All posts by Jane

Is this Babar the Elephant King coffee mug vintage? Determining if your object is “vintage” for your Etsy shop

In order to sell vintage items on Etsy, the item must be over 20 years old (as of 2016,  before 1997).

Babar MugIf the item you are listing is something you have owned for over 20 years, then it is easy….or perhaps the object is a pottery or ceramic that is signed by the artist and has a date on it, like this panda mug by artist Win Ng  made in 1984 (for Taylor & Ng).


Or maybe the object is a company with a long history, and  there is a record of when a particular factory stamp was used.

The company Arabia Finland is great at this, and it was easy to learn when this vintage casserole baker was made, based on the factory back stamp (it was made between 1964 to 1971).

P1310163 This Arabia Finland Casserole Baker is listed on my Etsy Shop (click on photo if you want to see the listing).

You can also click here or the image below  to link to the Arabia Finland official website (with images of their factory stamps starting in 1874!).

Back Stamp Info

But what about an item that has no date, like this Babar the Elephant King cup?


No date, but it did have the name “Nelvana Ross” on the bottom.


My initial search led me to this page from the Worthpoint website indicating one like it sold in 2013…

Babar Cup on Worth Point

And while it is nice to know that the cup is rare, I still did not know when it was made.

So the next step was to research “Nelvana Ross’, which led to finding  out about a lawsuit in 1990.

It turns out there was a dispute over product licensing, so perhaps the products did not go out in mass quantity, resulting in making these cups rare.

So, the answer is YES, this item is vintage, and I listed it on the my Etsy vintage shop (where it sold very quickly).

Babar cup listing

And while I do not know the exact date  when the mug was made, the newspaper articles about the lawsuit at least gave me an idea of the manufacturing date  (somewhere around  early 1990 or before) to confirm that yes indeed, it was vintage.

The first Babar book was by Jean de Brunhoff and was an immediate success after its release in 1931. After the death of Jean de Brunhoff in 1937, his son, Laurent de Brunhoff (who was also an illustrator and writer) continued on with the character and the series of Babar books.

Since then, I’ve listed another Babar cup and plate set on the shop, by La Lourioux France Berry Haute Porcelaine.


You can click on the Babar image above or below to view the listing on my Etsy shop.


I’ll add articles as I learn more about how to date pottery and other objects.

If you have tips or links to websites with good information, please comment and share 🙂 .

You can return to the home page here, to see the most recent blog post.

Grouping products with similar colors for Etsy shop pages

It was a busy holiday season for the Market Tales Vintage Shop on Etsy!

stats visits from open date to end 2015The stats definitely ticked up from opening date in June 29, 2015 to the holiday season, as you can see from the above graphic, with many more visitors to the shop in December.

I will post an article about my experience since opening my Etsy vintage shop soon…

In the meantime, I am having fun grouping the objects in the shop in a an attempt at making pages have a more united color scheme, when possible.

Despite the variety of items in the shop (now over 300) it’s amazing how the look and feel of each page is improved if you happen to have  similar colors represented when posting items.

For example, finding this vintage and collectible Vera Neumann  scarf with bold colors in orange, browns and yellows in a “Mod” style…

You can click on the photo to see the listing on Etsy

and finding this vintage Mikasa plate from the 1970’s (in the “Indian Feast – Half Moon” pattern) with the same color themes.

You can click on the photo to see the listing on Etsy

What a nice coincidence, and the objects matched my shop logo colors — well, at least for a week or so, until the items moved on to page 2!

It doesn’t have to be similar objects, only similar colors.

Here is how the shop looked with the Vera scarf and Mikasa plate, along with the numerous brown color items in the shop:

Color Themes Post

Sure it’s an on-line shop, but just as we humans enjoy browsing at brick and mortar stores with pleasing color themes when we walk into the shop, we can do something similar within our Etsy store’s shop pages.

With vintage shops, it is more of a challenge, especially with many random objects to sell…but perhaps photographing and listing products with similar color themes can be part of the thought process before listing the object.

Here is a page with green colors that I found pleasing…

Green Color Themes on PageYou can also consider saving an item that is up for a listing renewal when you have newer objects to post in the same color theme.

This does not mean that I don’t post an item that I’m excited about listing, since I can always group it with similar colors later with the “rearrange your shop” option within Etsy.

For example, using the “rearrange your shop” option,  I moved objects with red colors to the front, main shop page a few days ago to give the shop a little Valentines vibe.

Getting ready for Valentines Colors

After 6 months of having the shop — I am getting better at grouping  and minding the colors 🙂 …

Do you do something similar?  Comment with your shop name and link so we can see!

