Hunted in the Wild (SOTW, September 28, 2019)

eBay lapsed into its usual Summer doldrums over this past couple of months, but, with Labor day now firmly behind us, we finally have some interesting glass and trends to talk about.

First, I’d like to thank Brad Allin for sending in pics of a glass that he hunted and shot in the wild:

Brad mentioned that he cornered this glass in an antique mall, making it a rare beast indeed, as those of you who trawl antiques stores and shows on a regular basis can testify.

It’s from J H Costello & Co. of Boston, MA. My information on Boston dealers came from Howard Currier and is very limited, but they were in business in 1889 and perhaps through to Prohibition. I’ve only seen this glass once before – on eBay (where else?!). eBay bidder atcoins bought it back in 2009 for $1.99 and then flipped it 8 years later for $51.00.

Speaking of eBay…..

I’ve been beginning or ending SOTW for many years now with some stats on how many glasses have sold, how many went unsold, and what the average sell price is. The average sell price is a reasonably good way of estimating what your collection is worth, assuming it’s average. If the average sell price is $26 and you have 49 glasses in your collection, then it’s probably worth around $1,274.

With that being said, the past 28 days saw 186 pre-pro glass auctions close. Of these, 65 closed without a buyer, and the average price of those that sold was $40.15, which continues the healthy uptick in prices we’ve seen in recent months.

The more interesting part of this is that glasses that I’ve had on my eBay radar for months, and, in some cases, years now, are flying off the virtual shelves. eBay lets you add 300 items to a watchlist, and mine has been filled with active listings for months now, and I’ve had another 100 or so on an overflow list. In the past month, the overflow list has evaporated and I’m back below the 300 eBay watch limit, all because glasses that were viewed as overpriced a couple of years ago are being scooped up in buy-it-nows.

Case in point. I had drafted a post that featured a couple of unloved glasses that have relisted so many times that I’d actually had to modify the parameters in my sales database to record their activity. One of these was a Livingston Thompson from the Thompson Straight Whiskey Co., of Louisville:

It’s a nice enough glass, but, for reasons unknown, has always had difficulty attracting buyers. This particular example was offered by oxygenman, first listing for $49.95 some three or four years ago. It subsequently relisted at least 147 times, with the listing price dropping to a low of $29.95 and rising to a high of $100. It finally sold for $75.00 on September 26. The seller got a premium price for the glass, but one has to think that he/she took a net loss after factoring in the seller and endless relisting fees.

My pick of the week/month has to be the “Old Woodcock” which listed for $198 and attracted only a single bid. Old Woodcock was a Thomas O’Keefe brand – the distillery was based in Oswego, NY. O’Keefe arguably left us two of the top 100 etched pre-pro picture glasses – the Monteagle and the Beaver Run. Once you’ve seen a mint example of either “in the glass”, so to speak, it’s difficult not letting the goal of acquiring one become an obsession.

$198 may seem a lot to pay for a pre-pro glass, but the enamel glasses – especially with pastel highlights and gold curlicues – are as rare as hens teeth. Remember these glasses were all hand-enameled by skilled artists, which made them expensive to produce, even back then when labor costs were minimal. Very few were made and even fewer have survived the 100 or so years since. The old lady pictured above may seem a little frayed around the edges and she’s definitely past her prime, but she’s still a rare find and $198 seems like a bargain given that she would have sold for $400+ not so very long ago.