Selling Your Audubon Prints on eBayģ

By Ron Flynn

Youíve decided to sell your Audubon print or prints on eBay. Youíve read my article Selling Your Audubon Prints (especially the Selling on eBay section) on this website. Youíve exhausted all other possibilities of finding a buyer and nobody wants to buy the prints you own (this should be a clue). You donít have the time to leave your prints on consignment with a dealer for a really good price. OK, then you just want to get rid of the prints you have, as quickly as possible, and youíll take whatever you can get for them. Then, eBay is for you.

Do you know exactly what edition of Audubon prints you have? Do you even know if they are originals, quality facsimiles, or cheap reproductions? If not, read my articles, Is Your Audubon Print An Original and Modern Audubon Birds of America D.E.F. Editions, on this website to help find out what Audubon print you have. If you cannot find your Audubon print in either of the above articles, then it is most likely that you have one of the 25 million or more cheap reproductions that were mostly given away beginning in the 1930s, and continuing today. People take apart illustrated Audubon books, published since the 1930s, and try and sell the pictures out of these books as originals or vintage prints. Also, well over 20 million cheap Audubon reproduction prints were produced and given away as premiums by banks, insurance companies and other businesses during the 1930s-1960s. Just because your print says Havell in the lower right corner, with a date in the 1800s, does not make it an original, or even a high quality facsimile. 

Lastly, in recent years there have been thousands and thousands of Audubon prints produced as cheap posters or ďfine artĒ items sold mostly in decorator and home/garden type magazines. They may make nice decorative items on your wall, but their resale market value is only about what the used frame is worth. So, if you have Audubon pictures out of a 20th century book, cheap give away reproductions from the 1930s-1960s, or just modern day Audubon decorator prints, I wish you luck in selling them on eBay. There are scores of these cheap reproductions auctioned on eBay each week. Most donít ever sell, but occasionally some seller scams an unknowing buyer into buying one for a few dollars. To me, not one of them is worth even $1.00 apiece.

Now, if your prints are better than those described above, and you still want/need to sell them on eBay, read on. Iíll assume you have identified what editions your prints are from. But, do you know the market value of each and every Audubon print you intend to sell? Forget about what you paid for them. Now, youíve decided to sell them on eBayís secondary auction market for whatever you can get for them (within reason? maybe?). It is extremely important to know the market value of anything you are trying to sell. It is also extremely important to know the eBay market if you are going to be successful selling your Audubon prints there. As far as the market value of your Audubon prints, I can sell you well researched Price Guides, for $14.00 or less, of most Audubon edition prints at www.audubonprices.com. Later in this article, I will tell you about the eBay market in relation to Audubon prints, and what you can expect to get for your prints.

Which Audubon Prints Sell On eBay Ė  

Most all of the high quality modern DEF Audubon prints, described in the above article, are sold on eBay. Amsterdams and Abbevilles are probably found most often on eBay. Quite a good number of Loates and Leipzig prints appear on eBay from time to time. Iíve even seen some Princeton Audubons and Institute de France prints for sale on eBay. I think that some day in the future we will see some of the newer Oppenheimer Editions and Audubon Centennial Edition prints on eBay.

If you have original Audubon prints, the octavo birds and quads are probably the most frequently sold originals on eBay. First Editions, as well as later editions, are regularly for sale. I think you would find that the First Edition octavo bird prints are the most popular item on eBay. Original Audubon Havell, Bien and Imperial Folio Quad prints are occasionally seen on eBay. Most of the Havells are trimmed, and virtually all of the prints from these three later editions are in generally poor condition. If you have original Audubon Havells, Biens or Imperial Folio prints, or trimmed Havells, that are in poor condition and no dealer wants to buy them, then GO AHEAD and sell them on eBay and get what you can. If your Havells, Biens and Imperial Folio prints are in pretty good shape, I have another idea for you towards the end of this article.

Selling Framed Prints o eBay Ė

First, DO NOT sell framed Audubon prints on eBay. You will never get a good price for them. I would NEVER bid on a framed Audubon print on eBay. Itís too risky. Mat and frame packages hide flaws and damage. Prints that have been framed for more than around 10 years will certainly have some hidden damage or flaws under the mat. While the picture in the frame may look good to you, it has probably faded over time. Also, the old frame will probably have chips and scratches. Would even one in 50 buyers want your old frame and mat, and be willing to pay the high shipping charges to ship frame and glass? DO NOT spend money to put your print in a new archival frame and mat. A buyer will still have to like your choice of mat and frame, and will still be suspicious of what you are hiding under the new mat.