Or if you don’t think it is worth doing this, let me know, too…

And if you want to see my ever-changing Etsy Vintage Shop pages , click here.

Back to Market Tales Home Page.


To learn more about what the COLORS  convey in E-Commerce stores, check out this interesting article from the design magazine

Corelle brand bowls now sold at Target

The Corelle line of tempered glass dishware and glassware was introduced by Corning in 1970.  The Corelle brand (along with Corning Ware and Pyrex) is now owned by World Kitchen.

The earlier versions of the Corelle product line can be be purchased at many Etsy vintage stores.

As of today, there are 3,423 Corelle related items for sale on Etsy.

Corelle Listings

I spotted these Corelle bowl sets at the main aisles of our local Target store recently…


Seeing Corelle at Target made me curious if World Kitchen will also reintroduce the popular (past) designs in the Corelle line — as they did for the popular Corning Ware Blue Cornflower line.

The Spring Blossom design — also fondly known as Crazy Daisy — was among Corelle’s most popular product line.

The bowls sold at the Target store were plain white, and the World Kitchen website — as of today — offered what looked to be completely new, modern patterns.  However, a search tag of “Corelle” on the website listed 96 items — in white and in a number of new patterns.

The newer Corelle patterns are pretty.

It seems with the ease in getting new Corelle pieces, whether at Target or other retailers, or through the Target and World Kitchen websites, it is inevitable that pricing (and desirability) of Corelle vintage objects will be affected.

New designs are great for new generation Corelle fans, but perhaps not so good for sellers of vintage Corelle items.

Just something to be mindful of if you like and sell Corelle in your Vintage Shop, in case you find your Corelle inventory sitting in the shop  longer than you anticipated.

If you use Corelle products, do you own new  or vintage patterns?

And if you have an Etsy store, have you seen a change related to selling your vintage Corelle pieces?

Back to Market Tales Home Page, here.

Note:  If you want to know the  difference between Corelle, Corning and Pyrex,  read this article posted when I opened up my Etsy Vintage Shop.   

Etsy Store Shipping: Should you ship UPS Ground or U.S. Postal Service for a cube box under 8 pounds…and notes on Parcel Post

This is part of a series of post I’m writing about different shipping options once you make a sale on your Etsy Vintage Store.

My first shipping post compared rates for a shipment weighing 2 pounds or less and the options using U.S. Post Office Priority Mail and REGIONAL Priority Mail service.


For this post, I compare U.S. Postal Service (USPS) versus United Parcel Service’s (UPS) Ground option, for an order weighing under 8 pounds.


The items in this case is a set of 4, Mid-Century stoneware salad plates by Lauffer, heading from the West Coast to the East Coast (New York).

After I bubble-wrapped each plate, I placed cardboard in between each then again bubble wrapped (for extra protection!) the entire set.

The package of plates were then placed in a  box surrounded with additional recycled newsprint.

The box for this order measured 11″x11″x10″ — basically a cube shaped box.  The final package weighed 7.8 lbs.

If I ship this item via  USPS Priority Mail, the shipping cost would have been $27.25.

Under 8 lbs USPS Priority Mail

If I elected to ship this package using  USPS “Parcel Select”, the post office’s most economical option (which can take up to 9 days) the cost was $23.93.

To me, this was not a big enough difference to ship USPS Parcel Post, especially that I would have to buy insurance, and would not have a detailed tracking of the shipment.

Under 8 lbs USPS Parcel Post

Note:  I did ship a much larger, but LIGHTER object in the past, where the USPS / Post office Parcel Post option was the best rate.  More on this at the end of this post.

The next option to review was UPS Ground Service.

I already have a UPS account so this was easy enough to do, just by copying and pasting the address from the ETSY order to my  UPS “Create a Shipment” page.

 UPS weight is entered in whole numbers, so the weight rounds off to 8 lbs.

Under 8 lbs UPS Ground

The  UPS Ground rate was $16.64 — by far the most economical option.

Note: Rates depend on your service terms, and fluctuates depending on fuel surcharges, delivery to business address or residential (residential addresses are usually a few dollars more).

The UPS $16.64 rate comes with tracking and and an automatic $100 value for each box.  You can purchase insurance though UPS if your box value is over $100 e, e.g., for $300, $500 and even for thousands of dollars, if needed.

The bottom line?

Don’t rely on just one service option to mail out your orders.  Always have more than ONE option for shipping.

