About bidstracker.com
Why we developed Bidstracker.com
As collectors of miniature oil lamps we have a natural interest in the market value of lamps we own, lamps we are considering buying and lamps we might want to sell or trade. Like many collectors and dealers, we rely heavily on standard references and associated price guides. We have found and continue to find these reference resources invaluable.

But, as we became more experienced as collectors and as we began to buy more and more items for our collection on eBay, we began to notice sometimes rather significant differences between the published "book value" and the actual high bid price on eBay or at live auctions.

While the published price guides have much to recommend them, are valuable resources and should be considered authoritative, they do have some drawbacks. First, they are static and cannot reflect changes that occur in a dynamic marketplace. Second, they present the estimated value for a specimen in prime condition which may not be the condition of a specimen found in the real world. Finally, as excellent as the price guides are, and as expert as are the opinions that result in the book values, there is always the chance that the book values do not represent the realities of the market.

eBay represents, perhaps, the largest single market for antiques (and many other items, collectable and not) in the world. And it is a continuing, ongoing market. For that reason, we felt it would be useful to track the bidding for known, identifiable antiques on a continuing basis, on eBay (and at selected live auctions) and to make the resulting data available to dealers and collectors.

We do not expect the data tracked and presented on Bidstracker.com to replace or supplant the published price guides. We do expect this data to be useful as an adjunct and update to the price guides.

We welcome your views and comments on Bidstracker.com. We invite you to send your comments to us at info@bidstracker.com

How Bidstracker.com can be used

We believe the data in Bidstracker.com will be useful to both buyers and sellers of antiques. Here are some examples of how we think Bidstracker.com will be useful.

  • Buyers: See an item on eBay you are thinking of bidding on? Check Bidstracker.com. How often does an item like this come up for auction? If it's a fairly common item, you'll have multiple chances to bid again if you don't win the bidding this time. If it's an uncommon item that you're not likely to see again for a while, and you really want it, you may want to be more aggressive in your bidding. How much should you bid for this item? Bidstracker.com's low and high winning bid range and average bid calculations can tell you generally what to expect when bidding on this item.
  • Sellers: Planning on selling an item on eBay? Use Bidstracker.com to see how well (or how poorly) similar items have done on eBay. If similar items regularly sell on eBay well below book value, or more importantly, below what you paid for the item, perhaps eBay is not the best place to sell this item. If your item regularly sells for more than what you paid for it, eBay may be a great place to sell it. What should you set your starting bid or your reserve at? Use the Bidstracker data to help you decide. We see many items on eBay that don't get any bids because the starting bid (or the reserve) is well above the highest values that have been bid for similar items in the past.
  • Buyers and Sellers: Use Bidstracker.com as a reality check against book values and to assess the current market. Help assess the market value of items you have or are contemplating buying.

What's included in Bidstracker.com

Every day we search eBay listings looking for miniature oil lamps which are listed in one of the reference books mentioned above. (In the first 4 years of operation, we've recorded results on the sale of over 24,000 miniature lamps). If we can match the lamp to a figure or picture in one of the reference books, we generally include it in the Bidstracker.com database. Because of the number of lamps and variations thereof and because sometimes the pictures on eBay are not of the best quality, we cannot guarantee that we correctly identify all of the lamps listed in Bidstracker.com. However, we are confident that the overwhelming majority of the lamps in Bidstracker.com are correctly identified. While we try to be comprehensive and complete in finding lamps being offered on eBay, we know we miss some for a variety of reasons (unable to correctly identify an item, simply just missed it in our search or sometimes we intentionally skip items that are extremely common, in extremely poor condition or of low value and interest to antique collectors). We believe, however, that we find and list somewhere between 90% and 95% of all "authentic" (i.e. found in one of the 5 reference books) miniature oil lamps offered for sale on eBay.

Bidstracker.com Reference Books

Bidstracker.com only tracks the bidding on antiques which can be identified and found in standard reference books. For miniature antique oil lamps, we use 5 reference books widely known among lamp collectors. These are:

  • Miniature Lamps, Frank R. Smith and Ruth E. Smith, originally published in 1968 by Thomas Nelson & Sons and reissued more recently by Schiffer Books (from whom it is still available). Known as "Smith Book 1" (and referred to in Bidstracker.com as "S1"), this is the fundamental reference books on miniature lamps. The great majority of the lamps tracked on Bidstracker.com can be found in this book.
  • Miniature Lamps II, Ruth E. Smith, originally published in 1982 and revised and expanded in 2000 by Schiffer Books (from whom it is still available; it can also be obtained at Amazon.com). Known as "Smith Book 2" (and referred to in Bidstracker.com as "S2", this book contains a large number of less common lamps than in S1 as well as several very common lamps which were not included in S1.
  • Miniature Victorian Lamps, Marjorie Hulsebus, Schiffer Books, 1996. This book, referred to in Bidstracker.com as "H", contains over 440 more unusual lamps, all presented in full color.
  • Those Fascinating Little Lamps, John F. Solverson, published in 1988 by Antique Publications. Most of the lamps included in this book are also in one of the two Smith books. However, there are a few unlisted lamps included in Solverson's book (referred to in Bidstracker.com as "So") which are tracked by the Solverson figure number in Bidstracker.com.
  • Miniature Lamps of the Victorian Era, Marjorie Hulsebus, Schiffer Books, 2004. This is the newest of the books documenting miniature lamps and contains color photographs of over 585 previously undocumented lamps. It's listed in the database as "H2".

For the convenience of Bidstracker users, we have provided direct links to vendors who have these books (even those that are out of print) for sale. Just click on the "Books" link at the top right of the Bidstracker pages to view a list of books with a brief description of each and a link to a recommended seller.

While there are a number of other excellent references on antique lamps in general (for example, the 3 books by Catherine Thuro-Oil Lamps, Oil Lamps II and Oil Lamps III) and on miniature lamps specifically (for example, Ann Gilbert McDonald's 1979 "Evolution of the Night Lamp" and Mrs. Edward J. Delmore's 1969 "Victorian Miniature Oil Lamps", Bidstracker.com currently tracks only lamps shown in the above 5 books. These, and a number of other books of potential interest to lamp collectors are also listed on the "Books" pages and can be purchased through Bidstracker.

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Did You Know?
Of the 63392 lamps on eBay that we tracked, 62% sold