When you buy copper online, you are relying on the seller to pack it safely so it arrives undamaged. I have examples of great and not-so-great packing, and one that was absolutely disastrous.
This was the box for the first copper pot I ever bought, and it’s a good one. The entire box is encased in duct tape, and the pot inside was also well cushioned. There’s nothing protruding from the box and it’s not crushed. Considering that this box came all the way from France, it looks pretty good, because the sender of this one — FrenchAntiquity — knows what he’s doing.
Here’s another good packing job, also from France. Good structural integrity.
For this one, I also took a photo of the pot inside and how it was wrapped. That’s a well-protected pan right there. It was in great shape.
Here’s another box. Note the wall-to-wall eBay branded tape. It’s a little inconvenient to open, but it does help keep the contents inside the box. This is important, as we will learn in a moment.
Now, this is is a badly-packed box.
The pot inside has a long iron handle that can punch through cardboard. That’s what’s happened here. When the handle pokes out of the box like this, it can get slammed against hard surfaces as the box is moved through shipping. That force travels through the handle to the body of the pot. In a vintage pot, there’s the possibility that the force can loosen the rivets or even deform the pot walls.
The handle should have been wrapped in paper or bubble wrap or something to blunt the force of that pointy end, and the pot itself should have been secured with cushioning materials to hold it in place in the center of the box so it didn’t shift. The styrofoam pellets peeking out were clearly not up to the task.
Here’s another example, where the box is partially collapsed.
Copper pots and pans are heavy and often get stacked with other heavy things during shipping. The problem is that the pot inside is a dense thing surrounded by softer, lighter-weight packing materials. The packing materials are intended to keep the pot centered inside the box but they aren’t intended to support the extra weight of other stacked boxes. The box needs to be supported by rigid materials on the inside that will help keep it from being crushed.
Miraculously, the pots inside this box (and the one above, with the handle poking out) seemed fine. And it truly is a miracle — I can only think that the shippers saw the damage and took a little care with it. This consideration is not something you can rely on.
Now this one is a heartbreaker.
I remember when I picked it up to move it to my counter to unpack it, I could hear the pot inside rattling. That is a very very bad sign.
Here’s what the pot looked like when I unpacked it.
The lid of this pot protrudes about half an inch beyond the wall of the pot. That thin lip is bent back.
The sender of this pot didn’t bother to wrap the pot in anything to protect it. They laid the pot inside the box (which was too small) and pushed in some paper batting to fill the spaces around it. That was it. I guess they assumed that if the box was nice and tight around the pot, then it would be fine. On the contrary, the metal edges of the pot rested directly against the inside walls of the box, which is very bad for the pot.
Here’s what the inside of that box looked like. You can see where the brass handle of the pot rested directly on the bottom of the box with enough force to crush the fibers of the cardboard, carving out a semicircle as the pot shifted inside the box. A few inches away, the sharp edge of the lid of the pot gouged out a hole in the wall of the box. That’s likely the portion of the lip that got bent back from contact with things outside the box.
This is the only copper pot I have ever returned to the seller. It broke my heart to do it, but this pot needed serious repair. The seller planned to file a damage claim with the shipper (UPS), so I needed to return the pot in its original packing materials, but I couldn’t bear to put it in such jeopardy again. I wrapped the pot in my own bubble wrap, taping up the lid separate from the body, and put it back in the damaged box. I stuffed the box firmly with the original paper batting and added more cushioning with more of my bubble wrap. Once everything felt tight, I closed up the box and took it back to UPS and had them place this box inside another larger one, cushioned by a layer of styrofoam packing peanuts. That’s how the pot should have been packed in the first place.
I was furious with the seller for packing the box so incompetently. The seller claimed they’d shipped many copper pots with no problems before, but if they packed those boxes the way they packed this one, I find that hard to believe.
Anyway. The seller refunded me but I’m mostly upset on behalf of the pot. Such a beautiful thing should not have been subjected to this insult. I have not purchased from that seller again.
Moral of the story: When you buy copper pots and pans online, your buying experience doesn’t end with the payment. The seller needs to pack your pots carefully so that they reach you without damage. (And remember that your purchase’s shipping charge includes the seller’s time and expense of packing!)