How to Properly Store Collectibles

When you’ve taken the trouble to put together a collection of prized items, whether it’s of sports memorabilia, artwork, ceramics, textiles, or other valuables, then you already know that the condition of a collectible item has a profound influence on its value. This means that knowing how to properly display and store your items is paramount to preserving their value, because improper conditions can cause irreversible damage. Here are the primary factors to watch out for:

Light

Excessive light can damage almost any kind of collectible. It fades artworks on paper as well as the dyes in textiles and original signatures on memorabilia. In addition, it can dry out organic materials such as leather, paper, wood, and cloth. Every kind of collectible should be stored away from direct sunlight. Artworks on paper should be framed with conservation or museum glass, which block UV rays, for additional protection. In general, try to find a low light location to display your collectibles, and do not leave display lighting on for extended periods of time.

Temperature

Extreme temperatures, whether they are hot or cold, can ruin your collectibles. This is why attics and garages make terrible storage places for these types of items. The ideal temperature for preserving delicate materials like paper, wood, and natural fibers is 64 degrees. If you’re storing collectibles in your home, that temperature is far too cool for comfort, but don’t worry if you can’t achieve that. Just scout out the room or area of your house that tends to stay consistently cool, because that will be the best spot to store or display your collection.

If you need to move your collection to a spot where the temperature is quite a bit different from its original location, do so gradually. Sudden temperature changes can cause cracks in the finish of ceramics and in glass, as well as negatively affecting other types of collectibles.

Humidity

To preserve collectibles, humidity needs to be at a happy medium of neither too damp nor too dry. Under damp conditions, mold grows, destructive insects breed, and metal rusts. Under dry conditions, organic materials shrink, crack, and become brittle. You’ll want a good balance of humidity (around 50 percent) whether your items are out on display or put away in storage.

Chemicals

Collectibles should not be cleaned the way you might clean other items in your home. Harsh chemicals can damage fragile materials. If you feel your items need care, start with a gentle dry clean—brushing dust away carefully with a soft paintbrush or blowing it away using a can of dry compressed air held at a safe distance from the item. If you feel that’s not enough, do some research or consult a professional before you proceed to trying anything further. For some items, removing the aged finish that develops over the years actually decreases their value, so don’t be hasty to scrub them clean.

At Auction King, we search out unique collectibles of all kinds to bring to our bidders at the lowest possible prices. We triple-check the authenticity of each item so you can bid with confidence on our secure online platform. Sign up today for a free online account to start bidding and winning!

The History of Collectible Milk Glass

Milk glass is a type of opaque glass that first originated in Venice in the 16th century. Despite the name, not all milk glass is white—even very old pieces can be found in alternative colors such as pink, blue, or brown. Although the genesis of this type of glass is quite old, the milk glass that is found in the collectible market today tends to date from the 19th and 20th centuries, and much of it was produced in America.

White milk glass became popular during the Victorian era because it was a beautiful and economical alternative to porcelain, which it resembles. (This is also the era when the term “milk glass” was coined to describe this type of glassware.) A wide variety of decorative pieces were made out of this type of glass, including glasses, dishes, vases, perfume bottles, and decorative boxes. During the Great Depression and into the 1940s, milk glass went out of vogue somewhat, only to enjoy a revival in both popularity and production in the 1950s and 1960s.

Because milk glass has enjoyed such a long history, the value of pieces can vary considerably depending on their origin and condition. Milk glass that dates from the 19th century is more valuable than that of more recent manufacture, and pieces that feature unusual patterns will fetch a higher price than more common ones. Some milk glass pieces were designed to commemorate historic events or highlight patriotic themes, such as dishes featuring the likeness of George Washington or memorial pieces for Presidents Lincoln and Garfield. These types can be quite valuable, depending on their rarity.

Different patterns of milk glass have become associated with particular manufacturers, such as Fenton’s Hobnail pattern, which it introduced in 1939 and soared to popularity in the 1950s. However, many iconic designs were copied and made by multiple manufacturers, such as covered dishes designed to look like nesting hens. Written guides and identification websites can help interested collectors learn about the variations in design and production during milk glass’s heyday.