While the U.S. Post Office is typically the better option for small easy to ship objects (especially those that can fit within their flat rate Priority and Regional Priority Mail boxes), I’m finding that UPS rates can be more economical for heavier objects traveling long distances, if it does not fit in the USPS flat rate box options.

Whether UPS or FedEx Ground, just have an alternative outside of the U.S. Post Office.  It is easy to set up an account for either (or both) at or

The bottom line is to  save money for your customers — or yourself if you have a fixed shipping cost, when listing your items.

The last thing you want is for the shipping to cost more than the items you list…,unless of course, it is unavoidable.

And on the USPS “Parcel Post”:

To date, I’ve used the USPS Parcel Post service once.

it was an order for a traditional palm leaf and bamboo, Asian farmers  conical hat, that shipped to Georgia.


For this very light but BIG object, both the UPS rates and USPS Priority Mail rates were crazy expensive, because the hat took up so much volume.

In this instance, the best rate was the USPS Parcel Post – and I was thankful to have this service option!

However, I did not like the ambiguous delivery date window, which the post office notes at “2 to 9 days” and not much detail on the tracking information.  Plus, you do have to buy separate insurance, as unlike the USPS Priority Mail options, it does not include the $100 insurance.

The shipment did take the maximum 9 days to arrive to the customer.


I’ve visited an Etsy vintage store that noted they use ONLY USPS Parcel Post, which I found surprising, because it is not necessarily the best service.

Customers are happy to get their items FAST (and will usually report that in the review) and Parcel post can take the longest of the shipping choices.

UPDATED January, 2016

— I’ve used the Parcel Post a few more times, and it found the rates competitive for lightweight items.


A vintage gathering basket / magazine holder that shipped to an address over 2,500 miles from my location arrived in TWO DAYS!

I was impressed, and so was the customer.

So… it is possible to get items sooner than the experience I had with the Asian hat, but it is not guaranteed.

I will definitely look at this option more this year, as long as there is not an issue with transit time.

This week, also used this service to ship another basket style magazine holder.  This item took 5 days to ship over 2,700 miles  via Parcel Post — totally acceptable.


If you are an Etsy seller, what shipping service do you usually use, and what do you like best about the service?

Back to Market Tales Home Page

Related Market Tales Blog Posts:  1st post for the shipping series, Shipping for 2 lbs or less — Should you use the U.S. Postal System Priority Mail or “Regional” Priority Mail?

Crafting detailed listing titles, tags and descriptions to help your Etsy vintage item stand out from the crowd

It’s been four months since I opened my Etsy vintage shop, and I’m getting better at crafting titles, creating more specific listing “tags”, and writing descriptions for my items.

This post is about my efforts to make my Etsy vintage items stand out from the mass of products available from web-based stores.

Based on my experience, this article covers:

  • Why it’s important to use all 13 tags within the Etsy listing system
  • How a little research can help a seemingly generic item stand out from the others
  • How including  the size of an item in my listing title may have led to selling it
  • And an example of finding a niche in a product category with 74 pages of listings!

Listing Tags and Titles

Using tags — words or short phrases — to describe your item listing on Etsy helps potential buyers find your item by matching your tags with a shopper’s search term.

Etsy allows you to use 13 tags for each listing.  Each tag can contain up to 20 characters.

At first, 13 seemed like a lot of tags — do I really need to use all of the tags?

I’m finding that the answer is YES, I do!

The tags help potential buyers find a listing in my store among the hundreds — or sometimes thousands — of similar products for sale on Etsy, EBay and the myriad of on-line shops.

Example 1: The Asian Fan with Red-Crowned Cranes

If you are looking for a traditional folding Asian Fan, and type in “Asian Fan” in Ebay’s search box, you will get thousands of results.

In fact, as of today, November 6, 2015, there are 12,406 “Asian Fans” listed on EBay.  Yikes!

Asian Fan in EBay November 2015

It was less overwhelming on Etsy, with just hundreds of fans in the different categories.

Still, there were a total of 2,069 items listed for “Asian Fans”.

Etsy Asian Fan Listings

So when I listed this fancy, gold-painted, traditional, folding “Asian Fan” on my store, I thought it would take a very LONG time to sell…


The folding fan was an interesting vintage object, but what I really liked about it was the theme, and the painting of the two birds on the gold background.

I took a guess that these birds were a type of crane, since I knew a little about the importance of cranes in Asian cultures.

More specifically, they had a red crown… so I researched “Red-Crowned Cranes”, and learned more about these birds.

I decided to focus the listing on the birds, and used the words “Red-Crowned Cranes” in the title.  and included the string of words as one of my 13 tags for the listing.

