How to Buy and Sell Collectible Coffee Mugs on eBay

Updated on November 27, 2017
TreasuresBrenda profile image

Brenda is an Ottawa native who runs a small eBay store called Treasures by Brenda where she sells new, used & vintage Lego sets & much more.

Photo by Anete Lusina
Photo by Anete Lusina | Source

Selling Mugs

If you are looking for a product that is easy to find, inexpensive to buy, and potentially very profitable, you might want to consider selling used mugs.

On average, they sell for less than $20 including shipping, and considering the cost of a is usually under $1, there is the potential to make considerable profit. Some can even sell for hundreds of dollars and suddenly the investment of the fifty cents or a dollar becomes well worth the risk. Once you learn a bit about buying and selling mugs, the return on your investment will grow.

Pros and Cons

Pros
Cons
Everybody needs one
They are breakable and require protective packaging when it comes to shipping
People love them and continue to use them even when they are broken
Many are not particularly valuable
They are easy to find, commonly turning up in thrift stores, consignment shops, or at garage sales
Shipping can be expensive depending on where you are located
Used mugs are affordable, with most priced at under $1 and collectible mugs priced at $3 dollars or less
There are many people selling them online
They are easy to store
 
It is easy to determine whether a mug is in good or bad condition
 

Buying Collectible Mugs to Sell

Like anything, there are some mugs that are more valuable than others. Learning which ones to pick up and which ones to leave behind is a process that will take time to master. If you aren't buying a mug online, check the condition by searching for chips, cracks, scratches and stains. Generally, you want them to be in nearly perfect condition. If buying online, try to look for these discrepancies in the images provided. Here is a simple list of types to look out for as you get started.

Which should you buy?

  • Vintage Pyrex, Fire King and Anchor-Hocking.
  • Vintage restaurant.
  • Starbucks. (Some are extremely valuable, but many are not. I pick up every Starbucks mug that I see and sell the less valuable ones as sets.)
  • Ones depicting famous places, people, TV shows or movies.
  • Disney. (Particularly vintage or extremely high quality. Disney sells a lot of items at retail price when they are first released so I often find this category to be harder to sell in. Shop carefully and be picky.)
  • Fine china manufacturers like Lenox, Villeroy & Boch, Portmeirion, Tiffany, Wedgwood, Adams and Royal Albert.
  • Vintage Taylor and Ng.
  • The FTD mug known as the Big Hug Mug. (It appeared in an interrogation scene on HBO's television series True Detectives. Since then, it has become highly sought after.)

Big Hug Mug
Big Hug Mug | Source

Selling Collectible Mugs

A helpful approach to pricing is to do an eBay search of listings with the highest prices listed first. Scanning a few of the top listings will give you an idea of important keywords to use in your listing title and will allow you to determine what you might expect to get.

The price is ultimately your choice, but having an idea of what they usually sell for will help you price it reasonably while still making a profit.

I recently sold this jadeite mug. It might have generated more excitement if I had listed it at a lower price. Since I am aware that I do not often have a lot of success in the auction format, I started it at a price which I knew would cover my shipping costs and allow me to make a profit. I still managed to draw a couple of bidders.

Oven Fire-King Ware Jadite Jadeite Coffee Mug
Oven Fire-King Ware Jadite Jadeite Coffee Mug | Source

I priced it at $39.96 and the final sale price was $45, which I was happy with. My costs for selling (including purchase, shipping, eBay and PayPal fees) left me with a profit of $27.29, which is not bad considering my initial investment of one dollar.

Packaging for Shipping

My shipping method is fairly straightforward and I have yet to deliver a broken cup.

  1. Use bubble wrap with large bubbles.
  2. Wrap the mug twice using a wide, 12-inch strip of bubble wrap with the bubbles facing in.
  3. Secure the ends of the wrap with packing tape. (Scotch tape will not hold.)
  4. Place the wrapped mug in a box, leaving some wiggle room and making sure it's not too tight. (Fill any extra space with filler, such as more bubble wrap or newspaper.)
  5. Situate the handle in the corner of the box and cushion it. This is the most vulnerable piece.
  6. It is critical that no part of the mug touch the box. Make sure it is well padded before shipping.

