This is the third article in a series that will highlight items that are selling well versus items that are selling poorly, based on personal observation.
Vintage Wrist / Pocket Watches – First, let me say that the market for watches depends largely on how and where you sell your watch. I have sold many wrist and pocket watches over the years, almost all of which have been shipped out of the Raleigh-Durham area (and a number of which have also ended-up overseas). Also, watches are one of the few types of jewelry that men will collect, so men’s watches are typically in higher demand than women’s.
So what makes a watch collectible? Well, several factors. First, who is the maker? A Rolex watch is obviously more exclusive (and expensive) then a Timex watch. Second, what is the watch case made from and how ornate is it? Many older watches are made of gold or silver and some may have ornate designs from a particularly skilled jeweler or watchsmith. If you’re not sure if your case is solid gold or merely plated, look for markings on the underside of your wristwatch, or inside of the case for a pocket watch.
Third, does the watch run? If so, has it been serviced recently? Running watches that keep correct time are more desirable than watches that need repairs or service. And finally, does the watch have any significant provenance? Watches owned or gifted by famous individuals can fetch far greater prices than their more ordinary counterparts. For example, in 2014, the pocket watch that Babe Ruth received in 1923 was sold at auction. Due to the historical significance of both the owner and the fact that the watch was awarded after the New York Yankee’s won the first World Series, a 14K gold watch that would normally be worth a mere few hundred dollars sold for over $700,000!
1980s and 90s Sports Cards – Within the first year of business, I received a call to sell a large sports card collection, consisting of a mix of baseball, basketball, and football cards. Not knowing any better, I rented a trailer and picked it up. After spending nearly a week sorting well over 100,000 cards, I felt overwhelmed and had to return the collection, much to the dismay of the owner. While it was disappointing to spend so much time on a project without making any sales, I did learn a lot about card collecting in the process.
The problem with collecting cards from this era is that there is simply more supply than demand. Prior to the 1980s, Topps Chewing Gum had a near monopoly on trading cards for baseball, basketball, and football. However, in 1980, the Fleer Corporation won a court decision against Topps, allowing them to apply for a group license from the Major League Baseball Player’s Association, so that they could market their own trading cards. This ruling helped to usher in an explosion in the card-collecting era and the market was flooded as several companies began producing trading cards. By the early 1990s, the market crashed under the glut of cards, most of which are now worth pennies, even if in pristine condition.
Chris DiGiovanna is the President of Trader Chris Consignments, which specializes in selling valuable collectibles, jewelry, watches, and estate silver on eBay. Chris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.