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Of the 63392 lamps on eBay that we tracked, 62% sold
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Searching the Bidstracker.com Database
Bidstracker.com operates on the assumption that the user has a specific lamp in mind for which he or she wants market information and that he or she knows the book and figure number for that lamp. At the current time, the database can only be searched by book and figure number. Additional search capabilities may be added later based on input from Bidstracker.com users. A number of interesting facts about the database and the lamps in it are also shown on the Bidstracker.com home page.

To find information for a specific item on Bidstracker.com:

A. Go to the Search page.
B. Select the correct reference book from the pull-down list.
C. Select the correct figure number from the pull-down list.
D. Click on "Go"

Note that you can search for just those lamps offered on eBay, just those offered at various live auctions or both. Use the check boxes below the search boxes to make this choice.

Tips on Searching

  • The great majority of all Bidstracker.com entries can be found by searching in the correct book (H, H2, S1, S2 or So) for the figure number of that item as shown in the book.
  • Figure numbers in the reference books are generally Arabic numerals. These Arabic numbered figures are always shown in Bidstracker.com as 3-digit numbers (e.g., Figure 76 is shown in the pull down list as 076).
  • Some of the figures in S1 and S2 (usually the color plates) are labeled with Roman numerals. These latter entries will be found at the end of the pull down list for each book.
  • A few figures in books S1 and S2 include pictures of several lamps. Reading from left to right and top to bottom, Bidstracker.com generally labels these as the figure number followed by a "." and then a sequential number. For example, the leftmost lamp in shown in Figure 5 in book S1 is shown in the pull down list as "005.1" The right-hand lamp in this same figure is shown as "005.2". Using the pull down lists, you'll be readily able to distinguish and find the few lamps numbered this way.
  • In the Hulsebus books (H and H2), there are a number of lamps (especially the reproductions shown on pages 8 and 9 of the first Hulsebus book) which do not have figure numbers. These lamps are shown in the pull-down list as, for example, "H-p9.11". This refers to the Hulsebus book, page 9, the 11th lamp shown on the page. Using the pull-down lists, you'll be able to find these listings. Items with "p" numbers will be at the end of the pull down list for the H and H2 books. Lamps 11, 12 and 13 on page 9 of the Hulsebus book are identical except for their color. These are all listed as H-p9.11. Similarly lamps 8, 9 and 10 are all listed as H-p9.08.
  • Sometimes, different lamps shown in different figures in the books have the same base (e.g., S1-190 and 191, S1-255 and 257) or the same shade. When searching for just a base or a shade which appears in more than one figure in the books, it's a good idea to look at listings for all occurrences of that particular item. Bidstracker.com lists these items just under one Figure number and does not list them multiple times.
  • Figure numbers not shown in the pull-down lists have no data in Bidstracker.com. These items simply have not been seen by us in our searches on eBay and thus have no entries in the database.
  • To avoid having to scroll down a very long list of figure numbers, type in the first digit of the figure number. This will move you down the list closer to the entry you are looking for.

Using and Interpreting the Bidstracker.com results pages

Once you have selected a book and figure number from the pull down lists and clicked on "Go", you will get a summary page for that lamp. The summary page first shows the book and figure number of the lamp you searched for and the common name of the lamp (if any) used by most collectors. If available in Bidstracker.com, one or more pictures of the lamp may be shown. Bidstracker.com does not have pictures of all of the lamps, but is continuing to add pictures as they become available. The next section shows the "Auction Summary".

The "Auction Summary" shows five pieces of data related to the specific item searched for. These are:

  • # Offered: This is the number of times a lamp, regardless of condition or variation (see below) matching this figure number appears in the database. Note that on eBay, lamps which do not sell are often re-listed a second (or third or fourth) time. Re-listed lamps are shown as separate entries and will increase the count of "# Offered". The # Offered field is a gross measure of how common or uncommon an item is.
  • # Sold: This is the number of times a lamp, regardless of condition or variation, has actually been sold. Obviously, this number will be equal to or less than the " # Offered". There are two reasons lamps on eBay do not sell. First there may have been no bids on them at all. Second, while there may have been bids, the lamps had a reserve (a minimum price below which the seller was not willing to sell the lamp) on them and that reserve price was not met.
  • % Sold: Simply, the number sold divided by the number offered. This percentage is particularly useful when compared to the overall percentage of lamps offered on eBay which actually sold. That average figure for all lamps is 65%. A given lamp whose sale percentage is less than 65 may be considered to be harder to sell than average while a lamp whose percentage is higher than 65 is easier to sell. We tend to think of this percentage as a rough measure of a particular lamps "desirability".
  • Minimum High Bid: Across all lamps of this figure number, this is the lowest value which was the high bid. Because of reserves which were not met, this is not necessarily the lowest value for which this item sold although, for simplicity, it may be thought of as that.
  • Average High Bid: This is the numerical average of all high bids for lamps matching this figure number. Lamps which received no bids at all are not included in this calculation. Lamps which had a high bid but did not sell because the reserve was not met are included in this calculation. Our logic is that the reserve is an arbitrary figure set by the seller. The high bid whether the reserve is met or not is still a measure of willingness to pay for this item in the market. (Note that because the numerical average may unfairly reflect very high or very low values, especially when only a small number of items are involved, Bidstracker..com now also reports the Modal and Median values-see below for a discussion of these two measures).
  • Maximum High Bid: This is the highest amount bid for a lamp matching the book and figure number. Again, the lamp receiving this maximum bid may not have actually sold if a reserve was set and not met. Nonetheless, this is the highest that someone was willing to pay for this item.
  • Mode: The mode is a statistical measure intended to convey the same information as the average but without some of the distortions which can affect average values. The mode is simply the single most common value for which a lamp has sold. To calculate the mode we group the high bid amounts into $10 ranges (e.g., $50-$59.99) and report the range. Where there is no single range which is the most common (i.e., there is more than one mode), we leave the mode value blank. Most commonly, the average high bid value will fall in or very close to the range that is quoted as the mode. It's only when the mode is significantly different from the average that the mode becomes useful as a measure.
  • Median: The median is another measure of "central tendency" used by statisticians. It, too, like the mode, is intended to eliminate the distortion inherent in averages when there are a few extremely high or low values. The median is simply the point at which 50% of the lamps had lower and 50% had higher high bids. So, half the lamps of a given type sold for less than the mode and half sold for more. Again, most frequently, the median will be very close to the average and the mode. As with the mode, it's when it differs significantly that it is the most useful. When the 3 values are different, you need to use your own judgment as to which value is the most representative.

The "Auction Summary" thus establishes the frequency with which an item is seen on eBay, the number of times it actually sells, the range of offered prices and the average of offered prices.

The next section of the summary page is the "Summary by Variation". Two important concepts need to be introduced here.

The first of these is the issue of "Variation". Many of the lamps in the lamp books were made in a variety of colors or types of glass. Information about these variations is often found in the text descriptions of the lamps in the books or in the separately published "Price Guide for Miniature Lamps" by Marjorie Hulsebus published in 1998 by Schiffer Books and again in 2006. For example, the "Cosmos" lamp (S1-286) was produced in clear or frosted glass, in white milk glass with a variety of decorative color schemes and in pink or yellow glossy cased glass. In the price guide, the clear and frosted glass versions are considered to have equal value, the white milk glass version has a different value and the pink and yellow glossy cased glass versions have a value equal to each other, but different than either the clear/frosted or white milk glass versions. In Bidstracker.com, we actually track 9 variations of this lamp-we separately track the clear, frosted and painted glass versions as well as the pink and yellow cased glass versions; in addition we also track several translucent colored glass versions which are not listed at all in the price guide. An increasing number of antique lamps today have been or are still being reproduced. Although the books do not always show these reproductions, where reproductions of a given lamp are known, we add a variation to the list for these reproductions. The "Summary by Variation" section of the summary page lists all variations of a given lamp which are tracked and provides a brief description of that variation.

