Back in November I wrote a post about the fantastic bargains that you can pick up from second hand shops. Whether you’re killing some time by having a look through your local charity shops or up bright and early on a Sunday morning determined to grab some gems at a car boot sale, there is always a thrill to be had when you come across something great at an even greater price!
In that post I also said that I would fill you in on an item that I had recently bought from my local charity shop for just £3 that turned out to be something worth a great deal more. So this is the follow up. 🙂
Spotting a Bargain Vintage Fabric
I had decided to head out a bit early to pick up my youngest from nursery so that I could have a look through the charity shops. My mother-in-law has always told me that you pick up the bargains if you go in regularly. I suppose that this is true because if there is something great in, you have to be there pretty quick to find it. So anyway I was having a look through the crafts section (I love this section because it can make a hobby like sewing so much cheaper, you can find all sorts of accessories and bits and bobs) when some fabric caught my eye. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do with it, I had been thinking of making some blinds for my bedroom and I could see that there was more than enough in this piece to cover it, so I bought it. I just decided that if my husband wasn’t keen on the design then I would easily make my money back by selling it on eBay*.
When I got home and laid it out I noticed that it had the designer, design name and factory name written along the two sides, indicating that it was full width even though it seemed narrower than I would have expected, and the design looked like it belonged in an art gallery rather than on a textile. When I showed my husband he instantly didn’t like it – Not for our bedroom anyway – so I packed it away under our bed till I could get round to putting it on eBay.
The Benefits of Doing a Little Research
As it usually goes in our house, it wasn’t until a couple of months later that I remembered about the fabric under the bed and decided it was time to sell it. I typed the information that I had about the fabric into eBay to see if I could find out the value. A few things came up under the name ‘John Piper’ but they were just small portions of other designs that he had done. There wasn’t anything for the design ‘Cotswold’ and nothing for us to compare the 5 1/4 metre length that we had with. My husband told me to search on Google to see if we would have more luck there, but there wasn’t any history of this fabric being sold on the internet. So I thought that it would be a good idea to know more about John Piper himself.
It turns out that John Piper was an artist from Epsom, Surrey, born in 1903 who had trained at the Royal College of Art in London. He went on to become an official war artist in World War 2 between the years 1940-1942. He also worked with stained glass and designed windows for cathedrals. He also designed many of the premier productions for Benjamin Britten’s operas at places such as the Royal Opera House and Glyndebourne Festival Opera.
I must admit that after learning more about him I was getting a little bit excited! My husband wouldn’t give up on not knowing the value so he emailed a few people that were either experts in vintage textiles or had sold John Piper fabrics previously on eBay*. A few people got back to us and apparently we had come across something quite rare. There wasn’t much of the Cotswold design around and any pieces that did come up for sale were a fraction of the size that we had and most of them were half width. As you can imagine I was trying to control my excitement with each new piece of information that we found.
Selling the Fabric
We decided against putting the fabric up for auction because it can sometimes be a bit of a hit and miss with what you will get for it, it just depends on who has found your item within the time scale of your auction. After finding out that it was worth a lot more than we originally thought – I was thinking around £60 – we happily sold it privately to a post war textile collector. He was very eager to add this piece to his collection and after a little negotiation he offered us a very generous £800. Seriously! I am not kidding! I’m still not sure if we could have got more if we’d have contacted a few more people but I didn’t want to scupper the sale by being greedy, so we sold it.
So there we have it. One look in a charity shop at the right time and we ended up with an astonishing £797 in profit – we did have some hefty eBay fees to pay though. To be honest I still can’t believe it, and yes I am scouring the second hand shops more often than before after this find. Not that it is likely to happen again, but you never know. 🙂
How about you, what bargains and profits have you found by shopping second hand?