Carnival Glass is available through many sources. The primary ones are Carnival Glass auctions, Carnival Glass conventions, direct purchase from another collector, from specific sellers who have web sites specifically set up to display and sell Carnival, from eBay or other on-line electronic auction sites, and from Antique Malls, estate sales, etc. To assist you in understanding these varied venues we offer the following thoughts.
Each year there are approximately a dozen Carnival Glass conventions. The Texas Club convention occurs around the first of March. Conventions are multi-day events where club members and guests gather to display, discuss, buy and sell Carnival Glass, and in most cases participate in an auction. Generally glass displays are in many rooms as are quantities of glass for sale. Educational seminars and various events make attendance at any convention rewarding and friendly. Club links are available on this web site or check out our Events page for a listing of conventions.
There are a number of individuals who specialize in the sale of Carnival Glass. Most have web sites where glass can be viewed. These individuals generally have long relationships with Carnival collectors and organizations and can be trusted to provide you with quality service. Links to these sellers are available on this web site.
While many individuals are experienced and comfortable with eBay transactions, others are wary and tend to avoid eBay items. The biggest concern normally expressed is that purchasing from pictures with no ability to inspect the glass personally will lead to the purchase of flawed glass. Perhaps, but we should realize that many of us have handled glass that we have then purchased only to find later it has some flaw that we did not originally notice. Therefore many of us conclude that purchasing from web site pictures through a trusted seller is not significantly risky. A few comments about eBay…
First, the items listed and pictured are entirely the responsibility of the seller. They are not eBay’s responsibility. You can generally determine if the seller is to be trusted by reviewing the sellers Feedbacks. These are comments from individuals who have purchased from this seller. By reviewing them you can determine if the seller provides good service and the items received are as pictured and advertised. You can also determine if the seller handles lots of Carnival glass. Volume sellers generally work very hard to satisfy a buyer.
If you are interested in an item from a seller look carefully at the pictures and read the description. If you want more information or specific pictures send a note (internal through eBay) to the seller and make your request. Many buyers are concerned about clarification of whether or not there is any damage and may want a picture in different lighting (if possible) to determine iridescent qualities.
Purchasing any really nice piece of Carnival on eBay usually involves what we call ‘snipe’ bids that come in during the last few seconds. If you bid a small amount for a more valuable piece don’t be disappointed if someone else gets it as the auction closes.
It costs nothing to sign on to eBay (www.ebay.com) and search for Carnival glass. You can search on items closing soonest, items most recently listed, or various other combinations. No cost, no harm. Everyone should check it out just to see what is there. However, to purchase an item on eBay you need to register as an eBay user (not complicated) and if you are going to bid on items you generally need to register for eBay’s secure payment system, PayPal. Registering for PayPal is not a problem, but for the skittish it might seem alarming because you have to provide some means for PayPal to secure the funds from you to pay for an item that you purchase. In the simplest form this would be credit card information. More experienced users and sellers register their bank numbers. The PayPal process is secure and has worked safely for millions of users. Should you wish to purchase an item and not be registered with PayPal then you would need to send a note to the seller prior to making the purchase and ask if they will accept payment in the form of a Cashier’s Check from your bank or with a personal check. Generally sellers will hold the item from shipment for a number of days until the check is received and clears through their bank.
And lastly, shipping glass items is a little touchy. Most sellers ship using US Post Office Priority Mail. Items arrive within 2 or 3 days. It is normal for shippers to add Postal Insurance to the shipping cost (which in almost all cases you pay as part of the purchase cost). Postal Insurance provides financial coverage in the event the item is lost in shipment, or may cover shipping damage if the Postal handling of the box with a well packed item inside has obviously caused damage and breakage.
Many, many collectors have added wonderful Carnival glass pieces to their collections through eBay purchases, generally at very favorable prices. For collectors unable to travel to conventions or to shop for Carnival in other venues, eBay and other electronic forums are their primary source. So don’t be reluctant to take a look at eBay.
Many of the Carnival Glass auctioneers are now using an on-line application called Auction Flex. Auction Flex is an electronic venue in which the auctioneer can display and provide a description of every item in a future auction. As a general rule auctioneers will post the entire auction listing with pictures on Auction Flex up to 30 days in advance of the actual physical auction. This process is an improvement on the older practice of publishing a pre-auction brochure and mailing it to prospective buyers in advance of an auction. Having pictures of every item is a great advantage to remote prospective buyers who cannot personally attend the actual auction. Links to Carnival Glass auctioneers are available on this web site, please check auctioneer web sites often to stay abreast of the On-Line only auctions.
In some ways the use of Auction Flex is a little like eBay. It is similar in that it allows you to bid on items from your computer in advance of the actual auction. So how does it work ….? First, you gain access to an Auction Flex listing through the auctioneer’s web site. Much like eBay you can then review pictures of the entire inventory of a pending auction. No cost, no other action required. You may find that the Auction Flex listing is for either a physical auction which will take place on a Saturday or it will be for an on-line only auction with a specific closing date. Should you wish to make an on-line bid for either type of auction you will be asked to register with the auctioneer. This is not a complicated process and approval allowing you to bid on-line will normally come within one day.
There are differences between an on-line only auction and a physical auction. The primary difference is that in an on-line auction you either will or will not be the high bidder at the close of the auction. For a physical auction you may be the high bidder when the on-line auction bidding is halted (Friday evening the day before the physical auction) but you may be outbid at the physical auction. For either type of auction the auctioneer will advise you electronically within a few days of the close if you are the winning bidder and will provide you with an invoice that includes shipping and handling charges. Once payment is received you will be shipped whatever items you have won.
One of the major differences between eBay and Auction Flex is that with Auction Flex you are buying from a known Carnival Glass auctioneer. This adds an element of trust that may not be present on eBay.
Auction Flex has expanded the opportunity for buyers and sellers through on-line access. This has allowed auctioneers to handle much more glass on a yearly basis. It allows sellers to have their glass sold on a more timely basis, and it provides buyers with access to a larger inventory of glass. Please give the auctioneers and their Auction Flex application a chance. Odds are you will be glad you did.
Whether you are on eBay or Auction Flex you need to realize that you can bid whatever maximum price you choose. The on-line application is set up to allow you to buy the item for the minimum possible amount. As an example, if you bid $200 for an item on which someone else has bid only $25 the application will place a bid for you in an incremental amount over $25 (depending on the application, perhaps $30). You will then be the high bidder at $30. If someone comes along and submits a bid for $50, the application will raise your bid an incremental amount to perhaps $55... And you are still the high bidder. The application will continue to compete on your behalf against other bidders until your maximum bid is reached. In this example although you bid $200, you may very well buy the item at $55 (depending on what other bidders do).