I have often thought that purchasing the perfect sized box would be ideal, but that would add at least a dollar to the already expensive Canadian shipping cost. So, at least for now, I recycle boxes that I collect from various sources, such as the grocery store.

This YouTube video by user pomeroysporch outlines the best way to package a mug, which you should employ for those extremely valuable mugs. I particularly like the addition of the cardboard to protect the handle.

Have you ever sold a coffee mug?

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© 2011 Treasures By Brenda

Do you have any questions or comments about selling coffee mugs?

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    • TreasuresBrenda profile image
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      Treasures By Brenda 2 years ago from Canada

      eBay takes a lot of work, just like any other job. Making it big is reserved for a few. If you are shooting to be amongst the top performers, I hope you make it.

    • advicequeen1 profile image

      advicequeen1 3 years ago from EASTCOAST

      there is still hope in making it big on ebay.

    • profile image

      Doc_Holliday 3 years ago

      I have to say I have never thought about selling coffee mugs, especially used ones. But the profit margin would make it well worth the ffort for someone with time on their hands.

    • astevn816 lm profile image

      astevn816 lm 3 years ago

      thanks for the packing tips, it was very informative

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image
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      Treasures By Brenda 3 years ago from Canada

      @vee-whirley: With regard to condition, I avoid damaged mugs. Unless a mug is extremely rare, I try not to buy them if they are chipped or cracked. And even if a mug is rare, I don't imagine many people want mugs that are damaged in that manner. If someone is building a collection, I am sure they want the best condition they can buy. If they are replacing a favourite broken mug, I expect the same holds true. They'll want to use it for years to come and might as well hold out for a good example.

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image
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      Treasures By Brenda 3 years ago from Canada

      @PeacefulHeather: Good luck to you! Coffee mugs are fairly plentiful -- though they're not all worth selling online -- and they are inexpensive to buy.

    • amandascloset0 profile image

      amandascloset0 3 years ago

      I've sold a lot of things on Ebay, I have sold a few mugs but may sell more in the future. Nice lens! Thanks for sharing!

    • RoadMonkey profile image

      RoadMonkey 3 years ago

      Had no idea there was a market in used coffee mugs! Have only just bundled up some mugs and donated them to charity! I have sold a few things on ebay. might have a look into this. Thanks for creating this lens. :)

    • VioletteRose LM profile image

      VioletteRose LM 3 years ago

      Great information, thanks for sharing :)

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image
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      Treasures By Brenda 3 years ago from Canada

      @anonymous: Hi, Do you mean Starbucks state mugs? Are you interested in selling them yourself or are you looking for someone to sell them for you? In any case, you can get an idea of the value by searching for the mugs individually on eBay. However, you need to search for each mug and then click through to the COMPLETED listings to see if any have sold and at what price. (To allow you to do so eBay provides a little Completed button on the left hand side of the screen under Show Only.) If you are not already selling on eBay and not interested beyond this set of mugs, you might be better off finding someone to sell them for you rather than trying to learn how selling on eBay works. It is not easy and it can take a while for many items, mugs included, to sell.Hope that helps a bit.Brenda

    • sheilamarie78 profile image

      sheilamarie78 3 years ago

      Nice idea. I've never sold on eBay, but this looks doable.

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      I have a very large collection of different state mugs that I would like to sell. They are in mint condition. All wrapped and in boxes. How would I go about finding out what they are worth and if anyone would be interested in them?

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image
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      Treasures By Brenda 3 years ago from Canada

      @Sylvestermouse: Because I am in Canada and the cost of shipping a mug is prohibitive, it is important to be sure the mugs have good value so I shop very carefully. If you're in the U.S., you definitely have an advantage!

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 3 years ago from United States

      I think you have found a really cool Ebay niche! I haven't ever tried to list coffee mugs on eBay, but you certainly make it sound worthwhile. Just need to go clean out my cabinets now :)

    • Craigos LM profile image

      CraigOs 3 years ago from USA

      Great lens with a ton of very good information. I've been selling mugs on Ebay for some time now and still gleaned a lot of valuable info from your lens.

