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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How does your Best Offer process work?

Dietrich''s Vault is a collection of one of a kind items that are, by their nature, difficult to place current market values on. We think our prices are fair and based on current research; but we understand basic economics and can only sell what someone else thinks an item is worth. The Best Offer Program gives our customers an opportunity to tell us what they think our items are worth and if we think it is a fair price, we will accept. Please refer to our policies document link at the bottom of our web site for more information.

What are your polices for checks?

Please refer to our checks topic page for answers to frequently asked questions.

What are your Condition Codes?

The condition codes we use are: Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor. Additional information is sometimes added for clarification. Please use the product's pictures (1-4) to verify its condition or contact us for more information.

What effect does the condition have on price?

Condition is just one factor in determining an item’s price. Other factors include the item’s rarity, its provenance and price history.

Can we inquire about an item's condition by contacting someone for more information?

Yes, we encourage this. Although we do everything we can to help you make your purchasing decision easier (using descriptions, photographs e.g.) we know it is difficult to purchase anything where you cannot touch, feel or hold the item. In this regard, we are not unique in selling our products using an online store. Like many internet sites, we do not have a brick and mortar location for you to visit. However, you may request additional pictures of the item, email us for more detailed information or if you are in our area, request a private showing.

What is a Historical Story?

A unique historical story is attached to some of our items. A story adds a personal provenance (not necessarily documented) to a description. Stories such as the item was found during a metal detecting excursion at an old civil war battle site in West Virginia.

How do I use the navigation arrows?

The blue arrow controls are for navigating within Dietrich's Vault (DV) inventory.
If you arrived on an inventory page from the home page you can return by

  1. Using your browser's back button.
  2. Clicking on the Home button link.
  3. Clicking on the Dietrich's Vault logo in the banner.

If you arrived on an inventory page from the search function, return to the search results by using your back button. Note in some browsers you can only return one level.

What if I only want to purchase one item within this group?

You can click here to request that we open the mazine/book/issue/set (i.e. pack) to selling individual [Items] etc.. Normally we would not do this except if we feel that the price for an individual item will sell for more than the whole.

Which items from this book/issue/set/magazine (aka a pack) are included in this list?

Obviously in the case of a book or magazine, photographing every page or illustration would be time prohibitive. So we chose to include only items that we feel are of historical significance or showcase the entire pack.

What does it mean to "open" a book/issue/set/magazine (aka a pack) to sell its individual items?

If we decide to sell an individual page, issue, book etc.. apart from its containing issue, volume or set--i.e. a pack--we can turn on what is called a BUY SEPARATE INDICATOR. This indicator then displays as a button in the BUY SEPARATE COLUMN for pack displays. This is what is meant by to OPEN individual [items] for purchase. To see an example of a pack that DOES NOT have its buy separate indicator turned on click here. For an example of a product that DOES have its buy separate indicator turned on, please click here. One valid reason for offering individual items for sale apart from its pack, is when we determine an item is worth more than its containing pack. If you would like to request that we turn a pack's buy separate indicator on (or to open a pack) you may send us a request thank you.

Why do some packs have items that can be sold separately and some do not?

Depending on the value of the pack (book, magazine etc..), the individual pages or items of value would be worth more to us to sell individually. In other cases, the value of the pack is not significantly different or more than the items of value. We would actually prefer to sell a group of items or pack (magazine, book or table and chairs) together as it is less work for us and it is less expensive for you in certain cases. For example, if you purchased each item separately from a large book of famous illustrators, you would probably pay much more than you would if we were selling it as a group. Once we open a pack up for selling its individual parts, the decision is final and we cannot give you the discounted price.

How do I request that a Page Item be opened up for sale?

Contact us about opening a pack for selling its individual items of value separately. If we decide to open a pack, we will take some of these factors into consideration:

  • Does the pack have historical value as a whole apart from its individual items of value.
  • How much would we make on selling the individual items as opposed to selling the whole pack.
  • Are some items of value more saleable than others.
  • And once we start selling individual items, the entire magazine, book or other pack item, as a whole, is not saleable.

