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:</b> Abraham Lincoln, <i>Emancipation Proclamation by the President of the United States,</i> pamphlet, 1862. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the distinguished Ruby-Jackson family, Portland, Maine, 1853-1961. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens & the persons who served him, 1866-1907. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Autograph book with inscriptions by orators Moses Roper & Peter Williams, 1821-54. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Archive of letters, postcards, and greeting cards sent by Romare Bearden, 1949-87. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br>E. Simms Campbell, <i>A Night-Club Map of Harlem,</i> in inaugural issue of Manhattan, 1933. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Papers of the comedian Nipsey Russell, including a letter from MLK, 1929-2000. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Early German-American anti-slavery broadside, <i>Sclaven-Handel,</i> Philadelphia, 1794. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Edmonia Lewis, prominent sculptor, carte-de-visite by Henry Rocher, c. 1866-71. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br><i>The Black Panther: Black Community News Service,</i> 44 issues, San Francisco, 1967-1971. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Withers, <i>I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike,</i> silver print, 1968. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> <i>March For Freedom Now!,</i> poster for the 1960 Republican Convention. $4,000 to $6,000.

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