Red Crown Crane Fan Listing

I also included a bit of what I learned, for the item’s description section.  Excerpt below…

Red Crown Crane item description

On Tuesday, the words “red crown crane” were among the search terms someone used to find their way to my vintage shop.

Here’s a screen shot of Page 3 of  the top keywords that day…

Red Crown Crane keywordsAnd yesterday…. despite this listing being less than a week old, the fan sold!

It was surprising to me because this item had zero views and zero favorites, prior to the sale.

Also, there was no search term that day for “Asian Fan” (or even Chinese or Japan fans, the other tags I also used for the listing.)

Perhaps someone was looking for something with a red-crown crane as a gift.  And though they may not have thought about an “Asian Fan”, the item became a gift option.

For this listing, I think the focus on the Red-Crowned Crane helped sell the fan.

Example 2: The Long Wood Box

If you type “Wood Box” within Etsy’s search box, here is what you will get (as of November 4, 2015):

Listings for Wood Box on Etsy Nov 2015

A whole lot of boxes —- 69,363 to be exact.

How on earth can you make your particular box stand out, like this wood box I listed among 69,363 wood boxes?


Well, it’s a wood box with a specific shape (LONG)  and size (over 11 inches long ), information which I included in the listing and the tags.

Long Wood Box Item Listing

And also on Tuesday,  guess what words — actually, NUMBERS — showed up on my top keyword terms?

2by11 box Top KeywordsThe box size, or at least close to it — 2×11.

This box also sold that same day!

So, despite the 69,363 wood boxes on the Etsy website, this buyer found this specific box, because of the size, and this size number included on the listing title, item details and item tags.

Finding a Niche:  The Wood Magazine Holder Example

Here is how the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “niche”:

Niche Definition

My last example for this post is a wood magazine holder, listed on my shop pages in August.


In August, when I typed “magazine rack” in Etsy’s search box  I got 3,097 results.

Being a fairly new seller, I didn’t even want to imagine where — or at what page (out of 74 pages!) my listing would surface.

Magazine Rack

Using a generic tag to include your item in a broad, general category is a start.  But even better is to use more specific language.

My item was a wood magazine rack.

If one types in “wood magazine rack, the results are less daunting.

Wood Magazine Rack

Now there are just 927 items, and only 23 pages of wood magazine racks.

Looking at my wood magazine rack, the wheel part reminded me of a Western wagon wheel, or a Western style decor.  I added the following words for the tags on this listing:

  • Western Decor
  • Western Style Rack
  • Wagon Wheel

And so now, if someone was looking for a “Western Magazine Rack” there is only 1 page of items, and only 13 results (as of August, 2015).  And Voila — there is my item!

Western style Magazine Holder

The wheel also reminded me of an old-fashioned ship or nautical type wheel, so I added the following terms to my listing tags:

  1. Wheel Decor
  2. Nautical themes

If someone was looking for a magazine rack with a specific wheel or nautical theme, they will have 1 page and 23 items to look through (again, as of August, 2015).

Nautical Magazine Rack

And now my listing is up on the top, in the first (and only) page, just as it was on the “Western Magazine Rack” search.

I barely have the patience to look through 5 pages of magazine racks….let alone, 74!  Being on the first few pages is definitely better.

So while this magazine holder has not yet sold, I feel pretty confident that it will find its way to a new owner, eventually 🙂 .

I’m still learning more about titles and tags…

What I do know is that using more detailed descriptions, and specific words or a string of words for your title and tags is a must, in addition to the generic terms for your listing (like magazine rack, or Asian fan).

When posting a new item, remember:

  • There are 13 tags to use — use ALL OF THEM.
  • Be creative, and think about what a potential customer may call the item or what they can do with it.  Can it be re-purposed into something else?
  • Be sure to use the listing title’s 140 characters to your advantage, and be as detailed as possible with your title.
  •   Include the size of your item — remember that the term “11×2” may be all it took for my long box to find its new owner.
  • Incorporate the words used in your title within your item details and description.  So far, I have not reached a character limit on my item detail description  — there is a lot of room for item details!
  • Have fun, do a bit of research on your objects and when possible, provide what you have learned to help the listing stand out from the masses.

I rarely put up a listing without using ALL of the characters allowed on the listing title. My “short” title means I use 138 characters and not 140.

Are you doing the same thing in terms of refining your tag words and using all the characters available for your listing title?

I hope this post was helpful.

— Jane

By the way, yesterday, the customer who bought the long box left a positive feedback — another 5 star review for the store!

