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Quick Guide to Selling Antiques on eBay

Antiques are one of the most hot selling items on eBay. They’re loved by buyers around the world. They’re equally loved by sellers who make a good living selling them. In fact, it’s not uncommon for eBay sellers to source items for a couple of dollars and resell them for $50-$100 or more.

If you want to try your hand at selling antiques on eBay (or another marketplace), check out my quick guide below.

Why do collectibles sell well on eBay?

Imagine what it would be like trying to buy antique items a decade ago: You’d have a few local stores nearby that you could take a look at, but if those stores didn’t have your antiques of choice, you would have to travel around in order to find what you are looking for. If you were a really keen collector, you might attend an annual collectors convention and swap, buy and sell with other collectors.

Imagine collector’s delight when suddenly, every kind of collectible from every time period and every category was available in one place. Better yet, that one place was online so collector’s could buy from the comfort of their own home - eBay.com!

Collector’s also love that when they buy on eBay, they can purchase products at a real market value that is based on demand. Prior to eBay and other online markets, prices for collectibles were easily inflated by antique dealers looking to make a quick buck.

In short, collectibles are popular on eBay because it makes life easier for collectors!

What collectibles sell best?

Unless you’re an antique hobbyist, you might not have a strong idea of what to sell so I've listed some ideas below, based on eBay data that indicates that these items sell well. If you aren’t quite sure what these items are, surf around these categories on eBay to get a good idea.

Asian Antiques

Among the top sellers are: Chinese vases and statues, Japanese prints, vases and swords, Southeast Asian amulets, and statues.

Silver

Among the top sellers are: Sterling silver flatware, Russian coins, silver plate flatware and silver plate tea pots and sets.

Decorative Arts

Ceramic and porcelain figurines, ceramic and porcelain plates and chargers, glass vases.

What doesn’t sell so well:

While there will always be exceptions, the following antique sub-categories don’t sell as well on eBay: (If you aren't sure what these are, run a search on eBay and steer clear on them when you are sourcing items to sell). 

  • Books and manuscripts
  • Ethnographic
  • Home and Hearth
  • Linens and Textiles
  • Maps, Atlases and Globes
  • Maritime
  • Musical Instruments
  • Reproduction Antiques
  • Science and Medicine

Where can you source collectible items to resell on eBay?

Obviously sourcing antiques to resell is a little different to sourcing DVDs or iPhone cases. Sourcing collectibles to resell on eBay is a little more time-consuming, but also really fun.

Yard sales, flea markets, school fairs, and your local antique stores are treasure troves of items that you can buy for pennies on the dollar and resell for a profit!

If you have a good eye for what sells, the sky is the limit for what you can earn.

Before you set out to source antiques for re-selling, surf around eBay and check out what items are getting all the bids. What item’s auctions are about to end without a single bid? Take a look at eBay completed listings to see what items sell well and which do not.

You should be able to spot trends on colors, time periods and other item attributes and pin-point what buyers are looking for.

Even better, if you can take a smart phone with you when you are out hunting for antiques, you can compare items with similar items currently listed on eBay, you will lower your risk of buying dud items.

Tips for selling antique items

As with all items on eBay, presentation and photography is crucial. When you sell antiques, you don’t have the privilege of using manufacturers photos in your product listings, you need to do the photography yourself.

Help to attract buyers and add value to your products by styling them well. Put the products into context where you can. For example, if you are selling a pair of candlesticks, style them by putting them on a mantelpiece or dining table with complementary items surrounding them. If you are selling a vase, style the vase with flowers (fresh or faux, either is fine) and sell the buyer how the item could be used.

Remember to take photos of the item on its own also, so that buyers can see it clearly. You should also clarify in your product listing that accessories shown in your photos are not included. For more tips on selling antiques or any other items online, check out our video training course Online Selling Tactics

Any antique sellers out there? How are your sales looking this month?

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3 Comments Add your comment
My parents were in the antiques business for many years. Growing up I thought it was just junk. I did pay attention though and now in the last few years I have decided to follow in their footsteps. I opened my eBay store in 2009 and had to take a break. I just reopened my eBay account and ready to get it going again. The secret is to find those unique items that no-one else really sells. Having been around it for many years certainly helps but don't be afraid to dive in. Garage sales are the best and least expensive source for these types of items. You will purchase at least ten plus items for every good item you find. I have found some spectacular items to sell for $5.00 or less. Furthermore it's just great fun. Wish all my fellow Salehoo partners the best of luck in your journeys. Happy Finding. Reply
Site Admin
TAWDSCollectiblesandMore, Great story, thanks for sharing. How lovely that you are following your parent's footsteps, albeit in a digital form! Thanks for your tips and encouragement for other readers. All the best. Reply
Was taught this lesson well by my best friend who I was visiting. We went out one weekend hitting all the local yard sales to look for items he could sell on eBay. I saw all manner of items that would have been great for that purpose, but he's more focused. As the day went on, no purchase ... Then, at one place, he picked up a small porcelain bowl that was all dirty and really didn't look like much. He talked to the lady at the yard sale and ended up buying it for a quarter. He then told me he was ready to go home. This, of course, kind of surprised me. Once we returned to his house, he washed and polished the bowl. Then after a few snapshots were taken, he jumped on eBay and listed it. That 25 cent bowl sold for over $100.00 !! As he pointed out to me, it's all about "KNOWING" what to look for and to not be distracted by all the other 'possibles'. Turns out, he rarely goes out that he doesn't find a piece to sell. Reply
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