    • profile image

      Donna Cook 3 years ago

      Terrific lens! Although I'm looking to sell on Zazzle, this lens was a great help. Thanks to my grandparents, I've been drinking coffer since I was a baby. Nectar of the godesses.

    • profile image

      Donna Cook 3 years ago

      Great lens! I'm thinking about doing mugs on Zazzle with my photos. As a coffee addict since I was a baby (due to grandparents that didn't say no), my coffee mugs are probably the best expression of my personality.

    • profile image

      vee-whirley 3 years ago

      Yes what are the fine points of grading a cup for sale, or back to the shelf??

    • PeacefulHeather profile image

      PeacefulHeather 3 years ago

      Excellent lens. Thanks for all of the great information. I am currently looking for several different ways to make money from home and I love hunting garage sales for neat stuff. This may be a combo of two cool things.

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image
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      Treasures By Brenda 3 years ago from Canada

      @anonymous: Thanks! I hope this page is helpful to those who are interested in selling mugs on eBay!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Lots of great information if you plan selling Coffee Mugs on E-bay. Without a doubt Coffee Mugs are very popular all the time.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 4 years ago

      Back to review how to send out mugs safely - I am trying to sell my first mugs on eBay. BTW - I have gained a real appreciation for mugs, I watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer and noticed that Giles drinks out of a vintage jadite mug. :)

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image
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      Treasures By Brenda 4 years ago from Canada

      @anonymous: I had a look on eBay, which you might have already done, and found only a Noritake The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady mug. Maybe someone else will see this note and be able to help you.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hello,I have a mug made by Staffordshire England Kiln Craft, which is called The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady. It is part of a series of mugs, separated by month, and has mottos for the particular month it represents on it. Mine is for December. I was wondering if you had any clue as to the value of the mug, or if you knew of another site that might. Thanks.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 4 years ago

      Pinned to my eBay board. Also, a heads up that I featured your lens as related on my own new lens: http://www.squidoo.com/my-ebay-business. You were an inspiration to me to even get into the business.

    • profile image

      ScentsWithBling 4 years ago

      I just recently got serious about selling on ebay and never thought about coffee mugs even though my cupboard is overflowing with them! Thanks for a great lens

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image
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      Treasures By Brenda 4 years ago from Canada

      @anonymous: Unless a mug is very rare and valuable, I would not sell a mug with a chip.

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image
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      Treasures By Brenda 4 years ago from Canada

      @Cynthia Haltom: You are right, most people use a mixed selection today for everyday though some of us still have a matched set that came with our dinnerware!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      What if the mug has a small chip?

    • Cynthia Haltom profile image

      Cynthia Haltom 4 years ago from Diamondhead

      There certainly is a variety in coffee mugs available. It used to be very trendy to have matched sets, I think most people now have a big selection of style and colors.

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image
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      Treasures By Brenda 4 years ago from Canada

      @anonymous: Hi, Dot -- Selling mugs on eBay can be a waiting game. I see lots of Hardee's mugs selling on eBay for not too much money, the highest priced one at just over $20. If your mug really is different than all the rest, you'll have to list it and leave it listed and wait for the right individual to come along...

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hi, Brenda! One question: I have had a Hardee's cup/mug for a long time. Have never seen another one like it. However, it will not sell on Ebay. Please give some info. on that. Was a promotional cup from March 31, 1983. Would love to send picture..?? Love your information! Dot Jones

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image
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      Treasures By Brenda 5 years ago from Canada

      Yikes, I have no idea. Does Riker's Cafe still exist? I'd recommend searching on ebay for Riker's Cafe Mug -- current listings and completed listings and then doing a google search. Also check to see if there is ANYTHING on eBay that has sold from Riker's Cafe by searching just for those words. Good luck!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I have a coffee cup from Riker's Cafe in NY, NY and is seen in the picture Edward Avedisian - At Rikers Cafe. It is obviously from the 1950s - 1960s. Do you have any idea what the value would be?

