Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2013 Issue

More Tips from an eBay Power Seller

1weirdtechno

1930s Coke ad features an electric permanent wave machine.

A while back I wrote as an eBay power seller and gave a few tips I’d learned along the way from more than 14 years of selling on that the site. At this writing I have a 100% positive feedback rating and I’m pushing my 1,000th customer review; eBay is still my preferred vehicle for communicating with prospective buyers with a taste for books and older paper wares.

Here’s a second list of tips that may help you as an eBay seller.

1. Take those small advantages

The one that comes most quickly to mind is the relatively recent addition of the legal size flat rate envelope. It measures 15 x 9.5” compared with the regular flat rate size of 12 x 9.5.” That might not seem like a big difference, but it holds quite a bit more and it expands the size of books and papers that will fit easily and conveniently and travel rapidly in the mail. You probably won’t find the legal size flat rate envelope at your local post office; they are available free on line from the USPS www.usps.com/ship/priority-mail-flat.htm - then click the “Order Supplies” button. You may not use them often but they do come in very handy.

The international rates for priority mail, even in flat rate boxes and envelopes, have become prohibitive, but the 1st class international package rate, while still stiff, is not nearly as costly as priority and anything up to four pounds can go as a 1st class package. The surprising thing to me is how many people are willing to pay the freight. Even with the huge international rate increases I sold as much or more abroad as in prior years.

It helps to understand that in the eyes of the post office anything that is not a letter—anything stiff -- is a package. The 1st class domestic package is also a good value, but inside the US the weight limit is 13 oz. - ideal for ephemera - but not so great for books.

2. Don’t overlook magazines

Magazines are the seller's friend. I am constantly surprised by how many periodicals are thrown away or sold for next to nothing. There is a market for periodicals with specialized content -- be it trains, doll houses or acoustic guitar music.

Some of my best sales come from magazines and what comes out of magazines. Old or new, whole or in parts, it doesn’t matter - if the image or content is attractive. There seems to be an unlimited interest in bizarre technology of an earlier age. Take this Coke ad from the 1930s showing an electric permanent wave machine. The single sheet brought a better price than an entire issue.

The same was true for a Marilyn Monroe fold out by Richard Avedon. It came from a series of photos he made in the 1950s and later ran as a double gatefold insert in the New Yorker in 1994. It opened to over 15” wide and sold fast.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Francis Scott Key, <i>Star Spangled Banner,</i> first printing, c. 1814-16. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> William Sydney Porter, a.k.a. “O. Henry,” archive of drawings made to illustrate a lost mining memoir, c. 1883-84. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> [Bay Psalm Book], printed for Hezekiah Usher of Boston, Cambridge, c. 1648-65. $50,000 to $75,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, 1830. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>Noticia estraordinario,</i> probable first announcement in Mexico City of the fall of the Alamo, 1836. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Patrick Gass, first edition of earliest first-hand account of the Lewis and Clarke expedition, Pittsburgh, 1807. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Diploma from the Princeton Class of 1783, commencement attended by Washington & Continental Congress. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>Sprague Light Cavalry!</i> color-printed broadside, NY, 1863. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>The Lincoln & Johnson Union Campaign Songster,</i> Philadelphia, 1864. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Lucy Parsons, labor organizer, albumen cabinet card, New York, 1886. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Daniel L.F. Swift, journal as third mate on a Pacific Whaling voyage, 1848-1850. $3,000 to $4,0000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Two photos of Thomas Moran, Grand Canyon, silver prints, 1901. $1,500 to $2,500.
  • <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Helvelius. Two Autograph Letters Signed to Francis Aston, Royal Society Secretary, noting his feud with Robert Hooke, 5 pp total, 1685. $70,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Newton, Isaac. Autograph manuscript on God, 4 pp, c.1710, "In the beginning was the Word...."?$100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. First edition, first issue. Untrimmed copy in contemporary boards. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Lincoln, Abraham. Signed photograph, beardless portrait with Civil War provenance. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> IMPEACHMENT. Original engrossed copy of the first Andrew Johnson impeachment resolution vote. $120,000 to $180,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Mucha, Alphonse. 11 original pencil drawings for?<i>Andelicek z Baroku,</i> "Litte Baroque Angel," Prague, 1929. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Einstein, Albert. Annotated Galley Proofs for <i>The Meaning of Relativity.</i> 1921. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Silverstein, Shel. Original maquette for <i>The Giving Tree,</i> 34 original drawings. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Roth, Philip. Typed Manuscript with substantial autograph corrections for an unpublished sequel to <i>The Breast.</i> $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Taupin, Bernie. Autograph Manuscript, the original draft of lyrics for Elton John's "Candle in the Wind," 2 pp, 1973. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> HARVEY, WILLIAM. <i>De Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus Anatomica Exercitatio.</i> Padua: 1643. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> CESALPINO, ANDREA. <i>Peripateticarum Quaestionum Libri Quinque.</i> Venice: 1571. $30,000 to $40,000.

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