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What's Selling on eBay: March 2016

What's Selling on eBay: March 2016

by Deborah Abernethy and Mike McLeod
$4,383 (32 bids, 9 bidders): Brass N & W RR Railroad Steam Classification Plates
The plates were purchased along with other railroad items on Oct. 16, 2015 from an individual who had placed a classified in the Roanoke Times. This individual started a career at N&W in 1939, and after 42 years service retired in December 1981. In the late 1950s, these plates were collected whenever a steam locomotive was dismantled at the N&W East End Shops in Roanoke Va. They were cleaned and polished at the shops, and then painted, making them suitable for mounting.
Now at age 94, this individual has graciously provided me with a signed and dated letter of authenticity that will be included in the final sale. We are confident as to the accuracy, authenticity and source of these plates. The Plates are A, J, S1a, Y5, Y6, Y6a and Y6b. The back of the J Plate is stamped “R 607,12281”, and it also seems to be nickel-plated on the back and edges. This is the only one with this nickel plating. The back of the Y5 plate is stamped “2059.”  The other plates are not stamped. Each plate measures approximately 8 inches wide by 3 1/2 inches tall, and some are thicker than others, but not by much.
(Photo: eBay seller primrose gypsies.)

DBA: Builders plates are metal plates attached to locomotives and other railroad equipment that serves an identification purpose. The Norfolk and Western Railway plates are quite collectible.  Although little information is shown on these plates, the letter/number combinations identify the engine number.  These steam classification plates are some of the rarest and most prized of railroad collectibles. These are legitimately only available after the equipment is placed out of service. That makes steam classification plates a very limited production object. Obviously, one must be careful as these are very collectible and valuable, those that are authentic.
Several factors can be considered in this transaction: the Norfolk and Western Railway is a very popular railroad for collecting.  The method of marking these is more “limited” than other railroads where much more information is “read” on the plate. The earlier plates are more valuable than the later, and these plates span a wide range of years.  All considered, at a little over $600 per plate, the buyer would have received a good deal.
$3,953 (67 bids, 13 bidders): Large Hand Carved Oak Figure Head Antique Architectural Feature Salvage
I doubt very much that you would be able to remove a piece like this today, and hence, this superb piece is a very rare find. It has been in storage for many years in a London storage facility and is completely fresh to the market. Any previous provenance has been long forgotten, and I am not sure if this has come from a ship or a property. It is hand crafted from oak, and the level of detail is out of the top drawer, the craftsman’s chisel marks clearly visible.
Unsure of exact age, but would estimate second half of the 19th century. This was thick with dust and cobwebs that I have simply brushed off. It has the appearance of limed oak, but I think this is just ingrained dust and the wood being dry. It is ready for whatever finish you decide on.
There are a few age related shrinkage cracks, and the bottom inch of the piece is fragile and may need to be cut off and a new piece spliced in. There are no breaks, repairs or restorations. It is just how you would like to find it. Measurements are about 58 inches x 18 inches at its widest point.
(Photo: eBay seller goofle.)

This figure reminds me of Bacchus/Dionysius and may be a theatre artifact. I do not believe that it has any ship connection. Only female figures have been used to adorn ships. I would say the seller got a good deal as, even though this figure looks nice, I can find no similar objects selling for this amount in wood material.
$5,049.99 (57 bids, 17 bidders): Pavel Ovchinnikov Russian 84 Silver Enamel Cloisonne Egg w/ Jewels
Measuring 4.25 inches long with a center circumference of 9 inches, this large antique Russian .84 Sterling Silver Enameled Egg was made by Pavel Akimov Ovchinnikov (1853-1916). The Kokoshnik mark on the inside dates this egg from circa 1910, and it has a finely detailed, shaded enamel-cloisonne floral decoration. Also accenting the top and bottom of this egg are small round cabochon jewels. The large stones on the top and bottom are amethysts, and they are surrounded by 10 garnets. The inside of this .84 silver egg has a gold vermeil which does have some light wear. In the row of white enameled dots around the middle there are tiny spaces near the enamel, which happened when it was fired. There are no problems or any restorations to this authentic Pavel Ovchinnikov Russian Enamel Egg.
(Photo: eBay seller wwolst12.)

  While this is a good price for a sterling enameled egg, this one is really at the high end for the enamel work and jewels. My thoughts are that the buyer got a good deal in this transaction. When you compare prices for eggs, this seems in line with others, but the enameling on this egg is really nice.
Pavel Ovchinnikov was a remarkable man who was born a serf yet exhibited skills that enabled him to be sent to study in Moscow (by Prince Volkonsky), and who rose to become a remarkable jeweler, goldsmith, silversmith, and businessman. He founded a school for silversmiths and goldsmiths and opened factory shops. He died in 1888 so this egg with a date mark of 1910 was by the son named Pavel Ovchinnikov who continued the business, along with several of his brothers. It is still a beautiful object, but if this was by the master, it probably would have brought more.
$3,600 (14 bids, 10 bidders): Bronze Fulton Ship Works Steamship San Francisco Hull ID Builders Plate
I have had a few antique ship builders’ plates over the years, but this is by far the earliest and most unusual. This large plate is a circa 1898 Fulton Engineering and Shipbuilding Works of San Francisco California bronze ship builder Hull ID Plate/Plaque. These were mounted in the ship as ID Plates for the hulls of steamships. This plate is dated 1898 and is for Hull No. 47 Marine Engine No. 153. It is very ornate with the beautiful font and border design and measures 25 1/2 inches wide and is 19 inches tall by 3/8 inch thick. Heavy for its size, solid bronze. It is in good condition with the only real flaw being a very slight curve to it, likely from its removal from the ship. Fulton Engineering ceased to exist in 1908, though Fulton Iron Works continued. Overall, a very nice and historical maritime item likely not to be seen again.
(Photo: eBay seller gypsiegirlz.)

  This is a rare object, and this is a retail price for it. Given that statement, I would say the buyer got a good deal as the selling commissions are quite low for eBay when compared to other types of selling commissions. I did find one offered for sale at $3,500 that was a 1919 ship.
Deborah Abernethy is a certified appraiser with the International Association of Appraisers.  She can be contacted at 404-262-2131 or Her website is

What’s Selling on eBay: March 2016