardsalers.net web site). Although I wasn't able to list them all in one bunch, I did list some multi-item auctions, and also sold them as individual pieces which could be relisted with a few clicks. The result? In the past month I sold about $163.40 in lipstick. Cost? About $32. Not a bad profit margin. And I still have several tubes left.
- Jewelry lots:
- carved ivory parure necklace bracelet earrings c 1950s - 1 $105.39
- Miriam Haskell signed art glass bracelet - 1 $52.02
These two jewelry auctions were the nicest jewelry I had up; one because it was genuine ivory; the other because it was a name designer who is collectible. I paid about $12 for the ivory set, and about $16 for the Haskell, so that's a profit of about $129.
- Winston Churchill History English Speaking Peoples 1st - 1 $41.50
My new rule of thumb is to buy Winston just about wherever I see him. While I was running one Winston auction for another set, his World War II series, I had an ebayer ask me a question about which edition they were. As we chatted via emails, it came out that he makes $300,000 per year via Winston Churchill alone!
Those are among the auctions that worked for me. What didn't work so well? I still made some profits on these, but not as much as I would have liked:
- Costume jewelry: I sold 3 lots for about $12, $17, and $17 respecitively. They were things like vintage '50s-era clip-on earrings and necklaces. Even the signed Trifari pieces didn't do as well as I was hoping. In looking at all the similar auctions, I've decided the marketplace is flooded with grandma's jewelry coming out of old jewelry boxes everywhere, and unless the piece is signed, genuine materials, or unique in some other way, I don't think I'll bother with it.
- Old perfumes: I haven't sold them all yet, but the bottles that were partially full only went for around $10-$16 -- not worth my while. I'll still look for fine crystal bottles, and unused bottles, though.
So those are this month's lessons. Overall I'm on track to make more money next month, as well. But I'd like to see each month get to a new level. How are your "smarter, not harder" auctions going? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know!
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3) Reader Mail: I Love Cookbooks! JuliasAuctionLinks and Delcampe
Reader Sara Croft of www.OrphanTreasures.com has sent us a wonderful piece about cookbooks, entitled, appropriately, "I Love Cookbooks." ABEbooks, www.Abebooks.com, had originally asked her to write it. I thank Sara for writing this, and hope she will send us more in the future, as she has hinted.
I Love Cookbooks
My path to love of cookbooks took a roundabout way. In 1990 or so my husband and I were newlyweds, and as a hobby we could do together, we began going to estate sales. Before long we added yard sales, conservatorís sales, auctions, and even thrift stores. We were spending up to 18 hours a week collecting stuff to sell on eBay. Soon we were also selling on ABEbooks and our own website.
In the meantime, our 6 daughters were all just getting out on their own. They needed a place to make extra money. So we hired almost all of them at one time or another to do data entry, packing, shipping and grunt labor. We called the fledgling company OrphanTreasures.com because we were selling merchandise of all kinds that needed a new home. We loved the thrill of this new underground economy.
Not only was it like panning for gold, what was most fascinating to me was to see how many things the sellers at these sales, especially the late estate owners, had been interested in as illustrated by their books. I noticed the number of cookbooks in every kitchen. Every sale had at least 5 and many had hundreds! Even if there were no books in the rest of the house, there were always cookbooks. Gradually I stopped buying anything but books, especially cookbooks.
As a book dealer I buy hundreds of used books a year, and over 50% of them have never been read. You know what I mean. Not true with cookbooks. Most of them will have at least a fingerprint or two. Whichever one was the favorite of the cook will be spotted, stained, have dog ears, extra recipes stuffed in, and be badly in need of a face washing. I just love seeing a book that has been well used. Itís like it has fulfilled its destiny. You can even tell when the cook was married by the publication date of her favorite cookbook.
Not only that, but you can follow the trend of her life by her cookbooks. Did she have a baby in the 60ís and make his food herself? Did she try vegetarianism in the 70ís? How many diets did she try? Did she get a job or become a soccer mom in the 80ís and need quick easy recipes? By the 90ís time was even tighter and she went to the Crockpot and the convection oven.. Then she started on the Cooking for Two or empty nest cookbooks, and the gourmet foreign food recipes. Then the Illness diet cookbooks for cancer, or high blood pressure or Diabetes. You can follow the whole arc of her existence.
