The Most Valuable Collectibles of All Time

Many categories of collectibles inspire passion in their loyal fans: porcelain, coins, movie memorabilia, sports memorabilia, comic books, and more. It seems that no matter what your area of interest, somebody will be gathering up rare or interesting examples of that subject. Some of these unusual items set jaw-dropping records when they go up for sale. While the prices that ultra-rare collectibles command are beyond the reach of most of us, it’s fascinating to look at some record-breakers.

Honus Wagner Baseball Card – $3.12 Million – 2016

As one of the rarest baseball cards in existence, this Honus Wagner card broke the record for the most valuable baseball card set in 2007 ($2.8 million)…by another Honus Wagner card. Although baseball cards are one of the most well-known category of sports memorabilia, it’s not unusual for rare items in a variety of sports to go for staggering prices at auction.

1931 Dracula Movie Poster – $525,800 – 2017

This movie poster broke the world record for most expensive ever sold when it was put on the block by Heritage Auctions in 2017. It is one of only two surviving examples of the poster from the movie starring Bela Lugosi.

Action Comics #1 – $3.2 Million – 2014

This 1938 comic book, created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, featured the first comic book appearance by Superman. It is widely credited for starting the Golden Age of superhero comic books, and originally sold for only a dime.

Ru Guanyo Brush Washer Bowl – $37.7 Million – 2017

This small, shallow 900-year-old dish from the Northern Song Dynasty set a record for Chinese porcelain when it was auctioned by Sotheby’s in Hong Kong. The blue-green glaze and “ice-crackle” pattern featured in this dish are extremely rare, having been produced for only two decades.

Wallis Simpson’s Panther Bracelet – $12.4 Million – 2010

The anonymous bidder who claimed this onyx and diamond bracelet once owned by Wallis Simpson claimed a priceless piece of history from one of the most shocking events to impact the British monarchy in the 20th century. The American divorcee’s affair with King Edward VIII led to his abdication from the throne in 1936.

Sickle-Leaf Persian Rug – $33.76 Million – 2013

This rug, which was once part of the Williams Andrew Clark estate, blew past pre-auction estimates when it went up for auction. It holds the honor of being the most expensive rug ever sold at auction, which it owed in part to its unusual combination of rarity and superior condition.

While some collectors can afford to spend whatever the market demands, most of us prefer to shop where our budget will go further. Auction King offers a wide selection of authenticated collectibles at below-market prices on our convenient, secure online auction site. With three generations of experience in the business, we offer the most authentic auction experience available online. Our continually updated selection features unique, antique, and luxurious items. Register for a free online account today and get started.

Using a Black Light to Examine Antiques

When you’re in the market for antique or vintage items, you know that there are all kinds of ways unscrupulous dealers can misrepresent the items they have for sale. Both the age and condition of antique items influence their value heavily, but neither is always easy to fully determine through a visual inspection alone. Examining an item under black light is a simple step that can reveal useful information about an item you’re considering purchasing.

Black lights put out ultraviolet radiation. While this wavelength of the electromagnetic spectrum is not visible to the human eye, when it reflects off of certain materials it produces light that we can see. Thus, it can make previously hidden repairs or touch-ups more visible. Also, some specific examples of antique items are known to glow in certain colors in ultraviolet light, while modern reproductions of those pieces do not. Here’s what a black light examination can tell you about these types of pieces:

Porcelain: Expert repairs on a piece of fine porcelain may not be visible, but the modern glue used will fluoresce under a black light, making the extent and location of the fix apparent. Modern paints used to touch up faded designs or details will fluoresce as well. Black light can also help distinguish between hard paste and soft paste porcelain pieces, because the former will glow deep blue or purple, while the latter will glow white.

Glassware: Certain types of glassware will glow under a black light, which can help establish the authenticity of a piece. For example, both green Depression glass and Vaseline glass contain uranium oxide, which will cause them to fluoresce. It’s best to do your homework in advance to determine whether the type of piece you’re considering is expected to have an established fluorescent effect under black light, as the lack of one in that case can quickly reveal a reproduction being marketed as the real thing.

Cast iron: In the 1900s, many interesting pieces were made of painted cast iron, including mechanical toys, banks, and door stops. These can be quite valuable when found in good condition with their original paint. However, there are many reproductions of these types of pieces on the market as well, and it isn’t always easy to tell the difference. Modern paint and glue will show up under a black light, revealing touch-ups, repairs, and outright fakes.

Ephemera on paper: Paper products—think baseball cards, posters, postcards, photos, etc.—from before the 1930s rarely glow under black light. In the 1940s, however, paper manufacturers started widely using chemicals called “optical brighteners” to make their paper look whiter, which means that modern paper generally glows under UV light. This can help distinguish an original from a reproduction.

Of course, using a black light will not give you all the information you need to know about an antique. Such examinations should be used in conjunction with other information and expert advice before you make a decision to buy. You should also take care to work only with reliable dealers who stand behind the authenticity of the antiques and collectibles they put up for sale.

Auction King offers a wide variety of collectibles and vintage items in different categories for the particular collector. We triple-check the authenticity of every item on our site so that our clients can bid with confidence. Register today for a free online account to find your next treasure.

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.