When you encounter entire collections selling in offline auction salerooms or at boot sales and flea markets look for signs the collection has been “picked over” and now represents mainly low value collectibles you may have trouble selling on eBay.

Spotting Picked Over Ephemera

Now, for items like stamps and matchbox labels, for example, and most other paper collectibles, called “ephemera”, it’s often very easy to spot a picked-over collection.

As an example, you can spot a stamp or matchbox label album has been picked over by the prevalence of beige and brownish marks left by sticky hinges that affix stamps and matchbox labels to the album page.

Too many brownish stains, usually oblong shaped, measuring about half an inch square, sometimes hinges still in place on the page, usually mean better items have been removed from the album and what’s left is not going to make money for you.

At the top of the next column is a good example of a page from an album that’s been heavily picked over and now contains rather common matchbox labels which you’d be wise to avoid buying.

Note: Having suggested you overlook albums with pages like this one at auction, the exception is where the album is going for such a low price that you can make a profit by selling the individual pages for a minimum of £2 on eBay (perhaps even more).

Like the album from which the above page came which cost me £10 at a boot sale and fetched more than £100 when the individual pages were listed separately and by country of origin on eBay.

Aim to pay no more than 10p a page for albums that are heavily picked over and expect sometimes to find entries that are worth a good sum on eBay and were overlooked by the person who depleted the contents.