What does it mean to "open" a pack for purchasing individual items?

When a pack (a group of related items; e.g. pages in a magazine, chairs from a dining room table etc.) is "opened" this means that the individual parts (pages/chairs/articles) can be sold as separate items. A discounted price is usually assigned to the purchase of the pack as a whole but after it is “opened” the discount is lost.

What does it mean to return to a closed item, to purchase?

In some of our magazines, issues etc, sometimes we want to keep individual pages together because of the historical significance or because we feel that selling individual pages would destroy the value of the issue. You will find that purchasing the issue is usually not that much more than the cost of purchasing the invidual page.

How do you price an item?

We develop our prices using several sources. Previous auctions, web sites, trade magazines, books etc. If an item has a “poor” condition code, but yet is still “pricey” it means that the item would be considered rare and not widely available on the market. The price reflects its provenance/history, rarity and research of what other similar items are priced at in different markets/venues.

What is the total discounted price and how is it Calculated?

The discounted price is some percentage off of the total price after all items within the magazine/issue/volume/set/book (aka pack) are totaled. Among other reasons, sometimes we try to encourage the purchase of the pack because of its historical significance. Whatever the reason, you will get a much better deal if you purchase the pack at a discount, rather than purchasing the individual items separately.

What is the "hammer price"

The hammer price is the price paid for an item at auction. The name comes from the auctioneer's final asking price and is the last bid accepted. It is the point where buyer and seller’s price meets and a sale is consummated.

What is a best offer?

Not all of our products are open to price negotiations. However, when you see this icon , you can send us your best offer price and we will get back with you.

What is a Product?

Also known as an inventory item or just item. Anything with a value has a product id associated with it. This seems obvious but for the fact that on one page of a Harper's Weekly you could have a story, an illustration and an engraving--each would have a separate product id or inventory number and may be something someone is searching for.

What is a SKU?

Stocking Unit. These are numbers that we use in our warehouse to keep track of items. The SKU is the inventory number.

Are there cases where quantity on hand is more than one?

Rarely, but yes. Ephemera pack “items of value” will never have more than one item. There may be cases where we have a more than one copy of a magazine in the same condition but this is the exception rather than the rule.

What is the parent number?

The parent product ID/number designates the owner of the current product id. For example if I had a table and four chairs the parent product would be the table. Or if I had a page with three engravings (pictures) and each picture was inventoried and each inventory item had a product id, then the page would be parent to all three pictures products/inventory items.

Which attributes comprises the prodcut description field?

Attributes included in the product description are the following (separated by periods): The product name (.), the product color description (.), the product material description (.) and finally any unique characteristics of the product.

What is a Provenance?

A term used to describe the unique history that adds value to an item. A provenance is only relevant if it can be proven. For example, a handwritten note to someone in the 19th century would be worth more if you can show through a provenance (article in a newspaper, a signature) that the handwriting is that of Jesse James.

What are your return policies?

Please refer to our returns topic page for answers to frequently asked questions.

How does the system search for products and categories?

Dietrich's Vault (DV) searches the description, name, product id and stocking unit fields. A minimum and maximum number of characters are required and up to so many words or word fragments can be entered in any order. Word and character limitations are controlled by the system admin. Categories are included in the search by default. On the advanced search page you can select different search types, whether to include product pictures and whether or not to search product provenances. By default, the system searches for ALL words and word fragments. All search types execute the same searching algorithm in the category, product and if selected, provenance fields. Refer to the FAQ on what is the definition and the difference between a word and a word fragment.

Which fields are searched?

The product name, description, sku and sometimes the product id field depending on the type of search. In addition, the category name and description fields are searched and the provenance name field if selected.

What is the difference between a word and a word fragment?

A word fragment is the beginning of a word in the search fields. For example 'ant' for antique is a word fragment, but 'ique' is not considered a word fragment. Words are groups of characters with spaces or word boundaries around them.

Does the system span search fields?

Search terms cannot span the search fields. i.e., the search 'red brick antiques' will not return a row if 'red' is in the product name and 'brick antiques' is in the product description. This is not a problem since the description field contains the characters in the name field as well as additional information (see the product faq for information on what the product description field is comprised of).