This is not just true of our fictional estate holder. Cookbooks are often very important to the owners. In my experience, they are the second most likely book to be handed down in the family after the Bible. If the family is too poor to own a Bible, the vital statistics are likely to be saved in the family favorite cookbook. I had one Searchlight cookbook that had 60 years of family tree.
My degree is in Sociology, so before long, I realized that cookbooks not only reflected the life of the individual cook, but the social, emotional and economic state of the nation at large. For example, itís easy to spot the happy 70ís cookbooks with their pink, green and orange covers, and the recipe titles such as My Way apple pie or Love for Two Tuna. Weíll talk about that in future columns.
Of the 14,000 books I now have listed, 1,600 are cookbooks. Because Iím a tiny bit behind, I have at least another 1000 cookbooks in the garage and living room (along with 18000 other books). Another 800 have passed through here in the last 10 years on their way to new homes.
So who buys all these cookbooks? People wanting to recall the simplicity of the past, or people moving into a new place in life. And a whole bunch of people looking for just one important recipe. One more thing about cookbook buyers, they tend to be more grateful to get THE book or THE recipe back than anyone except the childrenís book buyers. I have letters with tears on them thanking me for making the book available.
If you have any questions or comments on cookbooks address them to me here. What was the most interesting cookbook you ever had? Does your family have a favorite cookbook that you all use? Is there one you are still looking for? Iíd be happy to hear from you, and even to have you correct me if Iím wrong about something. Donít ask me about recipes, though. I donít cook...
Thanks so much for the great article. Wow...that is a lot of books! I sell books too, as you know, but I have nowhere near that kind of room for that many. (My husband already thinks I have too many). LOL.
I too look for cookbooks at these sales. So far, tho, I can't say I've made a ton of money on them -- right now I look for the red cover Betty Crocker's or New Picture cookbooks...those tend to be solid sellers, as I'm sure u know, even if they're not in the best condition.
This next letter refers to the auction links directory site I created, which is at JuliasAuctionLinks.com:
I just checked your auction links page for the first time and I compliment
you for an outstanding job. I've been selling (mostly books and postcards)
online since 1999. It's been a wonderful and rewarding experience. I also
sell books out of my shop in SC.
I used to be an ebay store owner but recent changes in pricing and support
has steered me to other venues. I'm currently focusing most of my energy
building a store on a site that I believe is by far one of the one best
collectible venues online.
The site is delcampe, at http://www.delcampe.com.
You may already be familiar with this site but if you've never been there I
invite you to check it out.
Like all auction venues, the more exposure to the market place the better
and exposure on your auction links page would be greatly appreciated. I
would also like your opinion of this site.
Again thank you for your great service.
Bob from SC
I don't have my original reply to Bob, but I thanked him for the site idea and said that was what I was hoping would happen when I created the auction directory site -- that people would send me great sites like that one. So I will be adding delcampe to the directory very soon.
That's it for this issue. Until next time! - Julia
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YOUR FEEDBACK WANTED: What Else Do You Want to See in Yardsalers?
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eBooks by Julia L. Wilkinson:
[All my ebooks are offered at 1/2 price from their regular prices to the subscribers of this newsletter. If interested in any of them, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
- Making Big Bucks off Catalogs on eBay:
- Over 100 Books that Sell for $50-$100 on eBay
- Selling Kids Clothes on eBay: email me!
(these last two will be available for purchase via my site soon).
- How to Spot Fakes: email me!
What Sells on eBay for What: $8.95, 1/2 price from the $17.95 retail price.
My Life at AOL (available at amazon.com, booklocker.com, and 1stbooks.com)
Blogs, Blogs, and More Blogs
Check out My amazon.com Author Blog
Those of you who just can't get enough of my writing (are there any of you?) will be happy to know I now have a new blog on amazon.com. Amazon.com has created an "author blog" tool for authors to...well, blog. You'll see it if you bring up either of my books on the amazon site, but for good measure, it's at: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1593270550. (Scroll down to "amazonConnect").
My GoWholesale Blog
You can also check out my typepad blog, "bidbits": bidbits
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Copyright 2007 Julia L. Wilkinson
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