If you have a framed Audubon print to sell, open the frame and take out the top mat and back mat. Thoroughly examine and measure the print. Note all flaws and damage. I have an article, Definitions of Print Flaws and Damage, on this website which will help you describe the condition of your print. Photograph your print out of the frames so buyers can see the whole print. You can still slip the print and mat back in the frame, if you still want to sell it, and take a 2nd picture with the print in the frame. However, these pictures usually turn out poorly because of flash reflections from the glass.

Your eBay Listing Ė

BE HONEST AND THOROUGH in describing what you have for sale on eBay. Look at other Audubon eBay auctions to get an idea of what is included in their listings. CIRQLAR and rareprintsgallery.com are two of the best eBay sellers of Audubon prints. Look at their listings and photos for ideas. HOWEVER, DO NOT COPY THEIR LISTINGS OR ANYONE ELSEíS. They are copyrighted.

DO NOT copy or use excerpts or material from any of my articles or other publications. THEY ARE ALL COPYRIGHTED. I watch eBay listings and have caught several people recently using my copyrighted material. Generally, I give permission to people who ask in advance, to use my copyrighted material provided they give proper credit. Finally, read my article, Buying Audubon Prints on eBay, With Recommendations - 07/14/06, on this website to find out what you are realistically up against and find out some more things NOT to do when selling on eBay.

Take good bright pictures for your eBay auction sale. Too many pictures on eBay are small and dark, and do not show the condition or details of the print. Look at the pictures of the above 2 mentioned eBay sellers. Find a place with lots of indirect sunlight or lots of bright interior lighting, and then take your flash picture. Photograph your print (or a print out of its frame) against a dark colored background. It is important for buyers to be able to see the entire print and its edges. If you feel it necessary, take additional close up photos of the image and/or text credits.

Pricing Your Audubon Prints To Sell On eBay Ė

You must decide on an opening bid price that will attract bidders, and not drive them away. With all inexperienced eBay sellers there is a strong desire to set the opening bid price at either what you paid for the item or what you are willing to let it go for. FORGET THAT TYPE OF THINKING! This is eBay, and you canít find any dealer to buy your prints, and you just want to get rid of them for whatever you can get. DO NOT set some wishful reserve amount such as in the above two examples. You may notice that the two top Audubon eBay sellers that I mentioned above start virtually all their auctions at $9.95! Their prints may wind up selling for $20-$50 or $200-$500 or $1000 or more, AND THEY SELL EVERY PRINT AND ACCEPT WHAT THEY GET.

OK, I am assuming you know the retail market value of the prints you want to sell on eBay, either from my Price Guides at www.audubonprices.com  or other research. Use the low end of any retail price ranges as your starting point. I have been tracking Audubon prints on eBay for nearly 6 years. I can tell you with certainty that over 90% of all Audubon prints sold on eBay realize prices that are 50% OR LESS than retail market price. Those few prints that sell for more than 50% of retail market value are mostly upper tier prints or the occasional print that is wanted by two or more people, and they run up the price. Donít count on that happening too often.

YOU NEVER WANT YOUR AUCTION LISTING TO END WITH NO BIDS AND NO SALE. Therefore to attract bidders and almost insure a sale, SET YOUR OPENING BID PRICE AT NO MORE THAN 25% OF RETAIL MARKET VALUE, AND SET NO RESERVE!

Sell your prints on eBay between October and April, if you can. There are more eBay buyers around from fall to spring. Chances are that you wonít get the best price if you sell in the summer.

The cold sad truth is that if you bought your prints at retail within the last 5 years, with very very few exceptions, you will most certainly lose money. Even if you bought your prints on eBay within the last 5 years, youíll be lucky to break even. If you inherited or were given your prints, you will make whatever money the eBay market will pay for the prints you have. If you have held your prints, purchased at retail, for 10 years or more (though I canít imagine someone holding prints that long that a dealer would not be interested in), I think youíll make a little money selling them on eBay.

