Monday, March 23, 2009

Is eBay in Trouble?

Howdy Folks,
I just finished reading one of the online newsletters that I receive, and I have to say, that I am not all that surprised at what I read. In fact, the article seemed to validate something that I have been saying for quite some time. That eBay has changed their primary focus to the larger online retailers, and has been catering to their needs and whims, all while largely ignoring those of us who are smaller retailers. In effect, eBay is abandoning it's core group of sellers. Those how made eBay what it is. In the words of Stephen King's "Gunslinger", Roland, eBay has "forgotten the face of their father."

I would encourage all of my readers to read the article I am talking about. (Click here to read it). And be sure to click on the links in the article for some further insight and comments about the article. Since most of us still use (or are used by) eBay, I think that by keeping tabs on eBay's new direction, will help us to keep a leg up on what's going on, and help us to adapt and hopefully maintain our sales. After all, that's what its all about isn't it?

Until next time, thanks for stopping by, and don't forget to leave your comments and ratings for these articles. They are always welcome and appreciated.

Adios Amigos y Amigas,
Whiskey Jack

Today's Word of Wisdom: "When ya think yore up ahead of the herd, it's always a good idea to take a look behind you and see if they are still followin'."

Friday, March 20, 2009


Today I visited, and that is the subject of today’s article. Actually I have visited this wonderful web site many times, and I just keep going back. Why? Because it is one of the best antiques and collectibles web sites around today! Now, Collectics is not a new site, and mine is definitely not the first review of this site. World Antiques Weekly said about Collectics:

"Antiques, collectibles, antique and vintage jewelry, and home furnishings in a large, eclectic antique shop and mall, collector bookstore, collecting information, prices and values, antique shops and jewelry stores directory, antique collector quiz, and Art Deco, Art Nouveau, and Tiffany online museums. Quality, selection, and discount prices make Collectics our top antiques and collectibles web site. It's just plain fun!"

And Collectibles Guide 2009 had this to say:

"Best online shopping for antiques and collectibles, featuring antique, vintage, and retro jewelry, bakelite and lucite, clothing, dinnerware, kitchenware, ceramics, glass, art, memorabilia, and home decor -- with prices 30% less than your local antique shop or thrift store plus free shipping."

So as you can see, I am not the only one enamored with this site! Rather than repeat what the web site’s “about” page says, I think they say it best when describing their site:

“Founded in 1998 by Karen Lee, Collectics is one of the Internet's largest and most diverse online shopping and resource destinations for finer antiques and collectibles. Collectics brings you an eclectic array of collecting and home decorating ideas from the finer estates of the eastern seabord as well as select consignments from around the world. Those of us who work with Karen don't always understand some of the things that catch Karen's eye, but our many long time repeat customers long since convinced us that you can sell L. C. Tiffany Favrile glass and $15 salt & pepper shakers on the same site. In fact, Karen personally vets all the inventory on the site, an important aspect of our business often mentioned in letters from our clients who have been deceived through misrepresentations and reproductions elsewhere.

Our main Antique & Vintage Shop and Mall offers thousands of finer antiques and collectibles in over 30 categories, at prices 30% or more below typical antique mall prices- all with free shipping within the continental United States. The Antiques & Collectibles Bookstore sells only the best reference books and price guides on antiques and collectibles, compiled by top dealers and auction houses. Don't miss our exclusive Collector Book Reviews on all the top dealer reference books! You can learn about major artists, manufacturers, and design periods on our Antiques Information & Education pages, while Collector Books Topic Search and our unique Antique Price Guides Slideshow help you find the best reference books by manufacturer or type of collecting. The Art Deco & Art Nouveau Museum 1890-1935 displays the best design of the Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and Arts & Crafts periods and features Tiffany, Handel, and Pairpoint lamps. Learn the life history of Louis Comfort Tiffany and see an exhibit of famous Tiffany Studios lamps and Favrile glass in our Tiffany Lamps & Glass Museum. If you're planning a trip or just out for adventure in your own area, use our Museum & Historic Site Directory to locate museums, national parks, historic homes, and other attractions by state and city across the U. S.

The Collectics Group has won numerous industry awards for top online shopping sites, plus technical awards for web site design and operation. We're glad you're visiting us and look forward to serving you, and your satisfaction is always guaranteed. Collectics Gift Certificates are a great way to let your gift recipient select something they really want from our diverse inventory, and enjoy playing the Collectics Quiz each month to win a free $100 Collectics Gift Certificate.

Thanks for visiting and shopping at Collectics!”

Believe me when I say that every word of this is true! In fact, I think they have understated it a bit.

One of the main areas of the site that I visit most is their “Antiques Information & Education” area

Included in this area are 96 different topic pages ranging from Amberina Glass to Bakelite to Depression Glass to Limoges. Collectics “Antiques Information and Education area of the best sources of information on Antiques and Collectibles on the web today, and well worth the repeat visit.

In addition to the information and education area, also take some time to visit the online museums and directories area. In this area you will find an online museum of Art Deco and Art Nouveau pieces, an online museum of Tiffany Lamps and Glass, a Museum and Historic site, by state, directory, and a collecting and designing directory featuring a directoryof the best in Antiques – Collectibles – and Thrift malls, fairs, shops, stores and markets. An invaluable resource for both the collector and the dealer.

From the antiques and collectibles bookstore to the collector books topic search, and the collector book reviews, it is possible to find just about any reference book on antiques and collectibles you might possibly need or want. And, when checking the book reviews, it is possible to simply scroll your mouse icon over the photo of the book in question and get a quick summary of its availability and price from Amazon.

