Learn to buy and sell antiques and collectibles

Finding eBay Keywords For Old Items

This is the 3rd in a series of articles about eBay Keywords. Previous articles are eBay Keyword Rules, and Selecting eBay Auction Categories And Keywords.

Finding eBay Keywords

I decided to do this as an exercise so you can figure out what these are on your own. Don't read too far ahead.

Before we get started, one IMPORTANT note: As I was preparing this article I noticed that many of the prices listed on completed search pages are LOWER than the price shown in the auction. Because of this error, you need to always look at the auctions.

You should be looking at the auctions anyway to identify keywords, categories, and insure you are looking at the same items.

First lets consider items that are easy to identify.

For example consider this toy train:

Lionel 50 gang car

It clearly says Lionel 50 on the side so we'll use those as keywords.

If we search completed auctions on eBay we get a whole list of items including many similar items.

Lionel 50 on eBay

Prices for items that look just like this range from $10 to 40.00. We can also see most auction titles call this a gang car, and many people refer to this as a postwar train. So if we were going to sell this item we'd use a title like "Lionel 50 Gang Car from 1950s Postwar". (To the title we'd also add condition statements like runs, works and Excellent as appropriate to let buyers know more.)

That wasn't hard.

Now for one a little harder. A Stangl Bird:

This is a neat little pottery bird. The bottom is marked Stangl Pottery Birds with some initials and a small "3276D"

I don't know much about birds so I cannot guess the type of bird. So we'll just search eBay for Stangl bird.

That brings up 170 completed auctions. Scrolling through the list, I found one auction calling this a double bluebird. That one sold for $29 plus $10 shipping.

It turns out the number on the bottom is a mold number.

Using the keywords we've found our title would be "Stangl Pottery Double Bluebird 3276D"

Let's try something a little harder. How about a Plastic Horse?

This is a plastic horse. It has no markings on it. The saddle is removable and is made of vinyl. It's just under 10 inches tall to the top of the ears.

If you'd purchased this, you'd have some background on it which might help you with your research. I got it with a bunch of toys made in the late 1950s.

Let's try a simple eBay search for 10 plastic horse. We leave out the word inch because some people might abbreviate it as 10 in. or 10".

That search does bring up a result, but only one. The seller identifies the maker as Hartland.

Let's try searching for the keyword phrase "1950s plastic horse."

The completed auctions search doesn't bring one up, but active auctions brings up something similar. This time it's attributed to Breyer.

We have enough keywords to sell it on eBay. You'd just list it as a "Hartland Breyer 1950s plastic horse w/ saddle." That's the headline I used to sell this horse's sister. She sold for about $30.

Note: we don't use the word "or" between Hartland and Breyer in the title because this violates eBay's keyword rules. It's not an infraction that is frequently enforced, but can cause problems. In the description we'd say we think it's from either maker so it fits under the comparison or "use with" exemptions.

As an exercise can you figure out who the maker really is? It is one of the two companies mentioned, and one detail will point out the maker. See PS for answer.

Here's one more that is quite a bit harder. A Cast Iron Horse:

This is a 10 inch cast iron horse. It has no markings, looks old, and has slotted screws holding the two sides together. Dating Hint: Phillips head screws were invented in the early 1930s, and weren't widely used on cast iron toys until the late 1960s.

First lets search eBay for the keywords: 10 cast iron horse.

No results that look like this horse.

Take the 10 out and search for cast iron horse we get thousands of results. EBay suggests we limit our search to the Toys & Hobbies - Vintage, Antique Toys - Cast Iron category.

That search brings up almost 400 results.

Quickly looking at the results many of the auctions are for banks, and/or include wagons. We can remove those keywords from our search by using this string: horse -bank -wagon

Now we have a manageable number of results.

Note: when looking at these horses, the legs are different on the cheaper ones. This horse has thin legs. The position of the legs, the tail, and the head should be the easiest way to find a similar horse.

In the search above, I found two of these horses. Both were in a set with a foal on a board. Both were also attributed to Hubley.

A search on eBay for Hubley horse brings up a similar horse that sold for $156.

Looking at the searches we'd also see many people refer to these cast iron figures as doorstops. That's a word we would use in our title. Doorstop.

This is a "Hubley Cast Iron 10" Doorstop w/ Original Paint"

Looking on Google for Hubley horse Doorstop reveals a whole site about doorstops. This horse is shown as a Hubley 345. That page gives estimated values of $250 - $375.

The best way to learn how to do this quickly is to start researching items. Recently I gave Fran a few little blue roosters with the advice that people collected roosters and they might be worth something. She quickly found roosters like them that had been sold at Sotheby's for $200 each.

We have about 100 apple boxes full of old china from an estate. Just finding a few expensive items charged her up enough to look most everything up. The more interesting stuff she finds - she was excited this afternoon about a $600 rabbit!- the more she enjoys looking things up.

Part 4 explains how to use Keywords in eBay Titles.


PS there is an article on the website explaining why some things are worth more than other. You can read it at:
Researching antiques values.

PPS The plastic horse is a Breyer because the mane is on the left side of the neck. Hartland horse have their manes on the right.

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