Firstly you may think this guide is somewhat biased given that it is a guide on buying Shark collectibles written by a business that sells shark collectibles. However this guide is aimed at helping you find the correct products and what to watch out for. We are not simply guiding you to buy our products but are helping you to consider a few things first.
To begin with, what shark products can you buy?
The most common products bought by collectors and enthusiasts of Sharks are teeth and jaws. We will look at teeth first.
Shark teeth vary immensly in price. They can be purchased from as little as a few pence ( or cents) up to thousands of pounds (dollars). The price is dictated by the following:
1) The species (is the shark common, rare, or even protected)
2) The size
3) The condition - is the tip missing or has the enamel come loose? Is it from the front row of teeth or is it an underdeveloped 6ths row tooth?
These three things are what determine the price and sellers should always comment on all three of these. If they don't, then the question should be asked why? It may simply have been scanned over, so you should contact the seller to ask, but remember, always use the ebay 'ask seller a question' tab for more security and relaiability on your answers.
In regards to point one, an example of a tooth that sells for a lot of money is the Great White. This is for a few reasons, firstly, the great white is protected in most countries and is relatively rare. Secondly it is probably the most popular shark and stars in various movies. Thirdly it is a beautiful tooth and is triangular, the way many people percieve all shark teeth to be. One thing to look out for with great white teeth is which row it is from. A front row tooth is worth a lot of money. Some people sell teeth from the back rows without commenting on which row, but the further back you go, the thinner the enamel is and less developed the tooth is - be careful on how much you are paying without knowing this. There are many other shark teeth, such as the Mako and Tiger shark which have valuable teeth, and then the more common and less desirable (and so less money) such as lower white tip teeth.
The size also has a very big bearing on price. Naturally the larger the tooth the more rare these are, and hence the price increases. Remember though, size isn't everything - some teeth are very very small, but becuase they are from an incredibly rare shark, the price can be very high. Teeth which are near record size for a species can increase drastically even if there is 1/8th of an inch difference between it and the next size down. At the time of writing this, we had (and may still have) a 1.512 inch Tiger shark tooth. These teeth are so exceptionally rare, the price for this one tooth is £260 (and would be even more if there was no enamel loosening). So, on ebay, there may seem to be huge differences in price between shark teeth even when there is only 1/8ths of an inch difference, so consider these points as to why the price difference - you may be looking at a 'one off' tooth.
The condition of shark teeth is everything. A badly formed tooth with thin or chipped enamel knocks the price right down - but beware of sellers who list generic photos and do not comment on condition - you're better off paying that few extra pounds more from a trusted seller with exceptional feedback than taking the risk, or at least ensure they have a quibble free return policy. You can usually tell a lot from a photo, but with teeth, due to their size, the fine detail cannot always be seen.
If you follow these guidelines, you should be satisfied every time - and remember (time for my plug) we always let our customers know the quality of the items they are buying, and if you're standard is higher than our already very high standard, and wish to return your item, then no problem - send it back and get a full refund.
Now, moving on to jaws. Jaws have the same points to look out for as teeth, however there are a few extra things to look out for. We'll start with size. Shark jaws are cartilage as opposed to bone. When fresh they are maleable and can be put into almost any shape. They are then (or should be) well cleaned with all bits of flesh removed, and bleached. The jaw is then set in the desired position and dried making the jaw hard and rigid. As price increases with size, many jaws get stretched out of the natural 3D shape into a flat 2d shape. This makes them wider and increases the price - or does it? An overstretched jaw looks unatural and the width to height ratio causes the jaw to lose its appeal. There is nothing wrong with jaws being strethced (probably the wrong word, but rather opened along the horizontal axis) to make it an easier piece to display or hang on the wall, but it is when the jaw almost looks closed because it has been stretched passed an unacceptable point. Generally if the jaw looks nice then it hasn't been opend horizontally too much. If a jaw is advertised as 20 Inches wide, but looks shut, then this has been stretched too much possibly from an original jaw size of only 14-15 Inches. This means you could be paying far too much as when jaws reach the 20 Inch mark they tend to rise in price considerably.
Secondly there is species, which is the same as with teeth, no need to make any more comments there.
Lastly the condition is probably the most important. We recently purchased from our supplier a 19 Inch Longfin Mako Jaw. These have a very high retail price as they are much rarer than the shortfin mako and also because it was a large 19 inch (unstretched jaw - about 25 inches if it had been strethched reasonably). However, when we got the jaw, there was a terrible smell - rot. The jaw had obviuosly sustained some rotting and had tried to be bleached and prevented, however the smell just remained. A jaw that has rotted in the past is also very brittle. The price we purchased the jaw was significant, however we only offer quality jaws and because ebayers cannot see smell, we decided to destroy it. This was a significant financial loss, but at the end of it all, our customers our happy and so we are. I have mentioned this because unfortunately not all sellers are as honest or caring about the jaws they sell. In a photo this jaw looked fantastic (that's why we purchased it) but in reality it was good for nothing, and certainly far too smelly to keep anywhere indoors. So when buying jaws, don't just look at the photos - ask the seller a question or read their description to ensure that a jaw is not rotten. Buy from sellers with a good track record. Something that can usually be picked up on visually is yellowing of a jaw. A jaw that is very yellow can be caused from one of three things; insufficiently stripped back; age (since death); and non-professionally cleaned (not bleached etc). A yellowed jaw isn't always a bad thing, however clean white jaws are always far nicer. Just make sure you are aware of this. A well clenaed jaw will sell for more as it is more attractive and also because more work has gone into its preperation.
Follow the points and make well calculated decisions on whether to buy or not.
Taking time to read a sellers feedback is always a good step, don't just look at the score or feedback number!
Thank you for reading and enjoy bidding.