Four Years: My Etsy Experience

I opened my Etsy shop on November 10, 2010 and it is now time for my annual state of the state message.  Oh, as usual, Etsy has made changes to their website over this past year and, as usual, many members are, or were, up in arms about it.  I’ve found it best to just go about my business and ignore the uproar.  I still enjoy selling on Etsy and for me, at least, find it to be the best venue at the current time.

I’ve sold 671 items over the past four years.  I sell antique and vintage items and many of them are extremely rare.  When I say extremely rare, that does not equate with expensive.  It means just that… rare.  Just try to find another one of this thing or that grouping or set.  Go on…. I dare you.  Good luck.  I know that I might be the only person on the planet that sees the value and uniqueness of some of the things that I list.  But I hope against hope that someone else is out there with a like mind.  And that one someone will find my listing and make a purchase.  Maybe not good business sense but so what.

Talking about rare but not expensive, I recently made two sales which fall into that category.  One was a grouping of clothespins and the other was a pile of rocks. 

Six Unusual Clothespins

Six Unusual Clothespins

If you observe the clothespins shown above, you’ll see that the wire construction of each is different.  I was “in to” clothespins for a while and found many different patents from the early 20th Century.  I knew how unusual this grouping was and had it listed for quite a while.  And then one day someone from France contacts me and asks if I would ship them to France.  I replied that international shipping costs were outrageously high and to ship these six clothespins the charge would be $13.  That over and above the listing price of $30.  They wanted them and would pay the $13 shipping charge.  So off they went and now my six clothespins are enjoying new surroundings in France.  I’d love to know why this person had to have these particular clothespins and was willing to pay a total of $39 for them.  Maybe there’s a clothespin museum over there?

And then there’s the rocks.  Thirteen rocks to be exact.  Talk about unique…you’ll never find the same rocks anywhere; I can state that with certainty.  These rocks were gathered out by my barn.  There was something about the size and shape that seemed to indicate that they could work well together.  I spent the better part of a day stacking these rocks in a variety of configurations and I was only able to use 11 of the rocks in any one grouping.  And when you are intent on stacking stones, you are focused.  Your mind is not wandering here or there.  You are concentrating.  I thought these stones would be helpful as a meditation technique.  In meditating you are attempting to not let your mind wander.  If you let your mind wander while stacking these stones they fall down.  Someone in California saw their value and bought them.

Thirteen Rocks

Thirteen Rocks

And while I’m talking about rocks, I thought the rock below was fascinating and knew there was someone out there who would love to have it.  And I was right.  Although just a rock, this stone was fragile.  Part of it had already broken and crumbled.  I wrapped it so carefully and bubbled wrapped the heck out of it.  I put it in a box with “Fragile” stamped all over it.  The woman who bought it left me feedback on Etsy which said “The item arrived promptly and carefully wrapped…am happy to have found the item, as it has a lot of significance to where I am at in my life right now.”  I thanked her for her review and explained that I was concerned that it not be broken in transit and that’s why I went a little overboard with the packaging.  She replied “That reminds me of a quote I found… ‘Know that your heart will always have a special crack in it that doesn’t need fixing, and eventually accept that sometimes, letting go is love too’. Glad I stumbled upon your shop and have something to signify this thought.”  This rock found its perfect home.

A Piece of My Heart is Missing Rock

A Piece of My Heart is Missing Rock

And near the barn is where the hawthorn tree stands.  I’ve sold some hawthorn branches that have broken off.  Hawthorn wood and thorns have mystical applications and are also used in crafts.  A woman contacted me to ask if I had a particular size piece of hawthorn as she urgently needed it for a wand.  I didn’t have one listed on Etsy that met her needs and I went outside to take a look at the tree to see if I could find a branch that might work.  There happened to be a branch that had grown out toward the street and needed to be cut back.  I took a photo of it, emailed it to her, she said it looked perfect and it was shipped to her the same day.  I like these kind of transactions.  She was happy and so was I.

Huyler's Candy Tongs

Huyler’s Candy Tongs

I searched and searched and searched and couldn’t find another Huyler’s Candy tongs as shown in the photo above.  I wrote a post on Huyler Chocolates as I was so impressed with the man who founded this extremely successful company.  And I listed the tongs on Etsy.  As luck would have it, a member of the Huyler family read the post, saw the listing and bought the tongs (he never saw tongs like it either!)  Earlier this year the tongs were featured in an exhibit on Huyler Chocolates at the Mingei International Museum in San Diego, California.

Jo Mora Map

Jo Mora Map

The Jo Mora Map of Monterey Peninsula shown above also seemed to be the only one in existence, at least as far as I could determine.  Paper concerns me.  It deteriorates.  It’s not like a clothespin or a piece of silver which can be stored away in a box forever.  Over time paper becomes more and more fragile.  I don’t like to touch it, it don’t like to expose it to light.  I just want to find a good home for it.  This 1927 map was purchased by the founder of one of the world’s largest private map collections.  It is now being appreciated and cared for properly.

Cross Petite Pencil

Cross Petite Pencil

The Cross pencil shown above was purchased by a member of Paul McCartney’s band!!!

