Collecting Trivets

I've been collecting trivets for thirty years. For most of that time, it meant browsing through antique shops and flea markets. Driving, walking about, rummaging through all the other antique kitchen items, then driving to other locations to repeat the process had become my frustrating routine. It was seldom that I would come upon anything exciting, and it took a long time to build up even a modest trivet collection. Most of the trivets I found were 1950’s era reproductions, so that is how my trivet collection began.

Since 2000 I have been purchasing the majority of my trivets on the Internet. It saves on time and gasoline, the selection is unbeatable, and there are still bargains to be had! In a single session at the computer, I can view a wider variety of antique and reproduction trivets than I could otherwise see in a year of browsing through shops. The downside is that the trivet can't be physically handled prior to purchase; but by studying the photograph(s) and emailing the seller, I can gather enough information to make a purchase decision. It's a wonderful way to buy trivets!

Avoid disappointment when on the Internet by reading auction listings carefully. Always email the seller with your questions prior to bidding. Answers to the following questions will help you decide whether or not to bid.

  • Are there any cracks or chips?
  • If the trivet is plated, what percentage is remaining?
  • Is there any paint loss to an accent painted finish?
  • If rusted, is there pitting to the metal?
  • What is the length of the legs?
  • Are there any numbers, letters or inscription on the reverse?

Once you’ve seen a trivet on an auction site that you want for your collection, and after emailing the seller to clarify any concerns, go ahead and place an initial minimum bid. Resist the temptation to increment bid over several days time; instead, wait until the last day of the auction to make any final bid(s). And, perhaps most important, decide ahead of time what your maximum bid will be, then stick to it.

One valuable thing I’ve done for years is to keep a notebook of auctions I’ve lost! I’ll print the Auction information for an ended Internet/Live or eBay Auction, then file it away in a notebook. That notebook serves two purposes: it’s my “Wish Book” for trivets I hope to acquire in the future; and it serves as a reminder of previous sale prices.

Once you become familiar with buying trivets on the Internet, the next step is to offer your duplicate or unwanted trivets for sale to other trivet collectors.  It's a great way to make a little extra money, and it’s also a terrific way to meet other collectors online. Give it a try! Below are some auction listing suggestions for the novice seller.

  • Heading: Your heading should be concise, but have enough search terms that the right audience finds your auction. Avoid wasting valuable space with terms like Rare, Unusual, or Antique.
  • Description: Include trivet dimensions, type of metal, number of legs, a description of any markings on the reverse, and the condition of the trivet (free of cracks/chips, etc.). If there are defects, be sure to reveal and describe them. Also, if there is anything special about your trivet (in the original box, casting marks visible, etc.), be sure to include that information also. The more completely you describe your trivet, the fewer email questions you’ll get!
  • Photograph(s): This is one of the most important features of your listing. Items rarely sell without a picture, and a picture of poor quality will severely hamper  bids on your item. A digital camera takes the best quality pictures, with the added convenience of being able to download those photos directly into your home computer and onto the Internet. Be sure to provide images of both the front and reverse.
  • Price: Remember that a trivet can sell with a single bid, so set your opening price accordingly. On trivets of value, a Reserve price (the lowest price you are willing to accept) will insure that the trivet will at least fetch your minimum amount. However, you will observe sellers who consistently gamble and set their opening bids low with no reserve, trusting that the principle of supply and demand will guarantee adequate, appropriate bids. You might also want to consider listing your trivet as a “Buy It Now” with a fixed sales price.
  • Shipping: Trivets deserve to be shipped, well padded, in a decent box! Make sure the box selected will bear the weight of the trivets shipped within. And avoid padded mailer bags; trivet legs are notorious for poking through that packaging, and a sharp blow can bend or crack a valuable trivet. As for padding, I wrap in bubble wrap and newspaper, saving any bubble wrap I receive in purchases and recycling it with subsequent mailings.
  • Insurance: I always insure my trivet purchases and encourage others to do the same. Old iron can become brittle, and an antique trivet can actually shatter if dropped. And brass, being a softer metal, is even more easily damaged in transit.

This excerpt was shared from "The Expanded A-Z Guide To Collecting Trivets"by PITCA member Lynn Rosack. Signed copies are available for sale in our PITCA Store.