The long history of milk glass can make it tricky to definitively identify an individual piece as being authentic. This has been complicated by the fact that as some glass manufacturers have gone out of business and their molds were sold off to other companies, some of which continued to produce new pieces with them. Some experts suggest looking through a piece of milk glass in sunlight to detect the iridescent color around the edges known as the “ring of fire,” which is supposed to distinguish older pieces from more recent ones. Makers’ marks on the glass can also help you pin down the date when a particular piece was made. However, if establishing an exact positive ID and value on a piece is important to you, you should take it to an appraiser for an expert examination.

Auction King seeks out unusual and attractive collectibles to bring to our clients at below-market prices on our convenient online platform. We verify the authenticity of our pieces so that you can rest assured that what you see is what you’ll get. We constantly update our selection with new finds from our extensive network of sources. Register for a free online account today to start bidding.

Top 5 Reasons to Purchase Fine Art at Auction

The online revolution is affecting the way we all do business, and the art world is no exception. Collectors are finding increasing opportunities for buying art online as galleries and auction houses realize that their buyers want to have the option of purchasing without having to turn up in person. Here are the top five reasons to buy fine art from an online auction:

  • Accessibility – Going to a physical space such as a gallery to view art can be both time-consuming and limiting. Depending on your location, it may even be impossible to get to a dealer who stocks the type of artwork you’re interested in. Online auctions give you the ability to view and bid on artworks that may be located in another county, state, or time zone, rather than being confined to only what can be found in your area.
  • Transparency – Galleries have been known to restrict the number of works available from artists and to hide information about the value of those works, making it difficult for art collectors to accurately assess the market. Browsing online auctions gives you the chance to compare and research, ultimately allowing you to make better-informed decisions.
  • Variety – When art dealers have to maintain physical space to display the artworks they have for sale, they have to make choices about what they’ll offer. Some will concentrate on particular artists, styles, or time periods, which leads to a narrower selection. Online auctions don’t have that constraint, and thus can offer a wider range of pieces to choose from.
  • Excitement! – When you buy at auction, the process itself is part of the appeal, from determining the items you’ll pursue, deciding on your bidding strategy, and monitoring the action. The thrill is heightened in a live auction, where you are bidding in real time against other collectors, all intent on winning the same item. When you do win, you not only have an artwork to treasure, but you’ll also have a story to tell.
  • Savings – While the media likes to talk up stories of famous artworks fetching jaw-dropping prices at auction, the reality is that most of the time, buying fine art at auction can save you money. Depending on why or by whom the art is being sold, it may be offered with no reserve price (the minimum amount a seller will accept) because the seller is eager to get whatever price they can. In addition, online auctions do not have to support the expense of maintaining a gallery space or similar physical location, which can drive up the fees that a dealer adds to the cost of every artwork they sell. An auction can be a great opportunity to get a stunning piece of art at far less than you would have imagined.

Auction King stocks an array of authenticated originals, prints, lithographs, etchings, and more. We’re constantly on the lookout for new high-quality pieces for our customers. Our secure proprietary bidding platform gives you the convenience of online bidding with confidentiality and confidence. Register for a free online account today to get started.

10 of the Rarest Gemstones in the World

Most of us are familiar with popular gemstones such as diamonds, rubies, and sapphires. However, the range of precious stones goes far beyond the types that are readily found in jewelry. Many beautiful gemstones are less well known simply because of their astounding rarity. Ten that you might not even have heard of are:

Larimar: Found only in the Dominican Republic, this variety of the silicate mineral pectolite can be white, light blue, blue-green, or deep blue. It was originally discovered in 1916 by a priest, but not mined at that time. The stone was rediscovered by a Dominican and a Peace Corps volunteer in 1974.

Tanzanite: Discovered in 1967 in the Mererani foothills of Tanzania, this variety of the mineral zoisite exhibits strong trichroism (meaning that it can appear either blue, violet, or burgundy, depending on how the crystal is oriented). The only area in which this gemstone can be found is a mere 4.3 by 1.2 miles.