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image
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      Treasures By Brenda 5 years ago from Canada

      @anonymous: You are welcome & good luck to you!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Hi, thanks for the tips, Ive been trying to sell mugs on Ebay with no success yet. I have been looking for tips to sell on Eby

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 5 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      I used to collect coffee mugs myself and finally had to stop because I ran out of space. I 'gave away' to a church thrift store a WHOLE bunch of coffee mugs that, after reading this page, I wish now I had saved to sell on eBay. :) But, having moved 4 times since then, I guess the 'giving away' made sense back then. Plus, I wasn't selling on eBay at that time. Might be a good time to start 'looking' for certain coffee mugs to 'share' on eBay! Thanks for the terrific advice on how to sell coffee mugs.

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image
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      Treasures By Brenda 5 years ago from Canada

      @anonymous: You are welcome.

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image
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      Treasures By Brenda 5 years ago from Canada

      @DebMartin: Thanks, Deb. I'm glad my experience could help.

    • profile image

      DebMartin 5 years ago

      I just stopped back to spread a little blessings. This lens has really made a difference in my eBay selling. I notice coffee mugs everywhere! Hugs, d

    • CCGAL profile image

      CCGAL 5 years ago

      This lens was shared in a large eBay/Amazon FB group I recently joined - it was pretty cool to arrive here and realize this was yours. You are the coffee cup queen!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I found your lens on another one that I was looking at. I am soooo glad I had a look! What a great niche. I will be looking for mugs now instead of passing them by when I go treasure hunting! Thanks for a great lens!

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image
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      Treasures By Brenda 5 years ago from Canada

      @anonymous: Sorry, Connie. The comments system isn't working properly. I responded but couldn't get my answer to appear so I'm posting it again now.Connie, it's been so long since I did NOT have a store and I am not very aware of the other side of the coin (not having one.) However, here are a couple of things I do know:Almost nothing I sell sells the first time around. Even when I have the ONLY listing for a certain item, it takes awhile for the right buyer to come along. (That's a strong argument for a store.)However, some new sellers are working using the free listings...50 per month plus sometimes there are extra days...at least until they get some practice selling. Since opening a store costs money, you have to have enough inventory on hand to make it worth while. Pages about opening a store: http://pages.ebay.com/help/sell/stores.html http://pages.ebay.com/storefronts/subscriptions.ht... that helps a bit.

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image
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      Treasures By Brenda 5 years ago from Canada

      @anonymous: Connie, it's been so long since I did NOT have a store and I am not very aware of the other side of the coin (not having one.) However, here are a couple of things I do know:Almost nothing I sell sells the first time around. Even when I have the ONLY listing for a certain item, it takes awhile for the right buyer to come along. (That's a strong argument for a store.)However, some new sellers are working using the free listings...50 per month plus sometimes there are extra days...at least until they get some practice selling. Since opening a store costs money, you have to have enough inventory on hand to make it worth while. Pages about opening a store: http://pages.ebay.com/help/sell/stores.html http://pages.ebay.com/storefronts/subscriptions.ht...

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Brenda, Do you think it's best to have an eBay store or just list without one?Connie

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @TreasuresBrenda: Thanks, Brenda. I'll see what works best. I've decided to concentrate on mugs and books. There are tons of yard sales tomorrow....can't wait to go.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi, ConnieMy first thought is to get rid of the marks. Since I have never had to do so, I asked on an online forum and these are the answers that were suggested:Magic eraser Rubbing alcoholLighter fluid Bar Keepers Friend, which comes in a container that looks like Comet. Cathi said she uses this last product on all of her mugs and dishes that have marker marks and that it doesn't remove the finish or shine.Be sure to come back and let us know what you try to how it works out for you and thanks for asking, I learned something, too.Brenda

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image
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      Treasures By Brenda 5 years ago from Canada

      @anonymous: Hi, ConnieMy first thought is to get rid of the marks. Since I have never had to do so, I asked on an online forum and these are the answers that were suggested:Magic eraser Rubbing alcoholLighter fluid Bar Keepers Friend, which comes in a container that looks like Comet. Cathi said she uses this last product on all of her mugs and dishes that have marker marks and that it doesn't remove the finish or shine.Be sure to come back and let us know what you try to how it works out for you and thanks for asking, I learned something, too.Brenda

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I have a tote full of mugs from an estate that we received FREE but most of them have the person's name and year received written on the bottom with a Sharpie pen. Are these sellable? I have bookmarked your page. I've been trying to find a niche and this may be it. Thank you, Connie

    • Markstuffnmore profile image

      Markstuffnmore 5 years ago

      You should check out my lens, How to easily make a cardboard box!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I have always been a bit intimidated by eBay. Selling coffee mugs sounds like something that I could do. And the profit margin is very nice! I'm going to give this some thought. I've bookmarked your lens so that I can return. Thanks for sharing this info!