Hirschfeld "Assyrian Head" Design

Hirschfeld “Assyrian Head” Design

A relative of Henry Hirschfeld found my blog posts “The Many Faces of Assyrian Head” and “Collecting by Design:  Henry Hirschfeld”.  He bought the Hirschfeld “Assyrian Head” nut pick shown above.

O'Neill & Gardner Spoon

O’Neill & Gardner Spoon

O’Neill & Gardner was a jewelry store in Lincoln, Nebraska in the late 1800s.  The grandaughter of one of the original owners found this spoon at my shop and was delighted to receive it.

American Airlines Flagship Fork

American Airlines Flagship Fork

International Silver manufactured flatware for American Airlines for use on their “Flagship” fleet.  The daughter of one of the designers of this “Flagship” aircraft purchased the fork shown above.  And, yes, that is a giant UFO hovering above the aircraft…I like to have fun with my photos at times.

Edwin Brittin's "Squirrel" Pattern Nut Picks

Edwin Brittin’s “Squirrel” Pattern Nut Picks

The “Squirrel” pattern nut on the nut picks shown above was designed by Edwin Brittin and patented in 1875.  Edwin Brittin founded Derby Silver Co. and Rogers & Brittin.  I had written a blog post “Edwin Brittin’s Squirrel” which was found by a member of the Brittin family who purchased Rogers & Brittin forks and a “Squirrel” nut pick from me.

It’s the family connection that I enjoy most.  It pleases me to reconnect a piece of flatware made, designed or somehow associated to someone who is now searching for ancestral information. 

And, last but not least, two highlights of this past year has been antique julep strainers and nut picks.  I’ve written posts on julep strainers (“The Victorian Bar” being one and “Blame It on Boardman” another).  I’ve mentioned therein that antique nut picks work well as olive picks.  It has caught on.  People are buying julep strainers and nut picks at the same time now!  Nut picks that would otherwise be sitting in a drawer somewhere are finally being put to use and appreciated for the tiny little works of art that they are…just look at the “Squirrel” picks above.  They are only 4 and 3/4 inches long!

William Bros.  Julep Strainers

William Bros. Julep Strainers

And, although I hate to blow my own horn, I think I’m responsible for educating many on antique julep strainers.  You would find them listed as tea strainers, sugar sifters, slotted spoons and more.  People are now realizing that what they have is an antique julep strainer!  I’ve sold almost 30 of them in the past 10 months and have done business with a good number of professional bartenders and collectors.  I’m glad these bar tools are being appreciated for what they are!

So, that’s the state of the state.  And it’s a pretty good state.

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8 Responses to Four Years: My Etsy Experience

  1. Really enjoyed reading this.. interesting stories!

  2. Beth M says:

    As a newer follower of your posts, I believe this was my first chance to read your State of the State. That was sooo much fun! I especially loved the clothes pins. I recently came across a large bag of old completely wooden clothes pins as we went through my aunt’s house. I remember my mom used to give them to babies who were teething, and I did too, 60 years ago. I love your research process and your unique items.

    I have tried to emulate your process to find a manufacture date for a very narrow 14K gold ArtCarved ring that I also found among my aunt’s things. (I tried to send this as an email reply with photos, and it would not go. Frustrating! Let me know if there is another way to get them to you.) I tried searching the google books as you suggested earlier but could not really see the ads well enough to be sure I was seeing anything similar. I contacted the company hoping for a link to an old index or catalog but they have been bought out several times and they were less than helpful really, no suggestions. I have taken it to a local jeweler and to someone who was buying up old coins and jewelry and both of them said 1940s or 50s. BUT even tho my aunt and uncle were married with all the other returning servicemen in 1946, my aunt has her diamond wedding set on in their wedding photo. She did have very bad arthritis in later years and my uncle tried to remember if she got this ring later so it would go over her swollen knuckles, but then it would date from the 1990s or 2000s and I can find nothing recent like it. You can see my quandary.

    Enjoy looking, and thanks for listening to my tale. I think I will just have to let this one go and be happy I can wear it. It fits perfectly next to a wide gold filigree band that I wear on the middle finger of my right hand and I think of my aunt whenever I look down. 🙂

  3. KerryCan says:

    Susan, This post is fascinating! I’ve loved your research on so many of these things and it’s really neat to hear what happened, and that they went “home,” in so many cases. I also get the biggest kick out of your willingness to mix the rocks and sticks with the precious silver. I need to go looking in my old silver-plate to see if I can locate any olive picks!

  4. Jim says:

    Susan,

    Very interesting information about Victorian barware. We have a piece that looks something like the julep strainer but has a very curved handle, more like a ladle, and the bowl is only about 2 inches wide. It seems the handle is too curved for use as a drink strainer. We’ve been thinking it’s a sugar sifter, but now you have us doubting that. Any thoughts?

    Jim

    • queenofsienna says:

      Jim, thanks very much for your comment. Most likely what you have is a sugar sifter. Many of them do have curved handles as you describe. Susan

  5. I’m glad to finally have a little time to catch up on your posts…you are a wonderful story-teller.

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