Black opal: While white opals are fairly common, black opals, which have a black background color, are extremely rare. The vivid play-of-color that characterizes the most valuable opals stands out particularly well against a dark background, making these stones highly coveted.

Grandidierite: This mineral was first discovered in Madagascar in 1902, and named in honor of Alfred Grandidier, a French explorer. Grandidierite is a blue-green type of magnesium aluminum borosilicate that gets its color from trace amounts of iron. The few gem-quality examples of this mineral ever found have all come from Madagascar.

Alexandrite: First discovered in the Ural Mountains of Russia, this color-change variety of chrysoberyl was named in honor of Alexander II, the heir to the Russian throne. The gem can appear red or green, depending on the light source under which it is viewed. Although new deposits have been discovered since the original source was mined out, this gem is no less rare.

Benitoite: This gem is named for the San Benito River in California, near where it was first found in 1907. While the rare barium titanium silicate mineral has been found in other places, the only gem-quality examples come from a sole source in California, which closed down in 2005, making this gem even more difficult to find.

Painite: Found only in Myanmar, painite was identified as a new type of gemstone in 1957 from a single crystal specimen. Although more painite has been discovered over the last decade, much of it cannot be made into faceted gems due to heavy inclusions and fractures.

Red beryl: This extremely rare type of beryl gets its unusual color from trace amounts of manganese. It is found in gem-quality crystals in only one location in the world, the Wah Wah Mountains of Utah.

Taaffeite: Taaffeite is the only mineral known to have been first identified as a new type of gemstone from a cut and polished stone. The mauve stone had been misidentified as a spinel, but its discoverer, Richard Taaffe, noted qualities that distinguished it from that gemstone. It was eventually traced back to its source in Sri Lanka, but remains exceedingly rare.

Jeremejevite: Although this light purplish-blue mineral was first described in 1883, the first crystals found in Russia were tiny and not suitable for cutting. Sources in Namibia have since yielded jeremejevites that are large enough and of suitable quality for gemstones, but in quantities so small that it is still considered one of the rarest of all gemstones.

Whether you’re looking for unusual gems or a familiar favorite, Auction King has a wide selection of fine jewelry at below market prices. Our secure auction site allows you to bid in confidence from the comfort of your own home. Register today for a free online account and start bidding.

A Guide to Buying Watches at Online Auctions

Online auctions are democratizing the experience of buying luxury goods at auction—after all, if you no longer have to be in a specific place at a specific time in order to participate in an auction, you have far more opportunity to take part. An online auction can be a great way to find luxury watches at below-market prices, if you know the right approach to take. To get the most satisfaction out of purchasing a watch at an online auction, here’s what you need to know:

  1. Decide what you want: Luxury watches come in a wide variety of brands and general aesthetics. Choosing the type you prefer is the first step to guiding your decision on what to bid on. There is no right or wrong here, so don’t feel like you have to choose a particular watch just because it is popular with other collectors. While a luxury watch can be an investment, you shouldn’t only buy with potential resale value in mind. Watches can take a while to appreciate in value, so above all you should purchase something that you will enjoy owning.
  2. Research: Once you’ve identified the brand and model of watch you’re interested in, do some homework. Get a general sense of what price you could expect to pay, and how the condition of the watch could affect it. This will help you spot good deals—or rule out overpriced items—and set your budget.
  3. Identify items to bid on: Once you’ve decided what type of watch you’re in the market for, then you’re ready to look for specific watches to bid on. Examine the details of the item in advance to make sure it has both the features you’re interested in and is in acceptable condition. If you have any questions, ask them! A reputable dealer will be happy to answer any inquiries about the watches they have up for bid. Which brings us to the final point:
  4. Buy from a trusted source: High-value collectibles will always attract counterfeiters looking to make a quick buck off of trusting buyers. Make sure that the auction site you’re dealing with offers both verification of the authenticity of the watches they have for auction and secure bidding and payment methods. If the site seems defensive or not forthcoming about whether the watches they have on offer are genuine, that’s a red flag that they’re probably not.