The second important concept is "Condition". The published price guides, or book values are usually for items considered to be in mint condition. But items generally found in the market often are in other than mint condition. We have struggled over the 4 years (to date) of Bidstracker operation as to how to best reflect the condition of the lamps offered on eBay and at the live auctions for which we have data. After experimenting with a number of different schemes for reflecting a lamp's condition, we have settled on the following classifications:

  • Complete: The lamp has all of the parts as shown in the appropriate book and is in good to excellent condition with no significant defects. Minor defects or deviations are noted in the "Condition" column on the details page. Note that missing (or damaged) clear glass chimneys do not affect a lamp's rating as being "Complete" since plain glass chimneys are usually easy to replace and it is almost impossible to tell if an included chimney is original or not.
  • Complete-Damaged:: The item is still complete as shown in the books, but has one or more significant defects (e.g., the shade is chipped or cracked).
  • Bases: These are lamps which originally had a base and a matching shade or globe but the shade or globe is now missing. They may be just the base without any collar or other hardware, the base and collar or the base with other relevant pieces (burner, shade ring or tripod). The specific parts that are present (or occasionally those that are missing) are listed in the "Condition" column of the details page.
  • Shades: Most commonly this is only the shade for a given lamp usually without any other parts although occasionally these are found with a burner or a shade ring or tripod. If the item includes anything in addition to the shade, this is noted in the "Condition" column on the details page.
  • Incomplete-Other: This is a lamp which is missing some part other than the shade or the base. The missing part may be a burner or a shade ring/tripod, or in the case of some lamps, some other miscellaneous part (e.g., on the Nutmeg, S1-029, the brass band which forms a finger handle). The missing part is usually noted in the "Condition" column of the details page.

In the "Summary by Variation" section of the summary page, separate lines are shown for each variation of the figure number tracked in Bidstracker.com grouped by condition as described above. The data in the "Summary by Variation" section is:

  • Variation: The number of the variation being tracked. For lamps that have only 1 version, the variation number is "0". For lamps with multiple versions, variation numbers start at 1 and continue as needed.
  • Description: A generic description of the variation. It may include several options or choices (e.g., the description of Variation 2 of S1-400 is "Green or pink satin".)
  • Condition: A number from 5 to 1 as described above.
  • # Offered: As above in the Auction Summary section.
  • # Sold: As above in the Auction Summary section.
  • Minimum High Bid: As above in the Auction Summary section.
  • Average High Bid: As above in the Auction Summary section.
  • Maximum High Bid: As above in the Auction Summary section.
  • Mode: As above in the Auction Summary section.
  • Median: As above in the Auction Summary section.
  • Average % of Book Value: This field takes the Average High Bid value for this lamp/variation/condition and calculates what % this is of the book value as stated in the most current price guide available. (Since the publication of the 2006 edition of the Price Guide, many of these values are out-of-date. Over time, we intend to update the database with the values from that edition of the Price Guide. The intent here is to provide a yardstick against which to look at the market value of the item under consideration.

Detail Page

Users may click in the description field of the "Summary by Variation" listing to see the details of all offerings of items of a given variation within a given condition.

The first item on the detail page is the book and figure number of the item, the variation number and the condition number of all of the lamps shown on that page. Then the lamp's name, if any, is shown along with a general description of the variation. This is followed by the detailed listings for every lamp of that type, variation and condition. The fields in the Detail Listing are:

  • Source: Lists where the item was offered for sale (eBay, ELA = eBay Live Auction, NLA = Night Light Club Auction, NLN = sale reported in Night Light Club newsletter, or the name of the Auctioneer such as Roan or Brown Brothers).
  • Description: A text description of the item if different from what is described in the Variation description or a clarification of the Variation description (for example, Variation could be "Green or pink satin", this description would identify whether the item is actually green or pink). Sometimes a lamp found at auction does not exactly match the predefined variations and if that is the case, this field provides information to distinguish this item from other similar items.
  • Condition: A text description of the characteristics which caused the item to be given a specific condition rating.
  • Date of Sale: The date the item sold or was auctioned.
  • Starting Bid: The initial bid on eBay or on an eBay live auction. Not applicable for non-eBay auctions or for data reported from other sources. In many cases, the starting bid explains why an item didn't receive any bids at all. We believe this to be the case when the starting bid for an item is much higher than either the book value of the item or the amounts usually bid for that item.
  • Reserve: Yes/No field. Whether or not an item on eBay had a reserve. Not applicable for non-eBay items.
  • Number of Bids: The number of bids for this item as reported by eBay. May be a crude measure of the amount of interest generated by this item. Not applicable for non-eBay items.
  • High Bid: The highest amount bid for the item. All bid values whether or not the item actually sold enter into the average high bid calculation. Blank entries (for items that received no bids) do not enter into the average calculation.
  • Sold: Yes or No. Items may not have sold because they had no bids on them or because the reserve was not met.