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This is my second article about trading royal memorabilia on eBay and other online auctions. We're going to explore just what items are really tradable, how and where to find your stock and mention some definite pitfalls to avoid.
As you already know, a vast range of products has been produced to commemorate royalty. You could decide to specialise in silver, plates, dolls, stamps, books, coins, jewellery, postcards, mugs, tea towels, glass, tins / boxes for confectionery, photographs, T-shirts, paintings, newspapers, videos, royal trading cards and I'm sure you can also think of other categories. The list is extensive.
The more popular items have been produced in great numbers, so they're often easy to find and moderately priced. This means that you can quickly create a varied assortment of collectibles without having to spend too much. But in the long run, the most desirable and highest appreciating items have tended to be pottery/china, tins/boxes and glassware.
You need to be selective about what you trade. Items decorated with a royal portrait are more likely to attract good buyer interest than those without. If there is also an inscription, giving the name, date, special occasion etc, then this will also improve its saleability.
Remember too that the more substantial and permanent the item, the better chance it has of selling. Generally, items of pottery, china, glass are more sought after then say cloth or paper items such as photographs and autographs.
If you can, try to deal with memorabilia that already has a 'second chance' profit factor. For example, a Wedgwood or Royal Worcester commemorative plate or mug is already valuable purely from a manufacturers' viewpoint. The royal connection can simply add that extra icing on the profit cake!
So, where do we source our royal memorabilia?
For a start, have a good look around your own home. You might get a pleasant surprise at just what you can find. Charles and Diana items from 1981 are now beginning to rise in value and most of us bought something to commemorate this royal event. So check your cupboards, attic and garden shed.
Also, ask your friends and relatives if they have any items they want to sell. You could buy them for resale or consider selling them on their behalf through your online auction account. If nothing else, you can gain some valuable selling experience and a 'feel' for this market.
It's also a good idea to have a search around eBay itself and other auction sites for items. You can buy on one site, hopefully at a bargain price, and then relist on another and make a quick profit.
I've found that British royal items tend to sell better on eBay but for slightly less on eBay.co.uk. Using the other national sites tends to produce a poor response with very few bids.
If you have decided to trade in the more expensive, quality items (fine china, food boxes, glass etc) then offline auctions and antique shops can be a good source for stock. Offline auctions would be my preference as you have more chance of a bargain. A good antique dealer tends to know the value of his stock so the opportunity for buying at the 'right' price is more limited.
The saying 'Knowledge is Power' is definitely true in your stock hunting. It's always preferable to specialise, so that when an item appears in an offline auction, you have a realistic idea of what it's worth. You can then use your in depth knowledge to buy at the best price and then make a good profit from your online sale.
Of course, don't forget your local junk shops, jumble sales, car boot sales, garage sales and charity shops in your search for stock. Bargains can still be found especially items relating to the present British Queen and the late Princess Diana. I recently bought a biscuit tin with a lid portrait of Prince Philip for just a £1 in a charity shop. It dated from around 1955 and I sold it for a very nice profit. Bargains are still to be found out there.
And a good tip when trading royal collectibles is to choose an area that is interesting and appeals to you. You can very quickly become an 'expert' in your own field and easily spot potential when trawling the junk and second hand shops. If you buy interesting items in good condition then a profitable sale is almost guaranteed.
Are there items you should definitely watch out for?
Memorabilia associated with King George III and the early reign of Queen Victoria are valuable if you can find them. Only a few items were produced to commemorate Victoria's coronation and the royal births. Not many have survived so prices can be high. A Queen Victoria coronation mug can easily demand £800 plus depending upon condition. So keep your eyes open!
Is there a down side in dealing in royal memorabilia?
Well, if you decide to get involved, you must be aware that there are many fakes and reproductions. This is especially true of the more impermanent items such as letters, cards, photographs and autographs. Items related to Princess Diana are a particular favorite of the unscrupulous forger and she is reported to be the 'most faked' royal ever with large quantities of bogus letters, autographs and signed photographs in existence.
So how can you safeguard against being duped?
Knowledge, research and common sense are your best defence. In the case of autographs, you can easily compare signatures and similar items with each other. Printed signatures are easily spotted, as they are sharp and distinct. Real signatures will often 'bleed' - the ink runs slightly from the stroke of the pen. This certainly helps you to check whether that royal signature is genuine or just a facsimile.
As a general rule, take care when you buy and do your homework if you intend to spend a lot of money. And the legal maxim -'Buyer Beware' - just about sums up the attitude you should adopt when searching for your royal items.
In my final article about royal memorabilia, I will be discussing the importance of selecting the right category for your listing so that you get the best prices for your items. And I'll also mention several useful websites to help you become more effective as a royal memorabilia trader.
Until then, wishing you every success.
With 30 years of business experience, online auctions and information marketing have now become my passion. I'm still learning and happy to help others if I can.
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