Understanding art: A matter of perspective

by Bennett Tiglao, Seattle Goodwill
January 13, 2017

Walton Butts ArtBy now, most of us have come across stories of people picking up bargain-basement paintings at thrift stores and garage sales only to find later that they’ve been sitting on highly valued works of art by notable artists.

While these pieces often are subjected to exhaustive verification procedures, many buyers still end up the owners of valuable paintings worth a small fortune, which is not bad considering most shoppers were just looking to find a painting to fit their living room color scheme.

Although finding a masterpiece done by an art legend is rare, finding a painting or sculpture that pleases you aesthetically for a great price is common. The value of art is completely subjective. To one individual, a piece might mean nothing, but to another it could represent a time in one’s life or trigger emotions and inspire ideas. 

Seattle Goodwill often has a healthy stream of donated art either in our stores or online. You’ll find the higher valued pieces on our eBay store and on our online store shopgoodwill.com. The pieces listed online are generally researched by our trained staff and for the most part recognized as art by notable artists.

Marc Chagall, Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso are some well-known artists who’ve had pieces pass through our donation stations. Also, here in the Northwest, we get plenty of art by local artists which is known for various art styles including native/tribal, modernism and art glass. 

Here are some tips of what to look for when art shopping:

Original artwork

Is this artwork something that the artist physically created, or is it a work made later, or an exact reproduction? Many artists would create a piece and later allow for copies to be mass-produced, typically in the form of prints. This isn’t to be confused with something that the artist has signed, which would indicate that they knew of their production.

Signed artwork.

Is there a signature somewhere on it? Signatures are usually on the lower-front corner or upper-back part of the piece. Is it signed by hand or as part of a machine process/stamp? Signatures can be hard to read. Authentication is challenging. Many 18-20th century artists produced hundreds of prints, some as part of a series or sketches and many are hand signed.

Numbered artwork.  

Is this piece one of many, but with a specific number assigned to it? Artists often produced prints of their work with limited edition runs, and each is hand-signed and numbered by the artist: #12/250, etc.


Anything created with an artistic intent could be considered art. Everyone has specific taste – make sure to separate what you like from what may or may not have high value. (For example, some artists were not particularly famous until after their death, including Vincent van Gogh.)


Is this piece odd, weird, or interesting? We get a lot of landscapes, bowls of fruit and portraits of people.

It’s not all about monetary value! If a piece still has a price tag, that is essentially a brand new price and not to account for age, artist or desirability. Sometimes pieces of low financial value have stronger historical value. Not everything in a museum is worth millions.

Sometimes great artwork has a terrible frame and sometimes bad artwork may have an amazing frame.

Period-related terms get thrown around a lot, but often are as follows:

  • Contemporary: Made today, or within the last decade or two.
  • Modern: An art movement most closely associated with 1900-1960.
  • Post-modern: An art movement most closely associated with 1960/70-2000.
  • Vintage: 20+ years old (pre-1997) usually 1920-1990’s.
  • Antique: 100+ years old (approx.).
  • Retro: Anything in the past, typically associated with style pre-1990
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How 140 Characters Benefited Goodwill

by Kim Merrikin, Seattle Goodwill
January 10, 2017

At Seattle Goodwill, about 3% of all donated goods wind up in our online stores—including eBay, Amazon, shopgoodwill.com, and Etsy. Like our 24 brick and mortar stores, the proceeds from our online sales fund our job training and education programs.

XBox Launch Team GiftThat’s why we were elated last month when we saw a seemingly random user tweeted a link to this item in our eBay store, noted that he had bid $1,000, and invited others to outbid him to support Seattle Goodwill. Quite frankly, we had no idea who he wasor why he was inciting a bidding war—but we were excited for the support! Even $1,000 goes a long way to help our students. That’s enough to give 20 students a voucher to purchase clothing for a job interview, or 100 students emergency food cards when they’re struggling to feed their families, or cover the transportation costs for six students while they attend one of our 8-week programs.

The original tweeter, who raised the bid to $1,000 was Seamus Blackley, “the father of the Xbox”—who told us, “I’m the guy who had an idea on an airplane and wrote the initial proposal for Xbox. Back then we called it the DirectX Box because Direct X was a multimedia technology that Microsoft was trying to popularize. I was a new hire who had come from the games industry as a creative person, so it was a big switch. I ended up spearheading the project.”

The item, listed as “Microsoft Xbox Light-Up Weighted Desk Décor X Model Sculpture Weight Gray Silver,” was a launch gift, given only to the team members on the original Xbox project. “They are miniature versions of the Xbox prototype/demo units that me and a few friends hand built at the start of the project. The shape became iconic inside (and apparently outside) the team,” explained Blackley.

A twitter friend had pointed out the item on Seattle Goodwill’s eBay auction site, and Blackley, familiar with the work Goodwill does in the Seattle community, realized “it was obvious that it was a chance to help [Seattle Goodwill] out.” Ultimately the Xbox launch gift sold to Blackley for $3,060—a major contribution for our job training and education programs.

Once he won the item, he immediately donated it to Ryan McCaffrey, the Executive Editor at IGN, a game news site, who hosts Podcast Unlocked, the #1 Xbox show on the internet—the Xbox launch team gift was featured as a giveaway on episode 277 of the podcast and one lucky podcast listener will get to keep this piece of Xbox history.

When asked why he supports Goodwill, Blackley answered, “Because the way you handle helping people in need is by empowering them. I love that message and method. Please keep doing what you’re doing.”

THANK YOU, