History Hoydens


Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

30 March 2008

Antiquities on eBay

Surfing the net late one night, I went to eBay to see if I could find medieval horse relics and Roman rings for sale. Sure enough, I could. I found tons of those little horse medallions knights used to decorate their horse’s tack and hundreds of Roman rings (see to the right). Most of the plentiful doo-das were selling in price ranges that were within my reach. I sent my DH a note and told him this is what I want for my next birthday present.

When it comes to research, there is no substitute for owning a piece of history from the era you love. I am especially intrigued by the personal things that once belonged to someone who walked the earth centuries ago—Roman toga clasps (there are lots of them on eBay) and ancient jewelry. Combs. Shoes.

Granted, the authenticity of antiquities sold on eBay (or anywhere) is always suspect. You really need to do your research and deal with reputable dealers before you make a purchase. Here’s a website that offers great tips on buying antiquities online:


Check it out. The author knows the business. So does my father, who deals in old gold coins. He trades on eBay constantly and has had an overall good experience with the system.

I love looking at this “museum” online, with pieces I could actually own. I know some of the Hoydens have vast collections of clothes and books and other things that date back a hundred years or more. I must admit, the old things I love most, like paintings and photographs were passed down to me from my grandmother. I haven't actually made a purchase off of eBay--yet.

Readers and writers, anyone care to share info on your favorite acquisitions (and source)?

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Blogger Mary Blayney said...

Fun subject, Kathrynn

A really long time ago, Arena Stage in DC once auctioned off costumes and props from various productions and we came away with any number of fascinating items -- among them: a laurel wreath, an old Schwinn Bicycle and faux bit of Victorian jewelry.

We also found literally hundreds of Japanese glass fishing floats in Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Still have about forty. All of them free for the collecting.

One book I am still looking for -- the memoir by Major General Lord Blayney detailing his years as a POW during the Peninsular Wars. Someday I am sure I will find it somewhere.

I have never actually bid on E-Bay or on any other online auction. Maybe I'll learn something from the rest of you.

1:25 PM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

What a great post, Kathrynn! I too love being able to touch, look at, wear bits of research. I love old jewelry, and I'll shop at antique stores or estate jewelry stores (I haven't gone on ebay--I feel better when I can examine items in person). Most of what I have a is a lot newer than the Regency, but I do have a a freshwater pearl necklace (which I bought in Hawaii) that incorporate an 18th century mother-of-pearl gaming counter (the kind we read about spread on the green baize cloths of gaming tables). And I recently bought a silver pendant (at Disneyland :-), that's taken from a 19th century wax seal. It has a griffin, which is cool, because Charles's family crest in my books is a griffin & dragon.

2:49 PM  
Blogger Kathrynn Dennis said...

Mary, is General George Blayney a relative? How cool. And even if he isn't I can see what you want that book. ;-)

I really, really hope you find it!

9:23 PM  
Blogger Kathrynn Dennis said...

Hi Tracy--I just bought an art deco, tennis racket tie pin at an estate sale. I don't play tennis, and my DH rarely wears a tie, but it was so elegant and vintage cool. I couldn't resist.

Some of the oldest things I recently found?...ceramic beer bottle stoppers we found under our old house--the caps were stamped brewed in 1888, made in San Francisco.

They are in perfect condition. I don't know why I keep them.

I have a medicine bottle (also from under the house) stamped 1878and it still has the paper lable on it: Doc Steward's Curative Elixer-cures chillbains, constipation, fever, melancholy, dropsy, gout and just about anything else.

Unfortunately, there was no stopper and the bottle was empty. ;-)

9:33 PM  
Blogger Evangeline Holland said...

Old guidebooks. Not only do they aid my research, but I love the ones I have purchased which have names, dates, and itineraries scribbled in them. I even have multiple copies of the same books because I just had to purchase a lot the ebay seller said was full of clippings and letters wedged between the pages. Just reading the brittle, brown clippings and even the letter (expression Easter wishes and thanks for Eastern gifts) makes my time period, and the people who lived through it, feel more tangible and real to me.

1:39 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth Kerri Mahon said...

I have a copy of Scribner's Magazine from 1895 that I bought from a magazine dealer that carries alot of old period magazines. Its fascinating to see what magazines were like back then and what kinds of articles were being written. I can just imagine my heroine in the college library reading the latest periodicals.

6:07 AM  

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