Antiquing and Collecting on the Internet
This book covers utilizing search engines effectively and understanding buyer/seller psychology and has comprehensive chapters on how to create a successful website, and how to buy and sell on eBay and other online auction sites. This user-friendly guide is a must-read for all antiques professionals and collectors, and others who are interested in buying and selling on the Internet.
Compiled by Bryan McMullin
What follows is a random assortment of art and antiques related websites that we have visited and enjoyed in the last few weeks. Your discoveries and suggestions are always welcome.
Donald A. Bull is either a man obsessed or completely off his rocker, probably a bit of both. As the creator of the The Virtual Corkscrew Museum he has built one of the most impressive and sophisticated private collector/dealer sites we have come across. Begun in 1994, the "museum" now consists of over 30 "rooms", each used to exhibit a grouping of some of the 2522 pictures of, and relating to, corkscrews.
And it is not only corkscrews themselves, although they are here in abundance and in all of their amazing variety. The China Cabinet featured a collection of dishes that feature corkscrew images as part of their decoration. Other rooms exhibit an extensive collection of artwork, including everything from posters to oil paintings, which somehow relate to corkscrews, or wine at the very least. One of the most bizarre "galleries" is the movie theatre, with its video clips demonstrating a variety of the more interesting mechanical cork extractors.
Our favorite section of the site was Whatís New, a compilation of apparently miscellaneous pages including one about a giant corkscrew and another with a detailed story about a corkscrew that sold for $13,550 on eBay last April. There is a lot of information here, very well presented, and even if you never gave corkscrews a second thought, it is easy to spend an hour or more poking around.
This site is a perfect example of how the Internet and digital technology can provide access to a wealth of materials that otherwise would be shut away, virtually inaccessible, in traditional archives. This site is the homepage of a tiny portion of the enormous material collections of The Library of Congress known collectively as American Memory, a group of 70 historical ephemera collections.
Baseball Cards 1887-1914 is the result of digitizing an extraordinary collection of 2100 early baseball cards, part of the 14,000 plus cigarette card collection assembled by Benjamin K Edwards and later donated to the library by poet Carl Sandberg. Meticulously digitized and cross-referenced, most of the cards are illustrated in thumbnail format with both sides included. Searching the collection is virtually fool proof, and for more famous players you are generally offered a selection of cards to view.
By their very nature, baseball cards (and other small ephemera) are not particularly suitable for traditional forms of exhibition. Susceptible to light exposure and virtually impossible to display, especially when both sides are of interest, this digitized "gallery" provides access, at your convenience, to items that would otherwise never see the light of day (without then ever seeing the light of day).
This New Zealand based site calls itself the Glass Museum Online, but it is not an e-museum in the usual sense. Rather than being an exhibition site in the manner of most on-line "museums", this site works most effectively as an online encyclopedia of glass and a reference site to a healthy variety of glass related articles.
The reference material available here includes information on a variety of manufacturing methods and makers and includes illustrations of all topics covered, and there are limited, but apparently expanding auction results that could end up being very useful. There is an extensive listing of related links, and the more commercial elements
The Antique Bottle Collectors Haven is certainly no-frills in its design, but is one of the most functional reference sites on the web. The bare bones opening page has a brief bottle digging animation as itís sole "design" element, but the focus in the design of this site was obviously speed and access to information rather than visual display. It is a refreshing change from so many "over-designed" sites that include lots of incidental elements that usually only slow things down. And this site is FAST.
Divided into two basic sections, the first covers a variety of bottle related topics such as digging for bottles, the variety of colors found in antique bottles (well illustrated), cleaning antique bottles and even packing them for shipping. The second section provides information and illustrations of 49 different categories of bottles ranging from apothecary bottles through inkbottles, to whiskey bottles. Each category page also provides links to related, more specific sites on the web. Overall, a most useful site for collectors and dealers alike.
This is a more commercial site than we usually include in this column, including as it does an extensive catalog of pens for sale. What makes this site different though, are a couple of things. First of all, unlike most online catalogs, this one includes prices, making it an excellent reference for establishing at least one manís (David Nishimuraís) idea of the market value of hundreds of different pens. The prices indicated seem high to this writer, but that is probably why every pen I have ever sold has been snapped up in a matter of days.
Second, for a commercial site, it includes an excellent proportion of purely reference material ranging from an excellent section of "pen profiles" which are well illustrated and include fairly detailed model and maker information, to a section on the care, feeding and restoration of your vintage pens. The ubiquitous links to other related sites are also useful, but it is the extensive, priced catalog that most got our attention.