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What's Selling on eBay: November 2015

What's Selling on ebay: November 2015

by Deborah Abernethy and Mike McLeod
$5,101 (19 bids, 13 bidders): Antique Folding Mining/Miner’s Candle Holder Lamp, AETNA POWDER CO.
This is a wonderful, nickel-plated original, antique, folding miner’s/mining candleholder/lamp, made by Aetna Powder Company, Chicago, IL. It measures approximately 6.25 inches when fully opened up. It is nice and tight, opening and closing easily.
(Photo, courtesy of eBay seller heiercls.)
DBA: These devices were used from about 1860 until the early part of the 20th century and attached to the miner’s cap. Mining equipment has always had a strong collector’s market. This candleholder is especially nice. While it is possible to find miner’s candleholders for amounts in the low $100ís, the ones I found are not comparable to this example. When an object is a much better example than other objects in the same category, it is difficult to say whether it is a good deal for the seller or buyer, as the objects are not comparable.

$4,186 (43 bids, 8 bidders): Antique Four BBBB Crushed Plug Pocket Tobacco Tin – Burlington, IA.
Old antique pocket type tobacco tin, Four BBBB Crushed Plug from Burlington IA. Not in perfect condition but not bad either.
(Photo: eBay seller oldrivermiss.)
DBA: John Blaul had a wholesale grocery store in Burlington, IA, that was well known. His products all had very attractive tins and/or labeling, and many have been copied. You will find these for sale in new condition. While this one is obviously an antique one, these can be found for a few dollars. Buyer beware.
I did find another John Blaul tobacco canister which sold for $1,700 at auction. Although other John Blaul products could be found, few tobacco products were available. That brings another collectible object at issue. Tobacco objects are a different category than just advertising tins, meaning that tobacco objects are in a different league than regular advertising tins. The previously mentioned $1,700 tobacco advertising tin is quite an amount off from the $4,186 paid for this object. I think that the seller got a good deal in this situation. eBay has become a huge collector’s market rather than auction market for many objects.
$2,850 (12 bids, 5 bidders): High Eagle Cairns Helmet with Brass Front Piece and Fox Finial.
Rare historical, antique, (circa 1850) Cairns Brothers High Eagle Helmet with engraved brass front piece and fox finial. Helmet is a presentation or parade-weight helmet and was manufactured by Cairns Brothers shortly after they acquired the company from H. T. Gratacap.
The helmet has an 8-sided green paper label inside the crown, which reads, “Cairns & Brother, successors to H. T. Gratian.”  The helmet was manufactured at the 143 Grand St. address which was used by Gratacap and Cairns from 1836 to 1906. In a communication I received from Peter Coombs, a great great grandson of one of the original Cairns brothers, he indicated, “The helmet dates from the transitional time right after the purchase (late 1840s early 1850s) until the Cairns brothers had established themselves in their own right.” He further indicated that he had never seen a similar label and that would further indicate its date of manufacture as during the 1840 to 1860 time period.
The front piece and the finial are in excellent condition; the helmet has some minor damage which is consistent with its age and weight. The front brim is worn, and the wire is showing for about 1 to 1 1/4 inches; there is a crack or tear on the right side brim (facing) of the helmet, and there is also some cracking in the right side of the beaver tail.
(Photo: eBay seller: nfr-c12.)

DBA: It would be hard to say if this was more collectible because it was a Cairns helmet or because of the history with the location. It could fall into multiple collector categories. Cairns helmets are still being produced today, and these new fire helmets sell for around $800 each. Historic ones with ties to local fire departments would obviously be more
valuable. While this seems like a high price for a fireman’s helmet, this one is older with history with the beginnings of the Cairn Company and has some additional provenance with the location. The buyer got a good deal.
$3,706 (54 bids, 15 bidders): Miniature Salesman Sample Antique Home Comfort Range Porcelain Stove.
Wow! We have had many examples of antique salesmen samples in the past, but the Miniature Kitchen Stove Sample in this auction is by far the most impressive and the rarest! The Home Comfort Range Model DA Stove was produced by the Wrought Iron Range Company of St. Louis, MO, during the 1930s. This stove was marketed as a kitchen stove that could also be used as a heat source. If you search online, you can find examples of these full-sized 1930s stoves for sale, but you will not find another example of the salesmen sample that we are selling tonight!
This finely detailed miniature stove measures only 14.5 inches wide by 10.75 inches deep and 15 inches tall. This is the true definition of a salesman sample as it is extremely detailed with fully operational functions. The three front doors close and lock by lifting the handles up, just like the full sized stove. There is a thermometer gauge on the front of the center door, and all of the burner grates are removable. The tool to remove them is retained. You can open and close the iron grates within the heater portion to the left. The three knobs at the top of the stove turn, but I am not sure what the left and right ones do, although I can feel them moving some sort of mechanism. The center knob turns the grate inside the smoke stack. The original attachment to this smoke stack is missing.
There is only one problem with this porcelain stove. The rectangular cover on the right hand side of the stove top should be white speckled porcelain, and a past owner has replaced it with a black cover which does not fit.
On the inside of the right hand door is a plaque which identifies this as a model DA and the factory number is M1158. This Home Comfort Range was stored in its original 16.5 by 12.5 by 18.25-inches tall travel case and like the stove is in very good, clean condition. The white enameled surface has some light surface rubs and edge wear, as well as some very light removable surface rust along the inside rims where the burner grates sit. There are no other major problems or any restorations.
(Photo, courtesy of eBay seller wwolst12.)
DBA:  Saleman’s samples have a strong collector base, and this example is operational/functional, making it even more unusual and valuable. This amount is really the “going rate” for a salesman sample of this caliber. The issue is whether one can find similar objects selling in other markets for a similar price, meaning if one needed to sell the object, would it successfully sell? While it is much more difficult (or impossible) to predict future sales values, it is easy to check if this price is a fluke or the “regular price.”
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: November 2015