Coin collecting is a popular hobby, but for those looking to turn their interest in coins into a serious pursuit, learning the ins and outs of what determines a coin’s value may seem daunting. Continue reading “What Makes a Present-Day Coin Valuable?”
Whether they’re heirlooms or treasures you’ve found at auction, antique metal pieces have a special beauty that can lend distinction to your décor. Continue reading “How to Preserve Antique Silver and Bronze Pieces”
Any field that has a devoted fan following can inspire a market for memorabilia. Continue reading “Most Expensive Movie Memorabilia”
As is the case with many kinds of collectibles, the condition of a rare or unusual coin can have a significant influence on its value. Ideally, a coin should be in pristine condition, without significant wear or abrasion, in order to command the highest price. Silver coins present an additional challenge to the conscientious collector, however, because the precious metal tends to tarnish over time, and a heavily tarnished coin may be less attractive to potential buyers than an unblemished one.
Tarnish is caused by the reaction between silver and hydrogen sulfide, a gas that is present in minute quantities in the air. Over time, a dull grey or black coating will form over the surface of a silver object as the top layers of the metal react chemically with the gas. In areas with high humidity or high levels of air pollution, silver will tarnish faster. Polishing silver that has become tarnished can cause abrasion and even remove small amounts of the precious metal, so the key to long-term preservation of silver in a superior state is preventing tarnish from forming in the first place. This is especially important to note for silver coins that are collected for their numismatic value—the value derived from their history or rarity—rather than just the price of the precious metal they are made of, because damage caused by cleaning can significantly reduce their worth.
The first step is to be careful in how you handle silver coins. The oils from your skin, skincare products like lotions, and other common chemicals can predispose silver to tarnish, so it’s best to handle them as little as possible. Wash your hands before touching them and pick them up by the edges. Some collectors will even use white cotton gloves to handle their coins to prevent any possible contamination. Handle the coins over a soft surface, such as clean towel, so that they will not be nicked or scratched should you accidentally drop them.
Next, make sure that the storage materials you choose for your coins are specially designed to eliminate chemicals that could discolor or damage them, such as acid in paper or PVC in plastics. Some popular types of coin storage include:
- 2x2s: Flat cardboard containers lined with clear mylar designed to hold one coin each.
- Coin flips: Inexpensive clear plastic square sleeves for individual storage.
- Air-tites: Round acrylic cases that snap closed around a single coin, allowing viewing on both sides.
- Slabs: Sonically sealed clear plastic containers, usually put on high-value coins by professional grading services.
Proper storage materials can help reduce the chances your silver coins will be exposed to tarnish-causing agents.
Finally, temperature fluctuations and humidity will promote tarnishing. Keep your coins in a cool, temperature-controlled location, and keep the air around them dry by either putting moisture-absorbing silica packets nearby or running a dehumidifier. Even sealed coin storage containers are not 100 percent air-tight, so keeping your collection in the right environment is critical for good long-term results.
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In these days of virtual payment methods, pocket change may seem like more of a nuisance than a potential source of wealth. However, that collection of pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters may be hiding unknown treasures. The type of valuable coin you’re likely to find among modern examples are error coins, which have subtle differences from perfectly minted coins that make them attractive to collectors. You’ll have to have a sharp eye and a magnifying glass to spot the differences, but here are some that you might find lurking in your spare change:
- 1969-S Lincoln Penny with Doubled-Die Obverse – In a doubled-die coin, the die itself is made incorrectly, producing an image where elements are doubled. In this extremely rare example, every element on the obverse side except for the mint mark is doubled. Possible value: $35,000
- 1970-S Small Date Lincoln Penny with Doubled-Die Obverse – The doubling on the obverse of this coin is most clearly seen in the motto “In God We Trust” and in the letters “LIB” of “Liberty.” Possible value: $3,000
- 1972 Lincoln Penny with Doubled-Die Obverse – This example of a doubled die coin shows strong doubling on all elements on the obverse side of the coin. Authentic examples also have a tiny gouge near the edge of the coin above the letter “D” in “United.” Possible value: $500
- 1984 Double Ear Lincoln Penny – The doubled die error on this coin makes it appear that there is an extra earlobe below Lincoln’s ear on the obverse image. Possible value: $230
- 1995 Lincoln Penny with Doubled-Die Obverse – Many of these are still found in circulation today. Doubling is clearly seen in “Liberty” and “In God We Trust.” Possible value: $20 to $40
- 1999 Wide “AM” Reverse Lincoln Penny – On the reverse of a typical penny, the letters “A” and “M” in the word “America” are nearly touching. In this rare example, that gap is wider than usual because the mint mistakenly used a proof die to strike normal circulation coins. There are also examples of this coin dated 1998 and 2000, but ones from 1999 are the rarest. Possible value: $5 to $600
- 1982 No Mint Park Roosevelt Dime – U.S. coins are printed with a small single letter that indicates the mint where they were made (“S” for San Francisco, “P” for Philadelphia, and “D” for Denver). In 1982, the Philadelphia Mint forgot to add their mark to thousands of dimes. Possible value: $30 to $50
- 2004-D Wisconsin State Quarter with an Extra Leaf – Thousands of this state’s quarters somehow ended up with an extra leaf on the left side of the ear of corn featured in the design. Possible value: $200 to $300
- 2005 “In God We Rust” Kansas State Quarter – A grease build-up in the coin die led to an interesting typo on some of this state’s quarters. Not the most valuable error coin out there, but a definite conversation piece. Possible value: $100
- Presidential Dollar with Edge Lettering Errors – The U.S. began issuing dollar coins with images of our nation’s presidents in 2007. Each coin should have an inscription around the circumference of the coin, which is applied after the coin is struck. Examples with either missing or doubled inscriptions can be valuable. Possible value: $50 to $3,000 (depending on president and type of error)
Auction King seeks out unusual, interesting, and valuable collectibles to add to our inventory every day. We triple-check the authenticity of every item on our site so our customers can bid with confidence. Register today for a free online account to start bidding!
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.
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.
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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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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