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image
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      Treasures By Brenda 6 years ago from Canada

      @anonymous: I agree and I, too, have had people thrilled to find a replacement for a mug that someone had just broken. I wish you continued luck with your mug sales.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Coffee mugs are GREAT to sell (in fact, my current inventory is getting low)! They are usually .50-1.00 and you will be surprised by the ones that sell for the most. I sold a Hot Air Balloon designed mug for $52 last year and a "Far Side Comics" mug for over $28! You just never know what someone will want, but as long as it's in good shape, has a nice "theme" (Disney, Starbucks, TV, Animals, etc.) it will probably sell. I sell most of mine for $8-9 and that doesn't seem like much, but when I only paid .50 it's a profit margin of 400%! Won't find many items with that kind of margin that are so easy to find, easy to ship and can really make someone's day (I have had MANY a husband buy my mugs because they broke their wife's favorite and were so relieved to find me selling one on Ebay).

    • auntjennie profile image

      Jen 6 years ago from Canada

      I never thought about selling mugs before on ebay. It sounds like you are having a successful go of it. I enjoyed reading the packing tips. I always have trouble making sure things get safely to their destination.

    • profile image

      mockingbird999 6 years ago

      Cool idea. I never would have thought of selling coffee mugs.

    • Rhidawn profile image

      Rhidawn 6 years ago

      Im a zazzler and I love making the designs for the coffee cups. I think this is an awesome idea. I've never really thought about it. Summer time, with all the yard sales, would be a great time of year to pick up extra coffee cups to stick on ebay...I have a lens on coffeecups as well. You may enjoy it! Great lens!

    • profile image

      kimmanleyort 6 years ago

      What a great resource. You have got me thinking too about selling coffee mugs on eBay. At least from my own collection, I can figure out which ones might be collectibles. Blessed.

    • LyricalVenus profile image

      LyricalVenus 6 years ago

      Really informative lens. I'm not really thinking of selling mugs, but I like know that such a great resource is here if I ever change my mind!

    • seashell2 profile image

      seashell2 6 years ago

      Interesting idea, I wouldn't even have thought of this... thanks for sharing your tips and info.

    • Close2Art LM profile image

      Close2Art LM 6 years ago

      great ideas, time to hit up some garage sales...blessed, :)rob

    • profile image

      DebMartin 6 years ago

      I am selling a lot of family estate stuff on ebay. It is my first experience with ebay and I'm learning. I thought when I was done selling the estate I'd be done with ebay. But now I'm not so sure. Selling coffee mugs intrigues me. Do you have a lens on opening an ebay store? It all seems so overwhelming to me. Thanks for this lens!

    • clouda9 lm profile image

      clouda9 lm 6 years ago

      Brenda your obvious expertise as an eBay seller shines through on this page. Your tips and tricks for selling coffee mugs definitely has piqued my interest. *Blessed today because this page is extremely helpful for novice to expert eBay sellers!

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      Paula7928 6 years ago

      Hi Brenda, great lens!

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 6 years ago from Arkansas USA

      I agree with stargazer00. It's been some time since I've been a regular seller on eBay, but you have me thinking about it for sure with this excellent lens! (Thanks for featuring my lens here, too!)

    • emmaklarkins profile image

      emmaklarkins 6 years ago

      Interesting. I've never tried selling stuff like this before, but I know other people who have.

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      Tarra99 6 years ago

      I have a collection of different Denby mugs I rec'd as gifts...I LOVE having my morning coffee in a different mug every day...it cheers me up for some reason...??? ;o)

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 6 years ago

      What an extremely helpful page on selling mugs on eBay. I no longer sell on eBay but your page has me thinking about it...

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