eBay Collectibles in Focus: The New Vintage 1970s

By: Phil Dunn

In part one of this story series, we talked about the shifting sands of eBay Collectibles trends and the unique sales characteristics of 1960s collectibles. Now we’re on to the 1970s.

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As we mentioned before, the collectibles landscape has changed significantly since eBay’s early days in the late 1990s and early 2000s. As collectibles expert Lynn Dralle mentioned: “The rare Victorian antique scores of $5,000 to $4,000 sales have become less common. There’s much more competition for deals, and the buying has shifted to Mid-Century Modern and beyond.”

Things get a little crazy and pop cultural in the 70s, and there are even more unique listings than the 60s offerings. It could be that the cultural revolution that headlined the 1960s heavily influenced consumers around this time. Madison Avenue took over revolutionary ideas from the previous decade and made them into persuasion campaigns for the likes of Coke, Chevy, Kodak and Disney.

eBay Collectibles listings reflect some of that consumerism, with soda signs, pop art, movie posters, and automotive signage that dominate the listings. Then there were Mickey Mouse watches, cereal boxes, and popular comics (Peanuts, Captain America, Incredible Hulk). TV and movie memorabilia also started to gain steam, with lunch boxes and Thermoses featuring hits (Star Wars made its huge collectibles debut in the 1970s). And of course, there are those groovy Greg Brady-style beaded curtains.

Like the 60s collectibles, the 70s also feature turntables, typewriters, wall clocks, Tonka toys, lamps, sculpture and other furniture art. However, the ante is raised with lava lamps, 8-track players, vintage belt buckles, drug-hippie posters, National Lampoon magazines, arty ashtrays, and more.

In the art furnishings categories, there are lots of mushroom shaped lamps, ottomans, chairs and figurines. Atmos clocks made a big showing, as did Bullova and Omega watches, turquoise jewelry, tourmaline, pipes, metal pineapple ice buckets, Zippo lighters and other arty accessories. Many notable arcade games arrived in the 1970s as well.

Custom knives and pocket knives with bone handles become big sellers in the 70s. The trend continued into the 1980s. These durable, easy-to-ship items fetch anywhere from $300 to $20 now.

Of course, disco-themed art and groovy artifacts, including disco balls, were hot in the 1970s. Vintage child and adult toys, like GI Joe, Barbie, Schwinn Stingray bikes, and mini-bikes (small motorcycles) were all over the listings, as well.

Next up in this story series, we’ll check out the 1980s, where pop culture reigned, Star Wars got even bigger, and beer ads became art.