Three of my Price Guides have detailed records of eBay sales for each print in those specific editions. Here are some examples from those Price Guides, my records and recent observations. Original Audubon 1st edition octavo bird prints always sell well on eBay. The least popular lower tier prints sell in the $25-$50 range on eBay. First edition upper tier prints sell for what a dealer might pay you or more. In fact, several dealers buy these prints on eBay and turn around and sell them in their galleries.

Original Audubon octavo quad prints have come down a bit in price over the last 2 years. The least popular mice, rat, etc. lower tier prints have sold on eBay in the $10-$50 price range. The most popular upper tier quadruped prints sell from $200 up to sometimes $500, though the lower price area is currently more likely. Both of the above editions are covered in detail in my Price Guides.

Amsterdam print prices dropped sharply within the last 2 years, especially the upper tier prints. The least popular lower tier prints sell in the $10-$40 range. It is now unusual to find an upper tier Amsterdam print selling on eBay for much more than $500. I have a Price Guide for this edition with complete details. The Abbevilles closely parallel the Amsterdams in price. You can read my FREE article, The Audubon Abbeville Edition and Print Prices, for more information.

Sadly, many people paid hundreds and even thousands of dollars for M. Bernard Loates prints prior to 1998. One Internet seller is still retailing these prints at $644 each. On eBay, the vast majority of the 29 different prints sell for around $50 or less. The few that might be considered upper tier prints might sell for up to $100 to maybe $200 or more. The 40 different Leipzig Edition prints do turn up on eBay from time to time. The lower tier prints sell in the $25-$50 range. The upper tier prints have sold for mostly $100-$300, though a few have sold between $400-$500.

Princeton-Audubon prints when sold on eBay generally realize about 50%, or a little less, of their current retail price (these prints are still being sold by the publisher and associated dealers). Finally, a few of the 3 different hand colored Institute de France Edition prints have sold on eBay in the $500-$1000 range. However, this was more than a year ago when the retail prices were higher. Now, a new dealer has bought the entire supply, and is remarketing them at lower retail prices, and none have recently turned up on eBay.

eBay LIVE -

I mentioned earlier that if you have original Audubon Havell, Bien or Imperial Folio prints that are in poor condition, I would sell them on eBay for what you could get. Again, these would be prints that no dealer wanted to buy. It is also possible that you might not find a buyer for a trimmed Havell in very good condition that has been in its frame for years and years. These might be prints youíll have to sell on eBay.

Earlier, I also mentioned a possible solution for selling Havell, Bien and Imperial Folio prints, that are in pretty good condition or better, and that no dealer wants to buy. I am still puzzled that you could not find a buyer, because I know many dealers that are always looking to buy these prints. Anyway, look into eBay LIVE. Over a 2-3 month period, do a search for ďAudubonĒ at eBay LIVE. Note the auction houses that are selling Audubon prints, and the edition of the prints they have listed. You are looking for medium to large auction houses that have their own galleries where the auctions are actually held. Each auction house may have only 1 or 2 auctions a year that would be suitable for your Audubon prints to be in. But, different auction houses will hold their auctions at scattered times, so there should always be a suitable upcoming auction. All but the actual eBay LIVE part of this is covered in more detail in my Selling Your Audubon Prints article. If you donít want to go the regular auction house route, then maybe an auction house that goes on eBay LIVE is for you and your Havell, Bien and Imperial Folio prints.

I havenít paid all that much attention to eBay LIVE until recently. Two very good auction houses that I have seen there are Swann and Neal Auctions. As this is written, I notice that Neal Auctions even has a few Amsterdam prints on eBay LIVE in an upcoming auction. It will be interesting to see how they do. I would avoid auctioneers like GoAntiques and Universal LIVE, who seem to sell a lot of framed reproductions.

In Conclusion -

I don't believe that eBay is the place for the average Audubon collector to make money. Successful Audubon eBay sellers buy large quantities or complete sets/volumes of Audubon prints at bargain prices. They then sell off the individual prints on eBay and make money. If you have a similar situation, or have inherited same, you too can make money selling Audubon prints on eBay. Depending on the prints, if you have held Audubon prints for perhaps 10 years or more, you should at least break even selling on eBay, and maybe make some money. Otherwise, you should think of eBay as a place of last resort to sell your unwanted Audubon prints for whatever cash you can get.

    

   

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