How to Sell Antiques Online on eBay

Woman showing a refinished antique chair to a man in her workshop.

Maskot / Getty Images 

Anyone can learn to sell antiques online. When most people think of the word antique, they think of their grandmother's huge heavy armoire or carved four-poster bed. Antiques can be all sorts of things that are small enough to fit in your pocket. With easy access to eBay and other sites, as well as access to information, it is relatively easy to make money selling your antiques online.

What Exactly Qualifies as an Antique?

Before you can sell your items and classify them as antique, you must understand how an item is determined to be antique and what the word means. Webster's Dictionary defines an antique as, "a collectible object such as a piece of furniture or work of art that has a high value because of its considerable age." According to Antiques HQ, in the antique trade, the term refers to objects more than 100 years old. Items begin to be considered vintageat 20 years old. Generally speaking, vintage often refers to items from the years 1960-1979, and retro refers to the years 1950-1960. Using the correct keyword for your antiques is very important, as you want to match your item with buyer searches, and you don't want to be reported for misclassifying your item. 

What Types Sell the Best?

The answer to this question will depend on who you ask, and how you define the word "best." eBay shows over 600,000 items with the keyword "antique" currently listed. Over 162,000 items with the keyword "antique" sold in the last 30 days. The most popular categories include:

  • Primitives
  • Vases
  • Rugs and carpets
  • Metalware
  • Dolls and bears
  • Clocks and clock parts
  • Jewelry
  • Art

Before listing on eBay, you will want to consider the complexity of shipping the item as well as how fragile it is. The last thing you want to happen is to sell something like an antique chandelier or lamp and have it arrive broken.

Which Are Easiest to Ship?

The first question you should ask yourself before listing anything on eBay, whether antique or not, is, "How will I ship this?" When learning to sell antiques or anything else on eBay, it is a good idea to start with items that are smaller than a breadbox. Do not start with the most expensive small items, such as jewelry. You want to get a feel for selling antiques before jumping into the high dollar stuff.

If you are a novice shipper, good items to start with are non-breakables. For example, brass, iron, or metal hardware from furniture old homes. Things like keys, locks, cabinet knobs or drawer pulls, hinges, clock parts, tools, belt buckles, buttons, smaller cast iron cookware. Learning how to ship includes packaging, choosing the right class of mail, printing labels, and figuring out how the whole process works. Don't complicate things by adding fragile, glass, ceramic, porcelain, or other breakable items to the mix until you have more experience.

How to Place a Value

Before you jump into eBay selling, you will want to understand how to place a value on your antiques. Most average people are not savvy about what their antique is worth, and it probably isn't worth what you think it is, which can be good or bad. Of course, an item is only worth what someone will pay for it. But, it is wise to do your due diligence and see what the market price is for your items. A few resources that may help include:

  1. Search eBay complete (not active) listings to see what similar items have sold for.
  2. Search the site, which is an online antiques and collectibles mall.
  3. Check the site as they are the experts in the antique world.
  4. Check 

Try to get a price from three different sources to get an overview of what the antique is worth. When listing on eBay, don't do auctions. Always price high and add Best Offer and wait. If you get several offers about the same price, you can figure out what the market will bear. You can always come down on price, but you want to avoid selling your item too cheap and leaving money on the table.