How to Find Research Information for Collectibles on eBay

Experts have been buying, selling, and trading collectible items for years. But just because you're new to eBay doesn't mean that you have to be a newbie for decades before you can start bartering with the collecting gods.

You can get information on items you're interested in, as well as good collecting tips, right at the eBay website. Visit the category-specific discussion boards in the community area. You can also search the rest of the web or go the old-fashioned route and check the library (yes, libraries are still around).

Keep in mind that there are truly several prices for an item: the retail (or manufacturer's suggested retail price — MSRP) price, the book value, the secondary market price (the price charged by resellers when an item is unavailable on the primary retail market), and the eBay selling price. The only way to ascertain the price an item will go for on eBay is to research the listings of sold items.

Searching sites online for collectibles information

If you don't find the information you need on eBay, don't go ballistic — just go elsewhere. Even a site as vast as eBay doesn't have a monopoly on information. The Internet is filled with websites — and, for that matter, Internet auction sites that can give you price comparisons and information about cyberclubs.

Your home computer can connect to powerful outside servers (really big computers on the Internet) that have their own fast-searching systems called search engines. Remember, if something is out there and you need it, you can find it right from your home PC in a matter of seconds. Here are the addresses of some of the web's most highly regarded search engines or multi-search-engine sites:

The basic process of getting information from an Internet search engine is pretty simple:

  1. Type the address of the search-engine site in the Address box of your web browser.

    You're taken to the website's home page.

  2. Find the text box next to the button labeled Search or something similar.

  3. In the text box, type a few words indicating what interests you.

    Be specific when typing search text. The more precise your entry, the better your chances of finding what you want. Look for tips, an Advanced Search option, or help pages on your search engine of choice for more information about how to narrow your search.

  4. Click the Search (or similar) button or press Enter on your keyboard.

    The search engine presents you with a list of the Internet pages that feature the requested information. The list of links includes brief descriptions and links to the first group of pages. You'll find links to additional listings at the bottom if your search finds more listings than can fit on one page. (And if you ask for something popular, like Harry Potter, don't be surprised to get millions of hits.)

Always approach information on the web with caution. Not everyone is the expert he or she would like to be. Your best bet is to get lots of different opinions and then boil 'em down to what makes sense to you. And remember — caveat emptor. (Is there an echo in here?)

Many people on the West Coast buy cars on eBay. If you're researching prices to buy a car on eBay, look in your local newspaper to get a good idea of prices in your community. Several good sites are on the Internet.

Finding other sources of information

If you're interested in collecting a particular item, you can get a lot of insider collecting information without digging too deep:

  • Go to other places on the Internet. The Internet is full of insider info. Remember to take advice with caution, however, because sometimes the "competition" likes to keep the good nuggets of info for themselves.

  • Go to the library (or buy a book)! Books and magazines are great sources of info, especially out-of-print books. You'll no doubt find at least one book or one magazine specializing in your chosen item.

    If you find an interesting specialty magazine at the library, try entering the title in your search engine of choice. You may just find that the magazine has also gone paperless and you can read it online.

  • Go to someone else who's in the know. Friends, clubs, and organizations in your area can give you a lot of info. Ask your local antiques dealer about clubs you can join and see how much info you end up with.

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