When you take your time to consider your purchase carefully, buying a watch at an online auction can be a rewarding experience. At Auction King, we offer a wide and varying selection of luxury watches from iconic brands such as Rolex, Cartier, Bvlgari, and more, with bids starting as low as $1. Our proprietary bidding platform allows you to bid securely and privately from the comfort of your own home. Register today for a free online account to start bidding and start winning!

Tips for Buying Autographed Baseballs

Baseball fans are among the most devoted in sportsdom, following their favorite teams through good times and bad. Autographed baseballs are a popular type of baseball memorabilia, but not all signed balls are created equal. For fans looking to own a piece of baseball history or a connection to their favorite player, it’s helpful to know what factors can make a signed ball more or less desirable. Here are some things to look for if you are considering buying a signed ball:

What’s the quality of the signature?: The signature should be clear, not smudged or spotted.

Where is the signature placed?: In general, collectors prefer that a baseball be signed on the “sweet spot,” the location on the ball where the seams are closest together. This is because a signature in this spot makes for a more appealing visual when the ball is on display.

Is it inscribed?: If the signed ball includes an inscription such as a team slogan, a personal motto, or an acknowledgment of a team or personal accomplishment, in general its value will be higher than a similar ball with just a signature.

Is it personalized?: While a ball inscribed to a particular recipient by name will have great sentimental value for the person who received it, it will bring less on the sports memorabilia market than a ball that is not personalized.

What type of ball is it?: An official ball from the league the player played in will be more valuable than a random baseball. A specialty baseball, such as a World Championship Ball, will be more valuable still. (Note: specialty baseballs are usually signed on the side panel, under the logo, rather than the sweet spot, so that both the logo and signature will be visible when the ball is displayed.)

Does it comes with a certificate of authenticity?: As with any type of collectible, the signed baseball market attracts unscrupulous dealers. They may try to exaggerate the value of goods they have on offer or pass something fake off as being the real thing. Reputable dealers will supply a certificate of authenticity with a signed baseball so you can be confident that it has not been misrepresented.

Signed baseballs follow the general rules that apply to the value of sports memorabilia—value increases with rarity, the stature and popularity of the player who signed it, and whether or not that player is still living. When you’re contemplating purchasing a signed ball, take the time to do a bit of research to figure out the general price you can expect to pay. If you think you might sell it down the road, know that prices for memorabilia can vary depending on current fads, so be prepared to hold onto the ball for a while until you can get the price you want. In the meantime, store the ball in a climate-controlled environment protected from UV rays, which can fade the signature and lower the ball’s value.

Auction King gives sports fans the opportunity to bid on authenticated memorabilia at below-market prices from the comfort of their own homes. We bring you collectible treasures from baseball, football, basketball, soccer, and more. Register today for a free online account and start bidding.

How to Identify a Vintage Golf Ball

While golf doesn’t have as showy a following as other major sports, the legions of devoted golf fans and players testify to the enduring popularity of the sport. Golf as we know it was first developed in southeastern Scotland in the 15th century. It was so popular then that King James II banned it in 1457, complaining that it was distracting his archers from their practice. That ban didn’t last long—by 1500 it had been lifted, and shortly thereafter King James IV took up the sport. Golf spread around the globe with the expansion of the British Empire, and over the centuries the rules of the game and the equipment used evolved into the forms we are familiar with today. Golf balls have undergone dramatic changes since players first used bent sticks to whack a ball toward a designated target in the fewest number of strokes.

The very oldest golf balls look nothing like the golf balls you would purchase today. While there is speculation that very early golfers used either wooden balls or leather balls stuffed with hair, the earliest balls that we know for certain were used for golf were made of leather stuffed with feathers, developed in the 17th century. These were labor-intensive to make and thus expensive—a ball maker could make only two or three of these balls per day. In reasonable condition, these early leather golf balls will go for thousands of dollars.

