Some folks say, “it’s only worth what someone is willing to pay.” Others just tell you, “check Ebay sold listings.” Are either of these answers helpful? Not really but we are going to delve a little further into the subject today and show you a relatively simple method that anyone can use to determine an approximate value range for their vintage lighter.
It’s Worth What Someone Will Pay!
Both of the answers quoted above are posited often in the Facebook lighter groups. I think they both are technically correct but I don’t believe either is particularly useful.
The first one just seems so obvious I wonder why anyone would ever take the time out of their day to type it out. I mean, there aren’t very many people out there buying lighters with guns held to their head so I just don’t see the point.
So when someone asks, “how to find comp values for vintage cigarette lighters?” this answer just seems angry and not helpful at all. I like to be helpful and preferably friendly!
Check Ebay “Sold” Listings
This answer, just like the first, is true as well it is just that it’s over-simplified to the point that it doesn’t really pass on any actionable steps, just a vague finger pointing in a far away direction of which the seeker is ignorant. If they could grasp this notion, they would have done it rather than taking the shortcut of asking the question in the first place.
So, I would like to show you a few pointers and give you a glimpse into the method that I use in practically every Ebay search that I execute. These tips will help you zero in on the proper value so you know how much you can wisely ask if you have a lighter or really any other items that you are trying to sell.
If you are a collector though and never put much thought into how you search Ebay when looking for prospective old lighters to add to your collection, then you can assuredly benefit from these tips as well because the default parameters determining what shows up in your search results are typically not beneficial when looking for scarce items. Ebay’s defaults are built for the masses, not for locating rare items.
Toggling The Correct Buttons
The categories you search can make or break your ability to ascertain the information you need right off the bat if you have them set incorrectly. Fortunately, I have developed a fool-proof method to keep you from ever missing out on helpful info again. Or considering you can use these same search principles when looking for lighters to purchase, perhaps these tips can save you from being ignorant of a lighter you would otherwise jump at the opportunity to buy.
The most important tip I’m going to give you right off the bat! Execute every search under the All Categories option. That may seem simple but you have no idea of the number of desirable items you are going to miss by searching specific categories, literally you have no idea because you do not see them!
Categories by definition are meant to narrow things down, not be all-inclusive. Now, I understand that including all categories in your search is probably going to include some items you don’t really care to see but that is a minor nuisance in my book rather than the major aggravation of having realized you didn’t get the opportunity to purchase a lighter because the seller had listed it in the wrong category.
It happens all the time and many sellers actually list items in the wrong category simply to widen the audience that sees them. When I have a lighter who’s advertising is more prominently known than the lighter brand, I list it in a category apropos of the advertising rather than the lighter itself.
You can always choose to narrow your search if the results are truly too varied and many. It’s not so easy though to widen a search after the fact that you missed altogether in the first place!
Now, when searching for comps, perhaps the most important button to get right is the “Sold Items” slider. When you slide the “Sold” button, the “Completed Listings” slider will be activated as well.
All of these can be filtered further in the “Sort” function of the menu by Price, Ending Time, Newly Listed, etc.
Searching For The Proper Terms
As you saw in the demonstration conducted in the YouTube video on the subject of determining lighter values, the actual terms you search(or leave out) play a huge role in whether the search query returns results that satisfy your informational
needs. When we searched “Zippo black crackle” there were many modern lighters toward the bottom of the results which were filtered to Highest Price + Shipping.
Obviously, when finding comparable sales you should be looking at “like” or “similar” items. You can filter some of this down by adding a query to the search above such as: “Zippo black crackle wwii” or “Zippo crackle war” but this could possibly filter out items you want to see as the more terms you add to the query are going to make it less likely to return results matching all of them.
Even adding the term “lighter” to every search query may seem innocuous enough, we are looking for lighters right? But I have seen many listings where the seller never uses the word lighter even though that’s what he’s selling. Some take a minimalist approach or just flat do not care and don’t want to waste any more time than necessary listing their items. I have seen many three word listing titles!
Nuances Of The Trade
Buy It Now(BIN) vs Auction listings are also a major consideration when determining comparable values. You simply can not compare a three-day Auction listing result which had a very limited audience with a Buy It Now listing where a Best Offer was accepted.
Every BIN listing does not set for an extended period but at least the seller had that opportunity. The BIN listing allows a much broader audience than an Auction of any length because the seller had not relinquished control and left himself at the mercy of the limited time the auctions permit.
Also worthy of consideration is the time of day an auction ends. I would find it hard to place any confidence in a comparable auction that ended at 7:00am. Items are sold for bargains regularly in the middle of the night or early morning when most are asleep.
One thing I have learned for a certainty over the yrs on Ebay: most folks don’t bid until the last minute. There is no advantage to bidding early so it seems that most bidders wait until the last five seconds. Do you really think there would be as many eyes on an item at 7 in the morning as the prime time of 7pm?
BIN listing where the seller accepted a Best Offer will not actually show the price they sold for in the search result as the original price will simply be marked through. You can usually figure out a ballpark figure by the prices of the items directly before and after it when the Sort is set to Highest Price + Shipping.
Do You Have A Passion For Lighters
This site exists to promulgate the collection, repair and use of vintage petrol lighters, ashtrays, tobacciana and other useful mechanisms. If you have a soft spot in you heart for these items please take a moment and tell us about it in the comment section below this article. Do you have any tips for searching Ebay that I am ignorant of or may have overlooked? If so, I would love to hear about it and visit with you further and the comment section is a lovely place for that to happen.
The DependableFlame.com Facebook page is a really good place to get ahold of me as well, especially if you need to post a picture to illustrate your comment, question or suggestion. The interface over there is very user-friendly and provides a clearer view of my messages without all the clutter that email entails.
We are currently publishing vintage lighter video to our YouTube channel every weekday morning @8am central. There is some kind of party going on over there and the vintage lighter community gets more interesting by the day. We would appreciate your subscription and also ask that you spread the word by telling all your friends! You just never know who you may show a lighter video to and the next thing you know your friend is a fellow collector. Or maybe finds lighters for you!
Ebay is my office, so feel free to direct message DependableFlame on Ebay anytime as well. I have met a good number of folks in the Ebay messaging function over the yrs and it has almost always been pleasant.
Until next time…