How does the system perform an ALL WORD AND WORD FRAGMENTS search?

Starting in one of the search fields, the system moves from left to right testing each character for a match. All words or word fragments must be found in at least one of the search fields. For example a search using the phrase 'antiques red brick' would return rows if a search field contained all three words. And a search for 'ant re bri' would return the same number of rows (because 'ant re bri' are word fragments) but would not return 'ques red brick' because 'ques' is not a word fragment. See the FAQ for information on words and word fragments.

How does the system perform an ALL WORD BUT NO WORD FRAGMENTS search?

Starting in one of the search fields, the system moves from left to right testing each character for a match. A match occurs when all words are found in at least one of the search fields. See the FAQ for information on words and word fragments. For example a search using the phrase 'red brick antiques' would only return rows with 'red brick antiques' because all three words exist in one of the search fields. The same search would not return rows where 're bri ant' exist because these terms ARE considered word fragments.

How does the system perform an ANY WORD OR ANY WORD FRAGMENTS search?

Starting in one of the search fields, and working from left to right the system finds any of the search term characters including word fragments. For example a search using the terms 'antiques red brick' would return rows that had ANY of these words; or a search for 'ant red brick' would return the same number of rows. A search for 'ques ed rick' would not return a row because 'ques ed rick' are not considered word fragments. See the FAQ for information on words and word fragments.

How does the system perform an ANY WORD BUT NO WORD FRAGMENTS search?

Starting in one of the search fields, and working from left to right the system finds the search term characters but does NOT include word fragments. For example a search using the terms 'antiques red brick' would return rows that had ANY of these words. See the FAQ for information on words and word fragments.

How does the system perform an EXACT PHRASE search?

The system works from left to right matching characters. If a field contains more words than the search phrase, the row will NOT be retrieved. Enter exactly what it is you are searching for, or use another search if you are not sure. The exact phrase search is useful when you know the exact product id or SKU.

Search Provenances ?

Tells the search algorithms to include the provenance name in the search. A provenance defines the item's history. See the provenance FAQ for more information.

What is the search term?

The search term is a word or a series of words or word fragments in one of the search fields. Search fields include:

  • the product name and description
  • the category name and description
  • the provenance name (if checked)
  • the product sku (stocking unit number)
  • the Product ID

Show product pics in results?

Tells search to include small icon pictures with product matches only. I.e., category and provenance results will not include product pictures.

Why can I not find what I am looking for?

If you cannot find an item it doesn't mean we do not have it; more than likely, you are using keywords that do not exist in our names or descriptions. Try looking in our general categories using the sidebar OR use the advanced search options at the bottom of the search page.

Why does the number of products returned from search sometimes differ from the number of products within a category?

The search function returns rows regardless of semantic meanings. For example, a search for “E.A. Abbey” will return items that contain the famous artist and will also return item descriptions and names with “abbey” as in the word for a monastery.

What are noise words?

"Noise words" are defined as common adjectives and pronouns or words that are so common that their meanings do not contribute to the accuracy of search results. For example, a search for "history of the civil war" would not return any records because "of" and "the" are considered noise words. In order to find the item "Harper's Pictoral History of the Civil War" you should select the "exact phrase" option in the Advanced Search form.

Here is a list of all of the "noise words" contained in the Dietrich's Vault, search program:

Noise Words
  • about
  • 1
  • after
  • 2
  • all
  • also
  • 3
  • an
  • 4
  • and
  • 5
  • another
  • 6
  • any
  • 7
  • are
  • 8
  • as
  • 9
  • at
  • 0
  • be
  • $
  • because
  • been
  • before
  • being
  • between
  • both
  • but
  • by
  • came
  • can
  • come
  • could
  • did
  • do
  • does
  • each
  • else
  • for
  • from
  • get
  • got
  • has
  • had
  • he
  • have
  • her
  • here
  • him
  • himself
  • his
  • how
  • if
  • in
  • into
  • is
  • it
  • its
  • just
  • like
  • make
  • many
  • me
  • might
  • more
  • most
  • much
  • must
  • my
  • never
  • no
  • now
  • of
  • on
  • only
  • or
  • other
  • our
  • out
  • over
  • re
  • said
  • same
  • see
  • should
  • since
  • so
  • some
  • still
  • such
  • take
  • than
  • that
  • the
  • their
  • them
  • then
  • there
  • these
  • they
  • this
  • those
  • through
  • to
  • too
  • under
  • up
  • use
  • very
  • want
  • was
  • way
  • we
  • well
  • were
  • what
  • when
  • where
  • which
  • while
  • who
  • will
  • with
  • would
  • you
  • your
  • A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Again, only include these words in "exact phrase" searches.

What is shipping insurance?

Shipping insurance is a separate contract made between the customer and the shipping company. Dietrich's Vault will automatically charge a reasonable amount for insurance. However, if an item is damaged in transit, it is the customer's responsibility to handle any claims with the carrier.

Under no circumstances will Dietrich's Vault be liable for any damages, disputes or misunderstandings between customer and the shipping company.

We do everything we can to make you feel comfortable with an item's condition before we ship it.

For example, you may use our email contact form to request more pictures of an item or if you are in our area you can request a private showing. We will try to accommodate your requests as best we can. The rates we charge for shipping insurance we feel are fair and based on our own research of multiple sources. Our values are set at what we feel is the current market price.

If a package is damaged in transit, call the carrier and refer to your tracking number. Please refer to Dietrich's Vault official shipping policies.

Why is the system adding a line item for shipping insurance ?

In the antique business, it is always a safe practice to insure rare and one of a kind items as they pass through third party transit systems. You never know what is going to happen even when you mark a package FRAGILE HANDLE WITH CARE. Better safe than sorry.

As of 03/06/2010 the cost of insuring an item against most forms of abuse (refer to the individual carrier’s policies) are:

  • Orders less than $100 are insured automatically by the carrier.
  • For each $100 up to a maximum of $5,000, we charge $1
  • For easy to package items like magazines, books and other ephemera; primarily items less than 20 lbs., we handle the packaging. For glassware, porcelain and other delicate items, we let the carriers package.

What does it mean that the item is too big or fragile for in house shipping, and to contact a third party?

Items marked as "In house packing and shipping not offered" are large items such as case clocks, tables, desks, etc. (anything with oversized dimensions or over 150 lbs) we do not handle in house. You should schedule a pickup date with us OR as of 3/06/2010 we know of these packing and shipping companies:

What is a site link?

A "site link" is simply a link to another website. In this context, we require you to place our site link somewhere on your web site and in exchange we will place a link to your site on our resource page. This is an informal and friendly form of advertising that is meant to help our customers and increase one another's search engine page rankings. That is, each link back is counted as a "vote" of confidence for your site and theoretically increases your page rank for gaining a higher position in organic search results with the search engines.

How is the variant concept used?

In the original design of the aspdotnetstorefront commercial package, a variant is a pricing mechanism used to distinguish different color and size combinations. In a normal ecommerce site a shirt for example could have different prices for color and size each corresponding to a separate variant. And every product must have at least one variant. In Dietrich’s Vault, there is, only one variant. We use the condition code and create a new product id for items that are the same but have different “wear and age” characteristics.

Can the advanced inventory management features be used?

No because there is only one variant for each product in Dietrich’s Vault. Different variants are associated with different combinations of color and size. I.e., this is what the advanced inventory management feature controls. We use condition codes to distinguish one product from another.

How does the picture Views concept work with a product?

For a product/item/inventory number, there can be at most four individual pictures or views of the same inventory or product id. The first product picture, the main front view is for example 1127.jpg. The second view is 1127_1.jpg. Then there are two more views for “special” pictures. In this example, they would be 1127_2.jpg and 1127_3.jpg.

The pack concept has been heavily customized for Dietrich's Vault. Can you describe how you all customized the original concept of the pack?

Contact us and we can explain the process. Add a note for support: Refer to Limitations and Policies sheet in Design and Bug Workbook.