The first molded ball was introduced in the mid-1800s. These were made from gutta percha, a light rubbery substance made from the sap of the sapodilla tree, found in Malaysia. These were the first golf balls that could be mass produced. Although the first gutta-percha golf balls produced were smooth, players found that the nicks they gained through play helped produce a more stable flight path. Manufacturers began adding raised patterns to these balls to improve performance. The price for one of these on the collectible market will vary depending on the rarity of the ball and its condition, but you can expect to pay a few hundred dollars.

The Haskell ball—a golf ball with a solid core wrapped in rubber threads and covered with a layer of gutta-percha—was invented at the very end of the 19th century. This most closely resembles the golf balls that are used today and is the most common type of golf ball you’re likely to find on the vintage market. However, the pattern of dimples that distinguish modern golf balls was not introduced until the 1930s. Before then, golf balls had raised patterns that varied by manufacturer. Rare and unusual patterns can boost the price of a golf ball from this period.

Another popular category of collectible vintage golf balls is the wrapped golf ball. From about 1910 to 1970, manufacturers sold golf balls individually wrapped in coverings advertising their maker. Balls still in their wrappers can sell for several hundred dollars, particularly if they are very rare or in mint condition.

For golf aficionados looking to connect with the history of the game, collecting vintage golf balls is one way to satisfy that urge. Auction King offers authenticated sports memorabilia and collectibles at below-market prices in a secure, convenient format that allows fans to own a piece of their favorite game. Register today for a free online account and start bidding!

The Benefits of Bidding on 90-Second Auctions

The popularity of online auctions has grown in step with online shopping in general—after all, what could be more convenient than browsing for what you want from the comfort of your own home? In recent years, a new dynamic segment of the online auction market has caught the attention of savvy online shoppers: the 90-second auction. What is it about these fast-paced sites that has earned a devoted following?

Speed: Imagine an auction boiled down to those last exciting seconds when all the action really happens. Every item on a 90-second auction site is just like that. You have to move fast to stay on top. Placing a new high bid extends the auction for a few more seconds, but once that clock ticks down, the item is sold! Unlike traditional timed online auction sites where you have to follow an item for days to have a chance to win, 90-second sites give you instant victory. Didn’t get an item you wanted? Don’t worry—there’ll be a chance on something else instantly.

Convenience: Some of the most popular 90-second-auction sites can be accessed through mobile apps, which means you can participate from wherever you are. You’ll never miss out on your opportunity to bid when you can literally put the auction in your pocket and take it with you.

Discovery: The brisk pace of 90-second auctions means that there is constantly something new coming up for bid. Whether you’re looking for jewelry, collectibles, art, or more, the inventory on a 90-second auction site is always changing, offering you something fresh to consider on a daily basis. It’s fun just to dip in to see what’s on offer, and you never know—you may unexpectedly find that have-to-have item when you least expect it.

Bargains!: You won’t believe the deals you can get at a 90-second auction. With prices starting at just $1 and a lightning-fast bidding window, items up for bid routinely go at just a fraction of their retail price. Unlike some penny auction sites that charge a fee per bid, 90-second auction sites are free to bid on—you only pay if you win. This makes these auction sites the perfect place to hunt for unbelievable bargains and snap them up. Although you may pay shipping costs or other fees (each site varies), you still usually end up with a price well below retail on all kinds of items.

Technology isn’t just making the auction experience more accessible for the modern age, it is also bringing new twists to the traditional ways we bid and win. If you’re the kind of buyer who loves the adrenaline rush of fast-paced bidding and who can’t resist the opportunity to get a steal of a deal, 90-second-auctions are worth checking out.

