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Selling on eBay

If you don't want to sell to the trade, or your item isn't valuable enough for a commission sale, then you can try eBay. We had an eBay shop for a few years and, although it was very time-consuming, eBay did work.


What sells on eBay?


Well, antiques or vintage goods that people want! If you’ve got a pretty vase with a crack by an unknown potter, you have an uphill task. If you have a ghastly piece of costume jewellery with Chanel’s name on it, there will be someone out there who will bid on it. The item has to be searchable and it has to be quality. For the collectables market, it’s much the same, with condition and rarity linked to provenance: celebrity sells. We don’t recommend selling things that ‘work’ like clocks or watches, nor bulky items such as furniture and carpets.


How does eBay ensure quality?


You might think that eBay is for lower-quality items that nobody wants, but it’s not like that. Sellers are rated by buyers on every sale and so they cannot afford to try and slip one past you. In a live auction, high street antiques shop or an antiques fair (or even a car boot sale) it’s ‘caveat emptor’, ‘buyer beware’. You are given the opportunity to inspect what you’re buying then make a bid or agree a price. Usually that’s it. Spot a defect when you get home and you’ve got a battle ahead (not with us of course). On eBay, if you spot the defect when the item arrives through the post, you can send it back for a full refund. That means that reputable sellers make sure they describe any defects and photograph them. Buy from a UK-based seller who has sold hundreds of items and has a good feedback score and there’s no safer place to trade.

So if you decide to sell, you need a good camera and take honest pictures. DO NOT HIDE DEFECTS.


Selling on eBay


There are two ways to sell on eBay – auction or ‘Buy it now’. Buy it now is just an online shop and most people have used it as an alternative to Amazon or the High Street. It is very easy to do this yourself. Not everyone wants the hassle and it takes time to build up an impressive seller’s feedback score. You have to describe and have 1-10 photographs of each item. You have to pay the listing cost and eBay’s Final Value Fee and the PayPal charges. Postage and packing is paid by the buyer, but eBay charge 10%. You have the option of adding a ‘Buy it now’ price.


Can I set a reserve price?


You can choose one or two listing strategies, both of which can work well. You can set a reserve like in a traditional auction. eBay puts a label next to the current bid price that tells a buyer if the reserve has been met. eBay charges a percentage of the reserve price. Most items on eBay have no reserve, and here again you have two options. You want to sell a silver vinaigrette which you hope will sell for £250, you can start it at £150 or even 99p. If you look at eBay, you will see that there is an active market in vinaigrettes, so are you prepared to take the risk of starting at 99p? Many do. You will then have many bids and potential buyers will add it to their ‘Watch list’. Visible competition on eBay drives up prices just like it does on the floor of a traditional auction room.

Back to Sellling your antiques   Find out about Commission Sales

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