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A lot of people list on auctions like Ebay and while I'm no expert, there are a few things that I have noticed that just might come in handy when you want to sell your favorite Cap Guns or Toys.

You would think that the first thing would be to know something about the product you are trying to sell, but so many say things like, "I'm no Cap Gun expert, but..." Well, don't say things like that. Even if you aren't, just leave out that part, for nobody really cares. What they care about is whether or not it is something they want. And the only way you are going to portray this item as something that everybody might want is to (at least) represent it properly. I have seen guns that said Hubley when they were Leslie-Henry. And countless other examples. So, if you can, then do a little research on what it is that you are selling, instead of, "Oh, I have this rock. It is clear and will scratch any kind of glass and reflects light pretty well, but I'm not sure what it is." (when it's a diamond!)


Tell the people what your guarantee policies are and portray all of the good points AND THE BAD when telling about the product. Cottoneyejoe (on Ebay) has the best warranty I have ever seen and so he instills confidence in his customer—and some warranties are "as is" but at least tell them. Don't leave them guessing. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES try and cover up a flaw in the product. This will burn you good in the long run. Remember the "Golden Rule?" One of the best guarantees of integrity is to show—by photos—all of the imperfections that might detract from the price. You think that will hurt the bidding, but it won't. It will guarantee that the bidders will have full confidence in what they are bidding on. Those who have confidence are MORE LIKELY to bid!!!


While pricing is a tricky subject, there are basically two types: Those where you have a minimum and those where you don't.

If you are going to put a minimum, try not to put it so high that it scares people away. Otherwise, you may as well not list it at all. I know one fellow who starts off with a huge price and then expects people to at least start there. If he doesn't sell, then too bad. He will list it again. Doesn't that get expensive? Consider your time alone!!! If you aren't going to put a minimum, then it is IMPERATIVE that you give a proper description and proper photos, as your marketing is all you have. Take some time to describe so that you will get a good return on your money.

When in doubt as to price, then you might consider using Jim Schleyer's Backyard Buckaroos, Collecting Western Toy Guns as a good reference. I know that it is out of print and I know that since it was published awhile back, that the prices are a little low, but it might give you a good "ballpark" figure. You say you don't have a copy? Ha! I have a signed one. However, he signed a lot of them. You can also find these books at auction on Ebay, but they will sell for multiples of the original price, which was $29.95. Now you can buy one for the price of 4 people at a fine restaurant!!! However, even then, I consider it a good value. I just bought another one myself.


i've already brushed on description in the knowledge and integrity sections, but here is what counts. Give ENOUGH OF A DESCRIPTION that people can make up their own minds. They don't know you and might not realize just how valuable your product really is. Seriously!!! So, say more than......"Here it is. If you want it, bid. If you don't, then good luck. And thanks for looking." I see some that are almost that dumb. No, go all out and give a really thorough description of the product. Say what year it was made. Describe how your photos might differ in color from the way it really looks. Tell its imperfections. Tell its strong points. Remind people of how often they might expect to find one like this. Never miss a flaw: Describe every single one!!! (really important!) If it can be repaired, then say so and perhaps where they can find parts.

Learn to spell and use proper grammar. I have seen people actually mispell "Nichols" when it was a Nichols Cap Gun and it was written right on the gun itself. They put "Nickels." I have seen all sort of words misspelled. When you finish typing up some text for your sale, for goodness' sake, go back and re-read it. Print it on paper and read it and you might find some typos!


One of the best photographers I know is Mr. Doug Hamilton. He sells Cap Guns (and quite a few other things on Ebay) for other people (and himself) and takes the best shots I ever saw. He is not afraid to get up close and personal. The photo on the right is one of his. So, here are some rules which I have learned and which I see that people could use.

1.) Hold your camera STILL. It sounds stupid, but still I see SO MANY photos where they are out of focus. Are these people looking at the finished shot before they send it off? If you have a difficult time holding still (like me), then purchase an inexpensive tripod, and you will stay put. When you snap the shutter, squeeze it down slowly—don't jerk it. (Just like shooting a real gun! DON'T JERK!!!) Most digital cameras have a function whereby if you push the button down halfway, then it focuses and auto-adjusts and then the second half takes the picture. Try it. And remember...when in doubt, swallow your pride and USE A TRIPOD!

2.) Get some light on the subject. I see countless photos where you can hardly tell the frame of the Cap Gun from the cylinder or the grips. Sunlight is almost always the best, however you can get available room light to work for you. Notice where the light is coming from and where it winds up in your picture. Chrome plated Cap Guns are notorious for reflecting light like a mirror and then you get an overexposure. You can always help an underexposed photo, but an overexposed photo is ruined. There's nothing to work with. If you see that there is too much flash (or light) in your shot, then try moving the light source. Or have 2 light sources, but turn them a little away from the subject. Reflect them off of the ceiling. Do anything EXCEPT have the light come directly back into the lens. If you want to sell a lot of Cap Guns, then you might consider going to a photography store and purchasing some lighting, as in bulbs and stands. I have some and they were about $100 for a set of 2. They have the proper color. I don't sell Cap Guns, but I do build websites! Ask me for one!

