Sunday, May 11, 2008

Collecting Perfume Bottles

Perfume Bottles have been dated as far back as 1000 BC. The Egyptians used perfume in religious ceremonies quite lavishly. It is believed the Egyptians invented glass and quite possibly it was invented with the intent to hold scents created for these religious ceremonies. Perfume made the rounds from religion to fashion and soon the Greeks were making bottles out of clay and glass, many of the bottles were given an artistic touch and thus began the popular figural perfume bottles. The Romans believed perfume was an aphrodisiac and the containers were an important part of the experience. Exotic bottles from blown glass holding these magic scents enhanced the anticipated pleasure.
Today, many women around the world use perfume quite often. Bottles made today are usually glass or plastic, many have a push type spray. The higher end bottles are usually quality made, have fancy stoppers, sometimes have a satin feel and they always look quite elegant. The atomizer, a bulb connected to the top of a perfume bottle allows the perfume to spay when squeezed became quite popular from the 1920’s through the 1950’s.
Vintage commercial perfume bottles are quite popular today, collectors and decorators can find an assorted variety of perfume bottles from many era‘s. Their value is usually based on condition, however, content, packaging and labels should be intact to receive the highest value.
There are many research books on the subject of perfume bottles. Searching the library, bookstores and ebay are generally the best resources available to collectors. There is also a lending library from the International Perfume Bottle Association where members can borrow books and videotapes. There is an annual fee of $45 so this would be something for serious collectors to look into.
As always whatever you are buying to sell always do as much research on the subject as possible to get the maximum monetary benefit.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Buying, Selling and Collecting Coins

Coin collecting has been a hobby for many centuries in the world. Here in the United States it really didn’t become an actual hobby until about 1857 when the large size cent pieces were discontinued. When the discontinuance was announced many people had the foresight to gather a coin of each over-sized piece while they were still in circulation and wha-la, coin collecting was in.
The production of coins are made at factories that are referred to as “mints”. The first mint was established in Philadelphia in 1792. The first coins ever made in the US were half-dimes in 1792. The one-cent and half-cent pieces came next, made on a hand-operated press in 1793.
Other mints were established but were considered branch mints. The mint marks are important to collectors because there are not as many coins produced at those locations as at the main mint in Philadelphia.
The branch mints are “C” for Charlotte, North Carolina (on gold coins only). “CC” for Carson City, NV, “D” for Denver, Colorado, (there was also a “D” from 1838 to 1861 for gold coins produced at Dahlonega, GA). “O” for New Orleans, LA, “P” for Philadelphia, PA and “S” for San Francisco, CA. There is also a mint in West Point, New York where gold and silver coins are made. The proof sets have a “W” mint mark.

Being the main branch, coins from Philadelphia did not have a mint mark, however during 1942-1945 the “P” was added to the coin and in 1979 it was added to the Susan B. Anthony. Currently the “P” is once again in use on all coins produced in Philadelphia except for the penny. During 1965-1967 the coinage act of 1965 prohibited mint marks on any coins produced.
In addition to mint marks most coins have distinguishing marks all their own. Coin value is increased when such factors as age, limited circulation, placement of the marks and condition is considered.
If coin collecting is your hobby there are so many books and guides on the subject. There are also many clubs and coin shops. Many collectors and business’s are willing to trade their valuable coins for your valuable coins.

To get a true sense of coins, the history and how they are made the US Mint in Denver offers tours. The tour is a very interesting and educational for families of all ages. The tour is free but you must make reservations in advance and if you are 18 or older you must show ID and are subject to a security clearance to be able to participate in the tour. There are also a lot of strict rules, no pictures, cell phones, purses, or baby diaper bags. It just best to go in empty handed, leave everything locked in your car.
If you buy to resell and come across some old coins, I strongly advise going to the library and getting a book on coins, there are plenty of books on this subject. If you educate yourself you will definitely be surprised at the value of some of these coins and what people are willing to pay for them.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Buying & Selling Old Books

Books both old and new are highly collectible for many people. A large majority of people just have a love of reading while other's love to read but they also buy books as an investment. There are a variety of authors and subjects and most people who enjoy reading have their favorites. Old books are not always valuable, there are many old books that are literally worthless and many newer books that are worth quite a bit more now than when they came out a few years ago. The key to finding out which is which is to do a little research, especially if you are planning on selling for a profit or buying at deep discounts.
We have picked up some great buys at auctions but I always end up with lots of worthless books. There are only a few if any valuable books in a box when I buy them by the box load. Don’t get me wrong, I always make money on book lots but it’s not always a lot and this method of buying isn’t for everyone. Another really bad thing about buying books by the box load is they are heavy to carry, so keep in mind it might just be easier to buy books at an auction one at a time. You might pay a little more for one but you won’t have to figure out how to carry them and where to store or dispose of the ones that don’t sell.
Rather you are buying for your own collection or buying to sell be sure to buy books in very good condition. There is a rating system for books that I like to stick to. Fine condition is the best, these books are perfect as the day they came out. Near-fine books are in near-perfect condition, with the barest of wear to the covers or dust jackets. Very good shows some wear but the pages can’t be torn, the binding must be good and the dust jacket has to be present. Good condition books are average, there may be small tears or small stains but all the pages are intact. Books in poor condition will have major defects.
When selling it is wise to list everything possibly wrong with a book. When buying you will want to know all possible problems as well. Was it a previous library book, does it have various stamps, owner names, inscriptions, stains, rips, uneven pages. Is the dust cover missing or showing any defects? Are the pages yellowed? Is it a book club addition? Any of these things can take the value down.
As always I find the best place to do research on any item I’m interested in is eBay. I own several Huxford Old Book Value Guides. The last one I personally bought was in 2001. While the guide is full of values on a variety of books I never could get close to getting the value that was listed in the book. Ebay has such a competition in their book category, I’m just amazed at how many good books you can get for 99 cents on eBay. Of course if you do get one for a buck inquire about shipping charges before you buy. I notice a lot of the sellers are not trying to make money on their products anymore but on the shipping and handling charges.
I have found that old books with artist plates bring big bucks, we sold one last year for $400, and it was an antique book from the 1800’s. A child’s bedtime story book, I forget the name of the author and the title but it was from Norway and it has several colored plates inside. We only gave a couple of bucks for the whole box of books it came in so you see it is well worth the time to research box loads of books if one will bring that kind of money.