Skilcraft U.S. Government Pen eBay

Vintage Skilcraft Retractable “US Government” Ball Point Pens

Dollar Flipper Ebay Flip 16 Comments

Back to a regular flip!

Vintage Collectible US Government Skilcraft Pens eBay

I feel bad, but I imagine whoever bought these wears a pocket protector…

I bought these pens on a chance. They were in one of those little bread tins with some other drawing tools and small toys. It was “half off day” at an estate sale, so I got the whole tin for a quarter! There was even an identical loose pen in the tin at the bottom. Basically a no risk buy.

After looking them up on eBay, I lucked out and found a previous seller who ran an auction and sold a box of 11 for $14.95 + 4.95 S/H. We all know how much I love auctions (not), so I figured that I’d be able to list them higher.

The seller did have a nice little note saying “The pens were “were individually tested. With a little coaxing they all produced ink and wrote.”

With this in mind, I ended up testing all 25 pens. 18 of the pens ended up working. I marked the 7 that didn’t work with painter’s tape (doesn’t leave a residue) so I didn’t want to forget which pens had issues.

I was on the fence about whether I should list them all as a set or in two lots.

Vintage Pens – What Category?

Skilcraft U.S. Government Pen eBay

I’m making back some of the tax dollars that my grandparents paid to have this pen made! Ironic?

The other little “tip” I got from the previously sold listing was the category. I would have chosen Collectibles>Other Collectible Ball Point Pens if I had to guess.

The other seller listed them in Collectibles>Militaria>Vietnam (1961-75)>Original Period Items>Personal, Field Gear. I’d never thought of putting a pen in this category. It’s a much smaller niche, but for anyone who has sold military items, it’s a very passionate group!

I ended up splitting the lot into two listings. Both were labeled as “unissued.” The complete/working set was listed new at $44.99 or best offer, and the 2nd was $22.99 or best offer. Both had free shipping, and the 2nd set was listed as 12+1 unissued but I noted the set as used. I explained that they were unissued and how only 6 worked, but figured I’d throw in the extra 7 (marked with painter’s tape) to let the buyer try their luck.

So what offer did I end up taking on my quarter investment?

NONE! They both sold at full price within a week!

  • Purchase price – $0.25
  • End Selling Price – $44.99+22.99 = 67.98
  • Fees and Shipping/Handling – $9.56

Total Profit:  $58.17

These were some ideal sales. Easy to ship (very light), high ROI, and quick mover.

On top of that, I appreciate clothing because of the ease of listing, the routine shipping sizes (most fit in a poly bag or a padded flat rate mailer), and easy to store, but these types of sales are what I really enjoy. It’s like finding a diamond in the rough, whereas finding a cool The Territory Ahead shirt is just a little “routine.” You know you’ve been doing this for a while when you aren’t excited about a $20 profit!

That’s the other issue with only looking for the “cool” items. You can go to 20 garage sales and only find one or two items like this one. I can find clothes to re-sell at almost any place I go!

I guess this is a bit of a conundrum. I only have so many hours in the day, so I’m going try to stick with my regular model: buy clothes (but only the good ones) and still check out the cool stuff. Additionally, I’ll take a shot almost any time for a quarter!

Best Offer Rocks

I think this flip underscores the importance of listing an item high, but having the best offer option. A set of 11 unused pens sold for $20 at auction. I sold 6 working (plus the 7 that didn’t work) for $2 more than that, and a full box for over double.

Was my set any different? Sure. One of my sets was worse and one was slightly better. But what do you have to lose when you list it high? Worst-case it sits for a bit. Best case, it goes for full price. Normal case is that you get somewhere in between.

In my eyes, it’s still better than what I ever got in an auction! I just feel like the auction is like an slot machine. You end up losing a lot more money than you make.

Comments 16

  1. What a great flip–thanks for sharing!

    I so agree with your thoughts on auctions vs. BIN. And anytime I’m unsure about how to price something, I also use the “price it high with BO” method. There have been plenty of times someone has paid full price for something I thought was almost certainly priced to high. Love it!

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      Yep! The only thing I’ve started doing is listing any items under $30 without a best offer. I don’t want to haggle over $1 or two just to make $10-15!

  2. It’s hard to decide whether to focus on the easy profits like clothes or the diamonds in the rough, but I take the stance that I would be bored if I only focused on the easy stuff. It’s good to get in some treasure hunting time if you have some extra time.

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      Couldn’t agree more. The bread and butter is what keeps the money flowing in but this isn’t full time for me! If I wasn’t making money, I wouldn’t really have any issues.

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  3. Smart to list it in a different category. You never know with items like these where they’ll end up. Maybe props in a movie or for military re-enactments. Sometimes people in those areas are passionate like you said and sticklers for authenticity down to the last detail. Nice flip!

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  4. oh my goodness! we had dozens of these around the house when I was a kid! I wouldn’t have thought to flip them but it certainly brought back memories 😀

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      Isn’t it crazy how a bunch of little items give you a lot of nostalgia? I’m the same way with a lot of 90’s toys.

  5. This post should be featured on the front page of eBay. All it takes to be successful is a little creativity and care.

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      It really was a great sale overall. Interesting item, eBay provided a TON of information that really helped me understand the market, and I got good feedback from happy buyers. I wish they all went this smoothly!

  6. That was such a great flip. I also use BO when I’m not sure of the value of an item. I really don’t have the patience for auctions. I usually skip over those listings when I’m shopping lol.

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      Exactly! I’ll only look at auctions if it’s a great deal, and I’ll put in a low offer in one of those snipe sites.

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