Writing a Proper Antique or Vintage Item Auction Description
When writing your ebay auction for an antique or vintage item there are several very important points about an object which should be described to the potential buyer.
If you do not include these points in your auction description, potential buyers might decide to pass up bidding on your item simply because their basic questions about your item are unanswered. Or, at the very least, you risk an unhappy buyer, or a difficult sale, or no sale at all --- if you do not provide the minimum pertainent information regarding your item.
This is what you should aways strive to provide in an auction listing description:
- MATERIAL: it is made from [wood (wood species if known), iron, tin, glass, etc].
- MAKER: If known. Or who you attribute it to, and perhaps why. Or, just give an educated guess - you may be wrong, but be sure to indicate it is your guess. Everything human made was made by someone - it should be part of your research to try your best to find out who. Can't figure it out? It happens all the time: Say so in your description. Most likely your potential buyers know more than you do anyway - if you've described your item thoroughly, they WILL more than likely find it on ebay!
- CONSTRUCTION: For example: is it glued, dovetailed, square or round nails, turned, carved, wrought, cast? etc.
- ORIGIN: [if known, or where you found it if you don't know the origin can be very helpful to a buyer - especially if you are not telling the buyer exactly where you live in your item 'location'. Antiques do travel, but some are very "regional", like Native American pieces or pottery. Clues as to origin are sometimes VERY important.]
- AGE: [if known, or a best guess, or a photo of wear or lack thereof]
- MARKINGS: manufacturer's and maker's marks, or other markings, such as symbols or signatures which can be of interest to the collector. Remember, no matter how insignificant you think a mark or signature may be, there may be someone out there searching descriptions for that very marking.
- SIZE: Important! Especially for any item where size is not usually 'a given'. For example, most people know what size an eggcup, a bottle opener, or a cigarette case usually is, but for most other antiques or collectibles, size is relevent. Also, it is VERY helpful to a potential buyer for you to provide at least one photo with an object to compare your item "for scale". [For example: I use a life-sized, wooden apple because it is handy, pleasant to look at, and no one eats it when it sits around here ;-) ].
- CONDITION: A concise, but careful description of the condition of the item [not just a rating like Near Mint, Excellent, Very Good, etc. although it is fine to include this with your description]. You don't have to list every nick and scratch on most things as photos should suffice, but you should mention if it has light, moderate or heavy wear for age. Most buyers will know more about what they collect than you do, and will be able to discern condition with good photos -- but not always. If you want to avoid an unpleasant transaction / unhappy buyers / minimal bids, it is VERY important to carefully list any damage: excessive wear, manufacturer's defects, repairs, or other defects in condition, including crazing, flaking paint, "funny" smells, excessive dust and dirt -- even if it looks obvious to you in the photos it may not be obvious to a potential buyer and should be pointed out.
NOTE on Condition: There may be times you do not know what constitutes light, moderate or heavy wear on an object -- what then? I suggest taking a photos of your object and going to one of the many great ebay discussion or chat boards for help.
Sellers: Be willing to answer buyer's questions gracefully - that means make an effort to use the proper spelling and punctuation, and be sure to thank them for their questions. If you have provided the above information you will most likely receive fewer buyer questions ... but, hopefully, more bids.
Buyers: I hope this has made ebay a little bit better place for you to find what you are looking for! Good luck!
And many thanks for reading my guide --