Long Wood Box Review

The buyer of the Asian fan also left a 5-Star Review 🙂

Screenshot 2016-07-14 13.39.48



Market Tales Article – My first listings — and describing my Franciscan Pottery and Heath Ceramics items

Etsy image link How to Get FoundEtsy Article – How to Get Found in Search Getting found in search may seem daunting, but all it takes is a little know-how

Etsy Blog – Seller How To: Tag-o-rama With Descriptive Keywords

Back to Market Tales Home Page, here.

Better photos, quicker sale for the beautiful, handmade pine needle basket?

If you have visited my Etsy Vintage Shop, you may know that I love collecting and selling vintage baskets.

I have several pine needle baskets in my collection — gifts from my younger sister.  She purchased the baskets when she lived and worked in Central America in the early 2000s.

I treasure my pine baskets, and love the texture and the deep, rust colors of the pine needles.

My large, beehive-shaped pine needle basket – a gift from my sister.

I remember my delight when I received this big, beehive-shaped basket from my sister, and our conversation about  the work it took to make these, with the weaver first having to collect a whole lot of pine needles to make one basket.

The coiled bottom of my beehive shaped basket, with the weaver’s label.
We use our baskets around the house, and unfortunately, some of the thread around the pine needles for the handles (so expertly connected to the basket body) has started to unravel. I include in this post to show the pine needles within the thread coil.

So…since I was familiar with pine baskets, I was happy to find this beautiful, round, pine needle basket at a thrift shop last month.


I looked forward to listing it in the store, and admired the thick braid of pine needles incorporated into the design, and the wavy shape of the rim, giving the basket many “handles” all around the edges.

Almost 3 weeks after I listed the basket, I looked at the listing page again and realized the photos were lackluster, compared to the actual object.

P1310211I take most of my photos outside using natural lighting…so I wasn’t sure if my timing was off that day, or it was just a gray, cloudy day.

Perhaps my little camera was in a bad mood…

The photos were just blah, kind of dull, and did not reflect the beauty of this item, and its rich, natural colors.

I decided to retake the photos, and updated the listing.

This time, the photos had better colors, more true to the basket.

P1320734I replaced the photos with a brighter set, and a couple of days later, the basket sold.


Was it a coincidence?

I don’t know for sure, but I do think  that the new photos better showcased the basket’s natural beauty and craftsmanship, and perhaps the improved pictures helped the buyer make the decision to acquire the basket for their own collection.

Lessons learned:

  • It’s a good idea to review your listings periodically to see if improvements can be made…not just for the photo, but the description as well.
  • If you think the photos do not truly reflect the beauty of your item — or show off its best features — then do not hesitate to retake it, and replace your listing photos.

It just may be the improvement needed to help sell the object, and for it to find its way to a new owner/collector.  🙂

P1320728Have you had a similar experience with photographs for your listing?

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Heath Ceramics receives National Design Award from Cooper Hewitt – Smithsonian Design Museum

California-based Heath Ceramics, well known to many Etsy vintage sellers and mid-century design fans, received the 2015 National Design Award from the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum.

Heath Ceramics Award NPR Story
Photo by Mandalit del Barco via NPR.Org

The award category is the Corporate and Institutional Achievement for Product Design, Industrial Design, Crafts.

From the Cooper Hewitt Museum about the National Design Awards…

The National Design Awards celebrate design as a vital humanistic tool in shaping the world, and seek to increase awareness of design by educating the public and promoting excellence, innovation, and lasting achievement in American design.

Read more about Heath Ceramics and the National Design Award on this National Public Radio Report (NPR) here.

Heath’s Sea and Sand glaze, coupe shape dinner plates. You can click on the image to view the listing in my Etsy store.

You can also listen to the radio broadcast by art desk correspondent Mandalit del Barco (featured on the program All Things Considered on 10/15/2015) here.

More about the Cooper Hewitt Museum, founded in 1897 by the granddaughters of industrialist Peter Cooper…

Cooper Hewitt Museum About

Heath Ceramics items were among my first listings when I opened up my Etsy Vintage Store this summer, and represented my 6th, 8th, 9th and 10th sale, right after the sale of vintage Dansk, Fiesta Ware and Pyrex items.


A Heath ceramics collector who bought my Heath items left the third (and 5-star) feedback for the items and store — after taking a chance buying from a store with (then) ZERO reviews.


I love vintage Heath objects, and can’t wait to find more to list on the store, that is, if I can resist the urge to KEEP them!

Heath teacup in the coupe line listed in my Etsy store. Click on photo to view listing.

For more details about vintage items listed on this blog and website, please visit my shop Market Tales Vintage on Etsy.

Thank you!

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