This is the place to come to learn about Avery style needle cases.

Tips for Collectors

In retrospect, collectors often wish they’d been given some advice about collecting when they first started.  Therefore, our group of experienced collectors would like to offer the following ten tips for Avery collectors.  Hopefully these tips, along with the research detailed on this website, will provide valuable information to help you make better choices.

  1. Document your collection - It is always a good idea to keep a record of the needle cases in your collection.  If you don’t, you might end up purchasing an item in the future only to discover you already have it.  Or a time many come when you need to sell an item or part of your collection and this record will help you make important decisions about it.  Documenting the items in your collection will also aid your executors later when they need to decide what to do with your estate. But what should be tracked and how?  A simple notebook or a computer based spreadsheet works best.  Record at least the following for each item:
    ---Date Purchased
    ---Item name
    ---Description - including the name stamped on it, any variation of pattern, etc.
    ---Condition - including missing pieces and repairs or replaced parts
    ---Purchase Price
    ---Reference - a photograph or the name of the book or website which provides additional information about the item

  2. Become knowledgeable about what you collect - Research information about the items in your collection so you know something about them.  Read reference books, articles and visit websites to build a broad knowledge base not only for the items you collect but for similar objects as well. This will bring a different perspective to collecting.  Additionally, the more you know about the individual items in your collection, the more meaningful they will be to you.

  3. Try to get a feel for what is a reasonable price - especially for the more common items.  Be aware that a needle case in less than good condition or with something missing will be considerably lower in value.  When this website was developed, some sellers listed Avery style needle cases for sale on eBay at very high buy-it-now prices.  These prices, even when they appeared to be discounted, were significantly overstated and the items seldom, if ever, sold at those prices.  The only way to uncover the actual sale’s price for an item on eBay is to search “sold” auctions.  If it doesn’t show up in the “sold” category, it didn’t sell for that amount.

  4. Find other collectors and share information - If you collect in isolation you will be missing an opportunity to learn more about what you collect.  Each person brings a different perspective to the table and you can learn new things by communicating with others.  Everyone develops natural biases based on their unique experiences which frequently result in only looking at something from one point of view.  Join collector’s groups, contact other Avery collectors and discuss with interested friends to engage with like-minded people.  Sharing ideas and information with others will often reveal new and enlightening information.

  5. Don’t believe everything you hear or read - Just because someone says something doesn’t make it true.  Also, just because you read something in a book or online doesn’t make it a fact. Many times, a seller or author will describe an item as an Avery needle case because it has certain similar characteristics, when in fact the item is something else.  Often this isn’t done intentionally, it’s just that they are not always experts on these items.  Perhaps they are just passing along information told to them when they originally obtained the item or wrote about it.  Frequently you’ll see Avery needle cases for sale online marked as rare or in excellent condition even though they are actually quite common or are missing an important piece.

  6. Examine each item carefully before purchasing and ask questions - Today it is difficult to personally examine items for sale because many times they are sold on eBay or other online auctions.  When this is the case you need to examine the online photographs very carefully and compare them to known examples from other sources.  If you have questions or doubts, don’t be shy about asking them. Just prepare a list and forward it to the seller.  Most reputable sellers will be more than happy to answer your questions and supply additional photographs if necessary.

  7. To clean or not to clean - that is the question.  Whenever a new item is purchased a decision needs to be made whether to clean it, and if so how.  Beware of chemical cleaners for brass and other metal objects.  Before doing anything, you should think twice, and reflect upon whether cleaning or polishing it a good thing to do.  When Avery needle cases were originally manufactured, different finishes were applied to the surface and some finishes were intentionally left dull by today’s standards.  Additionally, brass has a natural patina that develops over the years which adds a richness to the needle case.  If you try to change this by using a harsh cleaner or polish you might not only remove the finish but also end up removing some of the fine detail stamped onto the brass.  When this is done the value of your item is diminished.  A simple gentle cleaning with a cotton ball or Q-tip and rubbing alcohol is often best.

  8. If the item has a one-of-a-kind feature, be careful - When Avery needle cases were manufactured hundreds of them had to be produced in order to justify the cost of creating the dies and molds used to make them.  Because of this, in most cases, individual items could not be customized or personalized.  Whenever you see an Avery needle case that is slightly different from others of the same design it’s originality should be questioned.  Many times, the item will be missing a piece or have a part replaced or piece added.  And sometimes the item in question will not be an Avery needle case at all but will be a pen nib box, stamp box or something else.  Known variations within individual designs are listed on variation web page and in on the Master List.

  9. Learn from your mistakes - Remember that most collectors have made mistakes, usually when first starting to collect.  Impulse buying can lead to not getting quite what was expected or a later realization that too much was paid.  If that happens, use it as a learning experience.  Do more price research, refer to reference sites and books, study photos more carefully and ask more questions.  Another common mistake is thinking you can easily correct a minor flaw, for example bending a small piece back into its original position only to have it break off.  Repairs should be done by a competent, experienced person who has knowledge of metals and antiques such as a jeweler.

  10. Display your collection and enjoy it - If you always purchase needle cases you like you will never be disappointed.  However, you need to place them in a location where you can see them and admire them on a regular basis.  A glass display case, cabinet or desktop in a room in your house that you frequent will do the trick as you will see them every day.  Keep this in mind when you see something you think you want but it has a problem such as a missing clasp or catch.  Ask yourself, is this something you can live with, even if only until an opportunity to upgrade arises in the future.

Master List

To date 227 Avery style needle cases have been discovered.  Visit these pages to see photographs of each design as well as the original design registration or patent and gain knowledge about variations within each design.

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Avery Survey

In 2013 an Avery Survey was created in order to gather as much information as possible about Avery style needle cases from collectors and interested parties around the world.  The Avery Survey is easy to complete and gives you a chance to contribute to this important research.  Be sure and stop here to see the survey results.

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About Us

Learn how the author turned a hobby cross stitching antique sampler reproductions into a passion for collecting Avery needle cases resulting in a published book, a Wikipedia article, a TCI Bulletin article and conference presentation and this website.

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