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What's Selling on eBay: February 2016

What's Selling on eBay: February 2016

by Deborah Abernethy and Mike McLeod
$3,301 (24 bids, 14 bidders): Large Antique Majolica Figural Bottle, Stork Umbrella Glasses & Hat
After doing some searching on the net, I found that this large antique Majolica Stork Bottle is quite rare. I also found that they came in a small and large size. This 15.5-inch tall Majolica bottle is the large size. Wearing a hat and glasses, he has an umbrella under his wing. In the close-up photographs, you will see that part of the eyeglasses is missing, and there is a very tiny fleck to the tip of the stork’s beak. There are no other problems or any restorations to this 19th century Majolica bottle.
(Photo: eBay seller wwolst12.)

DBA: These majolica bottles are quite collectible, and eBay has become the selling place where the highest prices for these bottles can be found. Going back through guides for figural bottles from the past 20 years shows some marked differences. Prices for these objects selling on eBay are much higher than what is recorded at auction or even what the guide books were saying several years ago. Collectors who spend time trying to find these at auction and tag sales usually find the low-price deals. This particular bottle is higher quality and rare, but prices for some figural character bottles can be low when time is taken to seek them out.
One thing I can predict is that with technology advances and more small auctions selling items on an international platform, more collectors will find the unusual finds they are seeking. What I cannot predict is whether the allure for figural bottles will continue with collectors paying this much for one bottle.
$3,367 (60 bids, 14 bidders): 14k gold enameled Society of the Cincinnati badge medal
From the estate of a prominent New England family, a fine antique enameled gold Society of the Cincinnati badge/medal. The badge is a drop-winged eagle with white tail; the enameled body depicts on one side Roman senators with Cincinnatus and says: “OMNIA: RELIQUIT SERVARE REMPUBLICAM.” The reverse shows Fame and says: “INSTAD: 1783 VIRT PRAEM SOCI CIN’RUM.” A “make-do” base metal jump ring joins the medal to the ribbon, which is a bit toned; the medal is in excellent condition. It’s unmarked but tests as 14k. I’m certainly no expert, but as far as I can research, it this appears to be an early variant of this badge. Approximately 4 inches long including the ribbon, the badge is just over 1.5 inches long.
(Photo: eBay seller giltminnow.)

DBA: The Society of Cincinnati is a patriotic society in which the membership comes from officers who served in the Continental Army or Navy for at least three years. It is a hereditary membership with only one descendant representing the original member at any given time, following the laws of primogeniture. Within twelve months of its founding in 1783, 2,150 members had joined. Only about 5,500 men were eligible for membership as colonial militia and minutemen were not eligible, and of the Continental Line, only the officers were eligible. The bald eagle was chosen as the insignia.
This medal very closely resembles the original ones made for the founding members. There were 140 original ones in the first presentation, and one of those from the original 140 was sold for $34,000 at auction earlier this year. This price for this one sold on eBay is a good deal for the buyer; even more recent adaptations of the eagle design for the Society of Cincinnati have sold for as much as $12,000 at auction. This object has a long-standing history of high prices.
$3,300 (34 bids, 8 bidders): Gamewell Citizen Key Cast Iron Police Call Box and Gamewell stand
In amazing condition, the large external cast iron call box has been repainted in black. The lettering is done in gold leaf and looks fantastic. The internal green box has not been repainted and is untouched. All internal parts appear to be in perfect condition just as it would have been approximately 100 years ago. The cast iron Gamewell stand has been repainted to a red color and is in beautiful condition. The code wheel, box number and key all match and is number 25. The key for the citizen key lock is a reproduction but works great.
(Photo: eBay seller pitzer.)

DBA: The Gamewell Company of Newton, Mass., began manufacturing fire alarm boxes in the 1880s. The first ones worked as telegraph call boxes to obviously report a fire. Later, these boxes were made to assist the police in making reports to their headquarters before two-way radio was introduced. Later still, call boxes were introduced for citizens to call for help. This is on the high side of the usual value, which shows how eBay gets to a different market than the usual auction market and sometimes, even dealers.
$3,322 (7 bids, 3 bidders): Antique 1880s Adam Forepaugh Circus Poster Elephants Roman Hippodrome 40 x 30
This is an antique circus poster featuring the Adam Forepaugh Jr. Great Show, Largest In The World. Adam Forepaugh was the son of John Forepaugh, circus owner. The poster reads, “Museum Menagerie, Triple Circus & Roman Hippodrome.” “Adam Forepaugh Jr’s Latest Triumph A Riding Elephant.” This is the second (last) of two posters that we had.
The poster most likely is from the late 1880s when the circus toured the Midwest states in competition with P.T. Barnum. It appears that they had a great rivalry during this era of circus history. The beautifully detailed and bright color lithograph is by The Strobridge Litho Co.
The poster is from an estate in southwest Michigan with the story that the original owner was a circus member who decided to settle in Niles, Mich., when the circus came to town there. The poster measures 40 x 30 inches. It is in poor condition with loss of the poster paper, large tears at the elephants trunks, dirt, smudges, edges missing, etc.
(Photo: eBay seller skyspirit.)
DBA: What I feel is more unusual about this item is that this poster lists Adam Forepaugh, Jr who was an elephant trainer in his father’s circus. His father had often commented that he would be the victor over P.T. Barnum because he had a son to succeed him, and Barnum had none. However, Forepaugh sold his circus the year before his death.
While circus posters are sought after, this is a high price, and many can be found for less money. This poster was not described to be in good condition, and it is the rarity that is driving the price. Also, this one is much larger than other ones I have seen.
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: February 2016