Tips for sellers

I don’t think there’s a magic trick to sell copper online. Different buyers want different things, but every buyer has to reach a decision: do I want the thing for sale enough to pay the asking price (or bid or make an offer)?

My suggestion to you as a seller is to provide enough clear information to make it as easy as possible for a buyer to make that decision. Having looked at and bought (or not bought!) quite a bit of copper online, I’ve realized that my decision process comes down to weighing five pieces of information.

In brief, here are the questions I have and how you can address them in your listing.

How big is the pan? Give the pan body’s diameter in centimeters, and consider including another object for scale in a photo.
How thick is the copper? Give the pan’s weight without its lid in grams, and take a photo of the rim of the pan against a metric ruler or caliper.
What’s the condition of the lining? Take a clear well-lit overhead photo of the pan’s entire interior, and zoomed-in photos of any discolored areas.
Is it going to need repairs? Take photos of all sides of the pan, its handle, and top-down, and test the base to see if it wobbles on a flat surface.
Is there anything special about it? Take clear photos of any words, letters, or numbers stamped on the pan or its handle; if there are no stamps at all, take a good photo of the handle baseplate.

Read on for more detail about each of these.

How big is the pan?

You’d be surprised how often sellers make this hard to figure out.

  • Measure the pan in centimeters and include it in the description. French (and European) pots and pans are sized to the metric system and it’s more precise than inches.
  • Measure the pan body. It’s helpful also to measure handle-to-handle, but that’s not the useable size of the pot.
  • Include a photo with an object for scale. Placing a pot against a plain backdrop for photos is nice for clarity but it’s hard to tell how big it is. Consider adding a wine bottle or soda can or some other object into the frame as well.

How thick is the copper?

Saying a pan is “heavy!” or “weighs about five pounds!” isn’t really helpful.

  • Weigh the pan accurately and precisely. Use a scale and provide as specific a weight as you can. Learn how to switch your scale’s units to grams and kilos, which are more precise than pounds and ounces.
  • Give the weight of the pan without its lid. Lids are great, but my primary concern is the thickness of the pan body. Better yet, weigh the pan with and without its lid (if it has one) and give me both weights.
  • Take a photo of the rim of the pan with a metric ruler (or caliper). If you don’t have a caliper handy, lay a metric ruler flat over the rim and get a close-up so I can see for myself how many millimeters thick it is.
  • Include the thickness of the pan in millimeters in the item description. If you’d like some suggestions on how to measure thickness, I did a post on it.

What’s the condition of the lining?

This is particularly important for tin-lined pans. Just one or two good clear photos can do it.

  • Take at least one well-lit, in-focus overhead photo of the entire interior of the pan.
  • Take a zoomed-in photo of areas with discoloration. You don’t need to show every square inch of the surface, but you need to capture the texture of the tin to convey what state it’s in.

Is it going to need repairs?

These are not deal-breakers for me but they are an extra expense during retinning. Here’s what will help me:

  • A top-down photo to show if the pan is out of round
  • Photo of the handle(s) to show corrosion around the base and damaged or loose rivets
  • Photos of all sides to show dents and scratches
  • Test the base by setting it on a flat surface to check if it wobbles

Is there anything special about it?

For me, it comes down to stuff like this: Was it made by a maker I like? Was it used by someone or someplace famous? How old is it?

Very simply: Please provide good in-focus photos of any words, letters, or numbers stamped into the copper or the handle. They can tell me quite a bit about the maker and era of the piece, and can make even a small lightweight piece more precious to me.

If the pan is stamped with the a maker or store stamp, include that information in the listing title and description. I search copper listings for specific makers and store names, and I know other collectors do too. If you’d like to learn about a range of makers and stores, please take a look at my Identification page.

If the pan doesn’t have any stamps at all, give a good clear photo of the handle baseplates. Sometimes the design of the baseplate and rivets can help estimate the pan’s era and maker.

I hope this helps. I can’t give you the magic secret to selling copper, but I do believe that communicating clearly and accurately about the copper you have for sale will help you reach more buyers and give them more confidence about their decision to buy.