3.) And for goodness' sake, look at your photo on your computer—not just through the LCD monitor on the back of your camera. The picture is so small there that it almost always looks fine. So you send it in and it is terrible. Pull up the photo in your favorite editing software. Most decent cameras come with something. If it's bad, take the shot over.

4.) Get all of the subject that you intended into the bounds of the photo!!! I see a lot of Cap Guns where the end of the barrel is hanging over the edge. No wonder the purchaser is surprised to find out that the end of the barrel didn't have any chrome! But get as close as you possibly can. Most decent cameras have a "MACRO" setting whereby it allows you to get up close and personal. Do it! If you want to show the grips, then set it on macro and get up really close. I'll warn you, it is harder to remain still when you are close. Maybe you ought to think, "TRIPOD!"

I hope these are good examples of what I have been talking about. I took these with a Canon 20D and used a tripod! The upper one is a "re-pop" Halco Marshal from Bob Terry taken outside with indirect sunlight and the bottom one (taken indoors, but the color temperature adjusted for incandescent light) is a "goldish" 50th anniversary Kusan version of the Dyna-Mite—again, from Bob Terry. Most people don't know it, but I myself don't sell Cap Guns. I build websites and advertise for you on this website. —Mike Nichols

5.) Learn to use your software and adjust the "Gamma Factor." It is very common for a photo to be fine—except it was underexposed. This is where the Gamma Factor can really be useful. If the photo is overall too dark and there are too many shadows, then increasing the Gamma Factor can make it almost appear like noon on a sunny day. Shadows flee. If your software doesn't have that adjustment, then get some better software.

6.) Check the focus. When you take for a website like Ebay, you will never need a photo that is larger in resolution than 640 x 480. 320 x 240 actually is about the best size overall—or possibly 400 x 300. Ebay is going to shrink your big photos down anyway, for they only have so much room. Send them to Ebay in resolutions of 640 x 480 or less and you will be happy. However, if you take the photo at 640 x 480 and then have to reduce its size down (by shrinking) to 320 x 240, then you ought to crank up the focus about 1 point or so. Reason? When you physically reduce a photo, then it gets just a little "soft." When you increase the size of the photo, then it gets "pixellated." That is, the colored dots begin to show. Shrinking is always best! (if you must)

7.) Watch your "white balance." Most digital cameras adjust for this automatically, but you can also adjust it yourself by a pre-set. Regular screw-in light bulbs are incandescant and are therefore a tungsten source. Adjust for that. Most fluorescent lightbulbs are cool white and are really quite yellow and you can adjust the camera for that. Adjusting your white balance will affect the other colors considerably. If all you have is incandescant lighting and you take a shot in a room that is a little dark, don't be surprised if all of your photos look a little reddish sometimes.

8.) Watch what you're pointing at. (That sentence in itself is poor grammar, but you know what I mean!) Actually the first "color" that a normal digital camera sees is WHITE. Therefore be very careful when photographing anything that has a lot of white in it. Many Cap Gun grips are white. If you are pointing at the white grips, then the camera will adjust itself accordingly and your shot will turn out darker than you expected. Also you might not see much detail in the white grips. Don't have too much light and watch out for white. There are other colors that obscure the subject. For instance: RED. A lot of sellers like red because they think that it gets a lot of attention. However, the thing that gets the most attention is a properly exposed, focused, excellent photo. When a camera sees red and the Cap Gun is highly-polished nickel or chrome, then, being "sort of" a mirror, it reflects the red that is right beside it, and it might be hard to tell where the background quits and the Cap Gun starts. My suggestion is to learn from Mr. Jamie Linford. Jamie always uses pastel backgrounds. That is, they are NOT bright colors and do not interfere with the Cap Gun. STAY AWAY FROM SHINY BACKGROUNDS!!! Many of you use the paneling from your house as a background. Actually a solid color background works best. I saw one this morning where the gun was laid on a multi-colored blanket and besides disappearing into the folds of the blanket, you could hardly see the gun: It was almost camouflaged!

9.) Finally, don't try and get a fortune for something that is worth peanuts. There is little chance that a great photo is going to sell a terrible gun. And if you do, you will probably make somebody mad. And if the gun is worth less, then perhaps CLEAN IT!!! How many times have you seen a dirty gun for sale? The seller said that you might be able to either brush it up a little or fix some broken part yourself. Pretty silly not to even clean it.

You might even try looking at the photos of guns on this website and trying to get yours to look at least that good. However, DON'T use those photos. One guy did and we had to threaten him to get him to pull MY CAP GUN PHOTOS from his auction! He even used my text and acted like he was me! Top that off with the fact that he was angry that somebody actually called his hand and asked him not to do it!!! (Even Ebay was upset!)

And good luck on your enterprise!!! — Mike Nichols

p.s. If you have any good tips, just send them in.
We will be happy to list toy shows and the like (free), if you will please send them to me at: .
Should you have some nice photos and/or some text, please send them to me at: .

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