Dress Sword

Are you wondering how to sell (or buy) a decorative sword online?

You're not alone. In the mid 80's I was attending an auction and placed on one of the tables were four (4) swords next to an old dusty lamp shade. Each one was about a yard long and, at the time, I thought what the heck I might as well bid on them. Next thing I know, I am shelling out $85 in cash and lugging all four swords out to my car. This was clearly an impulse purchase and I had a grand vision that one day I would tactfully displayed them above a fireplace mantel in a lovely house. Two years later, my dreams had come true. I was married, we bought a house in the country, and nature promptly provided us three healthy children. Some time had passed and in the late 90's I was cleaning (code word for wife asking me to find something in the basement) and found the four swords on a shelf covered in dust. With three young children, I decided that my earlier vision of hanging swords on a wall didn't make much sense. I promptly wrapped them in a blanket and tossed them in a storage area.

Civil War Sword

Selling Them on eBay

Fast forward in time to 2008. One of the girls needed a new bicycle and I decided to sell the swords that had collecting dust in our basement for the past 20 years. Since I did not have the slightest clue what I had purchased, I went to Google and typed in the keyword "swords". Wow, about 100,000 sites flashed onto the page. I plugged through about 40 of them on a Saturday morning and identified the swords as 1) a Civil War dress sword, 2) a similar Civil War sword but in poor condition, 3) a 1902 Army dress sword, and 4) a Knights of Columbus sword. I listed them on eBay after reading the eBay rules on selling weapons about 30 different times. I wanted to ensure I was within their guidelines. Yes, potentially lethal, but apparently not considered a weapon by the folks at eBay.

When the auctions were done, I was amazed. The two Civil War swords apparently were authentic and fetched $165 and $95. The 1902 Army sword fetched $125. The KOC sword was an unique one (unbeknownst to me) as it had an eagle pommel on the handle and received a final bid of $135. In total my impulse purchase of 20 years earlier for $85 had just dropped $520 into my PayPal account. Upon telling my wife of our newfound "wealth", she promptly bought all three girls new bikes. Dad was the hero of the day receiving 3 big hugs from his girls and Mom was glad to have the swords out of the house.

Sword Handle

Tips and Recommendations

In the process of selling these swords on eBay, I learned several valuable tips to ensure a smooth sales transaction. They are as follows:

Tip #1 (research) The investment in time I spent researching online with Google allowed me to describe the items with clarity on eBay. Instead of listing them simply as "Old Swords for Sale", I was able to describe many of their attributes such as the city they were manufactured, the name of the manufacturer, and the likely year they were manufactured. Any markings on the swords, I outlined in details. Please keep in mind that when I purchased these swords, my ability to research them in the mid 80's was limited as the internet did not exist as we know it today and there wasn't a shelf at the local library full of books on this specific topic. This was not an informed decision by any means. This was a "hey what the heck" foolish idea on a sunny Saturday afternoon in mid 80's.

Tip #2 (description) Starting with your title in eBay, take the time to clearly describe what you are selling and list any and all markings in your description. While you might not know or be able to identify these markings, a collector will clearly appreciate what they represent. The bidders will know far more than you about a niche item, so any details you can provide, will increase their final bid price.

Tip #3 (photos) 4-5 photos from different angles is a must. Start with a big picture photo of the sword and scabbard crossed – a standard pose. Then take a close up of the handle, another photo of the blade, and another photo of the tip of the sword. Be sure to photograph up close any markings or etchings. A potential buyer will appreciate the detailed photos and this will allow them to bid with confidence. A confident buyer will place higher bids when they are well informed.

Tip #4 (email) Following the auction close, email the winning bidder with a note congratulating them and letting them know you will handle their merchandise with care. They will appreciate your gesture and will promptly pay you. At that time also let them know your method of shipment and provide them a tracking number. These are not an item they would want left at their doorstep.

Tip #5 – (shipping) Use FedEx as they have this pre-made prism looking box which is 38 inches long and the design is such that you can't bend it. Their engineers were quite talented when designing this package. I can only guess they were thinking of me! Wrap bubble wrap around the sword and ensure it is snug inside the box and not bouncing around. The sound of something rattling inside a box will instinctively make a buyer nervous when they receive it and can cause scratches on the item while in transit.

Tip #6 – (follow up) Check the Tracking Confirmation online and once the package has been delivered, email your buyer with a note saying you notice the item has been delivered and hope they enjoy their purchase. All four of my buyers wrote Positive feedback, raved about my attention to detail, and the service I provided. I also thanked them for their prompt payment and wished them the best.


I hope these suggestions help you to safely and effectively sell your collectibles on eBay. Please leave comments for future readers and feel free to email a copy of this page to a friend or family member who has a collectible they are considering selling. If you recently had a successful or unusual sale on eBay, consider writing about it on InfoBarrel. Click BECOME AN AUTHOR for a free author's account and write about your online experience. It's fun and there is no cost to join.