Selling Antiques on eBay: Everything You Should Know

Updated May 26, 2022
inspecting heirloom jewelry in drawer

If you have some items you're inherited or are changing your decorating style, selling antiques on eBay is easier than you might think. With a few helpful tips and a basic understanding of the eBay selling process, you can turn a profit and find new homes for items you don't want to keep.

Which Antiques Sell Well on eBay

eBay isn't the best place to sell every type of antique, but there are lots of items that do sell well in online auctions. These fall into a few basic categories.

Antiques You Can Ship Affordably

Large, heavy items like antique sewing machines, furniture, farm tools, barber chairs, and other pieces can sell better in local classifieds than on eBay. Shipping these pieces can be incredibly costly--sometimes more than the value of the item itself. You can list them as local pickup only on eBay, but you may get more notice by selling them on consignment at a local store or on a local classified website or marketplace.

Instead, focus your eBay selling attention on items you can ship without too much expense. Choose pieces like china and glass that can travel long distances affordably if they are well packed. Similarly, collectibles, toys, clothing, small decorative items, and other small things are good eBay selling choices.

Vintage Items That Fit With Current Trends

farmhouse decor white antique clock and pitchers

Although many antiques increase in value over time, the antiques market has trends. Often, these follow the interior decorating or fashion trends that are going on everywhere. If you're looking for an antique that will sell well on eBay, pick items that are currently "in style" in a vintage sense.

For example, the modern farmhouse decorating style relies on mixing neutral-toned antiques with modern furnishings. Natural materials are important too. This means that small wooden crates and boxes will sell for more than they otherwise might, as well baskets, neutral cotton or linen textiles, cast iron decorations, and other pieces that fit with the modern farmhouse look. eBay can be the perfect place to sell these things because it allows you to reach a large audience of potential buyers who are all trying to stay on-trend in their decorating and will bid the prices up on the items.

Toys and Collectibles That Spark Nostalgia

Even in easy times, being an adult can be a bit of a challenge. When times get more difficult, it's natural to long for some of the joys of childhood. Antiques and vintage items that spark nostalgia can sell quickly on eBay, especially if they are rare or are especially iconic.

Before you send that vintage Barbie doll to the donation bin, consider listing her on eBay. The same goes for other classic toys like Matchbox cars, action figures, famous stuffed animals, and more. If you loved it as a kid or your parents spoke of playing with it, there's a good chance it will sell well on eBay.

Basic Process for Selling Antiques on eBay

woman setting up Ebay account on laptop computer

Once you know what you'd like to sell, you need a good understanding of how to sell antique on eBay. This step-by-step guide can help.

1. Set Up a Selling Account on eBay

You'll need an account to start selling your antiques. Signing up for an eBay seller's account is free. To create the seller's account, you must first be registered with eBay. To do this, click on the registration form and fill in the required personal information. You'll need to do the following:

  • Choose an eBay user ID and password.
  • Verify your identity by providing credit or debit card information and/or checking account information.
  • Become PayPal verified.
  • Choose how to pay your seller fees.
  • Select the payment methods that you will accept for the items you sell.

2. Open a PayPal Account

If you do not have a PayPal account, you must open one. PayPal is an online system that allows you to send and receive money without directly dealing with credit card transactions. A lot of people prefer to buy online using PayPal because it is safer than sharing credit card information. If you do not have an account, visit PayPal to open one before you start selling.

3. Consider What Kind of eBay Listing You Want

eBay offers a number of ways to sell antiques online. Each has advantages and disadvantages, and you'll need to give this some thought before you list your item. These are your options:

  • Auction - With an auction, you can set the starting price low and establish a reserve or minimum price you'll accept. Then bidders will compete with one another to get the antique or collectible, driving up the price. This works well for hot items that everyone wants.
  • Buy It Now - eBay's Buy It Now feature lets you set a price for an antique and sell it without negotiation. It's a good way for buyers to get something they want without the hassle of an auction. Buy It Now prices tend to be higher than auction prices, but things won't sell if you don't price them competitively.
  • Make Offer - You can give buyers the option of making an offer on your item, whether you're listing it as an auction or a Buy It Now price or both. The potential buyer will contact you with an offer, which you can accept, reject, or counter. This gives you a little flexibility in your pricing for Buy It Now items.

4. Decide How to Price Your Item

Antiques that sell quickly on eBay are priced competitively, but it can be a challenge to figure out what sort of price will be attractive to buyers. The key to accurate pricing is doing a little research before listing the item. Find out how much your antique is worth, how its condition may impact its value, and what similar pieces are selling for right now.

  • Identify the item. Take a few minutes to examine and identify the antique you have. Markings, materials, brand names, and distinctive features will affect its value.
  • Assess its condition. Look at your item to determine what kind of shape it's in. If it has damage, obvious repairs, missing pieces, or other problems, make a note of that.
  • Research antique values. Look your item up in antique price guides. Check out what similar items have sold for on eBay in the past.

5. Take Great Photos of Your Antique Items

These days, selling antiques on eBay is very much about having excellent photos. Your pictures should be of good-quality and will be part of the description for your item. Be sure to include the following in your pictures:

  • Views of all sides
  • All of the details of the item
  • Any maker's marks, hallmarks, or signatures
  • Any identifying tags or features
  • Any flaws or imperfections in the item

6. Write a Great Description of the Antique

The description you write is a very important part of how you sell antiques on eBay. You need to make your item sound attractive, but you also need to clearly describe any flaws it might have. You don't want someone to bid on it and then find it didn't meet their expectations. Be clear in every way you can, including the measurements of the item and any distinguishing marks. Create a good title for your listing, too. Double check the spelling of the title to make sure you don't lose out on any searches because of a mistake.

You should also include information on your shop policies, such as how you handle returns, whether you offer discounts, and where you ship.

7. Remember to Include Shipping Costs

Be aware of how much it will cost to ship the item to various places in the world. You'll need to charge for shipping or include the cost of shipping in the price of the item. If you'll be shipping with different carriers or at different speeds, these costs may vary significantly. Also keep in mind that you'll need packaging to keep the antique item safe in transit, so that should be part of your shipping cost.

Shipping isn't the only cost you should consider when setting prices. Remember to always include your listing and selling fees in the price that you set for your items.

8. Follow Through With Your Listing

Once you've sold an antique on eBay, whether through accepting a winning bid or someone purchasing the item on a Buy It Now listing, you'll need to follow through with the transaction. This includes the following:

  • Shipping the item out in a timely fashion
  • Communicating with the buyer
  • Rating the transaction with the buyer
  • Handling any returns or other concerns the buyer might have

Selling Antiques Can Be Fun and Profitable

Selling on eBay is a great way to turn your unwanted items into cash. It's one of many ways to sell antiques, but for a lot of items, it's also one of the best. Once you learn how to sell on eBay and make your first sale, you will find that it is a fun way to clean out your unwanted things and add money to your bank account.

Selling Antiques on eBay: Everything You Should Know