Collector’s Guide to Buying Art at Auction

Whether you’re new to collecting art, new to buying at auction, or both, art auctions can seem intimidating. This is because we’ve often been shown a picture of art auctions as a format for selling astronomically priced famous works to the super wealthy. Of course, tales of how a recently rediscovered Old Master went for millions of dollars over asking price are exciting, but they obscure the fact that in reality, art auctions can be good opportunities for collectors to get bargains. To make the most of auction opportunities, here’s what you need to know:

Understand the mechanics of the auction you’re entering:

Not every art auction operates the same way. First, artworks may have a minimum bid amount specified—this is the smallest bid the auction house will accept to open bidding. However, this may not be the same thing as the minimum amount needed to win the item. If a reserve price has been set, then bidding has to reach at least this level before a bidder can win the item. This can happen, for example, when a consignor has put an artwork up for auction and wants to make at least a certain amount of money on the sale. Reserve prices may not be made public. Bid increments are the minimum amount by which you need to raise your offer to counter a previous bid. Generally speaking, the more expensive the item, the higher the bid increment.

Know what you’re buying:

While it’s always a good idea to let your personal preference guide you in terms of the general style of artwork you decide to buy, your gut feeling is less helpful in determining a reasonable sale price for an artwork you’re interested in. Do some research to both understand the general type of artwork you’re considering and the individual piece itself. For example, an original oil painting by a famous artist is very different than a limited-edition lithograph by someone up-and-coming and will command a different price.

Ask questions:

It’s perfectly reasonable to want to familiarize yourself with the details of the piece you are considering before you place a bid. The condition of an artwork can positively or negatively influence its value, and the time to find out about such factors is before you’ve bought it. For previously owned original artworks, the provenance (history of ownership) can help to establish the authenticity of the work, so you’ll want to know about that too.

Buy from reputable sources:

The art market, like any market for collectibles, unfortunately attracts unscrupulous dealers who pass off counterfeit pieces as genuine artwork. This is why it is important to find reputable dealers to work with. Trusted sources will not hesitate to provide proof of a piece’s authenticity and will welcome your inquiries about further details.

Auction King offers a constantly updated selection of lithographs, giclees, etchings, prints, and originals for auction without hidden reserve prices and with starting bids as low as $1. We triple check the authenticity of every piece we offer so you can bid on what you love with confidence. Register today for a free online account and start bidding.

How to Win at Online Auctions

Online auctions give people the opportunity to bid on items they might not have had access to before, due to the limits of geography or timing. They have become a popular way for aficionados to find all kinds of prized items to enlarge their collections, from artwork and fine jewelry to sports memorabilia and designer watches. Successful bidders know that understanding the right way to go about bidding can improve your chances of walking away with the winning bid. Here’s some advice for increasing your chances of success:

First, do your research. Jumping into an auction blindly may result in you underbidding and losing out or overbidding and regretting it later. Check out the items you’re interested in, compare them to similar items elsewhere to get a sense of their market value, and ask any questions you have before you place a bid. Know if the item you’re interested in is rare or unique, which could make it worth bidding more for.

Then set your budget. Decide how much you are willing to spend overall or on any particular item. This will give you a framework for your bidding so you can proceed without second-guessing yourself. Auctions sometimes come down to the timing of your bid, so hesitation can spell the difference between losing and winning.

Understand that certain tactics work best in different situations. One of the most well-known bidding techniques is called “sniping.” This is the strategy of waiting until the last possible second to place your bid to try to win an auction. In a timed online auction with a hard end time, this can effectively shut out other interested bidders. In a live auction, whether in person or online, where bidding goes as long anyone is still placing bids, sniping can still have benefits, however. Active bidding can drive up the price of a hotly contested item, so sitting out until the auction is almost finished may cool off the bidding and ultimately result in a lower end price.

Another popular bidding technique is known as “squatting.” This is where you bid early on your chosen item and counter every subsequent bid in order to stake your claim. Obvious interest can have the effect of driving off casual bidders who are more interested in getting a bargain than in obtaining the particular item in question. To make this technique more effective, you should bid more than the minimum each time, to show other bidders that you are serious about winning. Be careful, however—in the case of one-of-a-kind items, squatting can be less effective because there is no alternative for other bidders to seek out.

Ultimately, your personality and goals will define your successful bidding style. At AuctionKing.com, our live online auction gives our customers thrilling opportunities to win high-end collectibles, fine jewelry, designer handbags, and more at below-market prices every day. We triple-check the authenticity of every item on our site so you can bid with confidence. Register for a free online account today to get started.