The primary reason most folks visit Collectics, however, is their Antiques & Collectibles Mall. The mall is fun to browse around and see what’s what. Like window shopping in a huge antiques mall, right from the comfort of your home computer. I did find some of the prices a bit high, but I assume that is to offset the free shipping offered by the site. On the other hand, however, I did find a few good bargains.

All in all, I found to be a fun and enjoyable site to visit, and spend some time at, and I definitely plan to visit often!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Collectible Shaving Mugs

Today I'd like to talk a little bit about shaving mugs.

As many of you know from reading this blog, I have recently become “retired” from my job of 18 years (22 years total in the field). As a recently retired fella, I have really begun to look at where I can save a couple of bucks. One of those areas is shaving. Currently I have one of those fancy Mach 3 razors. You know the ones I’m talking about. These are the ones that you have to pay $10 - $15 just to buy replacement blades. Well, not anymore! I picked up a vintage safety razor, a pack of 10 new blades, a shaving mug, and some (here is were I splurged) custom made Bay Rum shaving soap. All of this cost only $10. Less than a pack of 5 replacement blades for my Mach 3.

Not only am I saving money, but I’m getting a better shave. If you’re wondering where all this is leading, it’s this – shaving used to be an art. One of the “Manley Arts.” A gentlemen’s art if you will. And something that has somehow been lost over the ages. Each morning as I lay out my shaving equipment I look at my vintage shaving mug, and I think about what a work of art these little mugs are, and that’s what I want to talk about today. Shaving mugs. Specifically, vintage shaving mugs. It’s amazing the prices that these things can command these days. I got lucky. Real lucky. I found one at a local Goodwill that the workers apparently thought was just an oversized coffee mug, and they had a .49 cent price tag on it. Needless to say I snatched that up right quick! (It just goes to show that there are still treasures to be had at Thrift Stores!).

Shaving mugs have a long history throughout the world, and even in this country. From the late 19th century through the early 20th century, almost every man owned a shaving mug. Either at home, or at his local barbershop. And some of these little beauties can fetch a pretty penny. Today, collectible shaving mugs can bring anywhere between $1.00 - $9,000, depending upon the age, condition, rarity, and style of shaving mug.

Essentially there are five styles of shaving mugs that are collected today. These are Decorated Mugs, Occupational Mugs, Fraternal Mugs, Scuttle Mugs, and Advertising Mugs. There are others, of course, such as metal mugs (tin, graniteware, and silver), but the market for these types seems to be more limited, although the right one could bring a substantial reward. Remember to always do your research before investing in a collectible whether for yourself or to resell.

Types of Mugs:

Decorated mugs

Originally, decorated shaving mugs came from England, France, Germany and Austria. Although they were rarely used before the late 19th century, after they became popular, these ceramic mugs were manufactured in Europe and then imported, undecorated, into the United States. Once here, they were decorated with the owner’s name and often with a hand painted over-glazed enamel decoration of some sort. Usually these decorations included floral, scenic, animal, or comic designs. My research has shown that current prices for decorated shaving mugs range from $1.00 - $100.00+

Occupational mugs

Occupational shaving mugs are among the most sought after and popular shaving mugs collected today. They are almost always ceramic / porcelain, and will feature as a decoration the name of a particular profession or occupation, as well as a scene related to that occupation. The majority of occupational shaving mugs represent middle-class professions. A few upper and lower class professions were also made, but these are a rarity. My research has shown that current prices for occupational shaving mugs range from $50.00 - $9000.00+

Fraternal mugs

Fraternal shaving mugs were owned by members of fraternal organizations such as the Masons, the Odd Fellows, the B.P.O.E. (Elks Lodge), and others. Fraternal mugs were decorated with the organizational logo, and often the owners name. These decorations were usually hand painted. My research has shown that current prices for fraternal shaving mugs range from $10.00 - $200.00+

Scuttle mugs

An unusually shaped shaving mug, scuttle mugs are actually quite unique. Scuttle mugs can be plain or decorated. As for shape, these mugs feature what looks like a second mug attached to the main mug. The mug features a shallow dish area in the top, with holes in the bottom of the dish area. This is where the soap goes, and the holes are designed to help drain off water and excess soap. After shaving, the water and excess soap is poured out through the “secondary” mug area, and the brush is then stored in this area. My research has shown that current prices for scuttle shaving mugs range from $5.00 - $1000.00+

Advertising Mugs

Often used as sales promotions for shaving soap manufacturers , Advertising Shaving Mugs were given away to customers. These were generally inexpensive ceramic mugs that the manufacturers hoped would convince their customers to continue purchasing their product. My research has shown that current prices for scuttle shaving mugs range from $1.00 - $200.00+

For more information on collecting shaving mugs, visit the National Shaving Mug Collector’s Association. They have a pretty cool site, and I personally found my visit to this site to be quite enjoyable.

Or, you may want to invest in a couple of good books on shaving mugs. Some of these include:

Occupational Shaving Mugs by W. Porter Ware

Antique Shaving Mugs of the United States by Robert Blake Powell

Occupational and Fraternal Shaving Mugs by Robert Blake Powell

Barber Shop History and Antiques by Chris Jones

The Best of Shaving Mugs (Schiffer Book for Collectors) by Keith Estep

The Shaving Mug and Barber Bottle Book by Keith Estep

Some Collectible Shaving Mugs that recently sold on eBay:

Machinist Occupational Shaving Mug & Personal After Shave Bottle

16 Bids, Sold for $1,287.99


21 Bids, Sold for $910.00


12 Bids, Sold for $586.90

Well, that's about it for now, so until next time Pards,
Whiskey Jack

Today's Word of Wisdom: "It's always best to keeps skunks, lawyers and bankers at a distance."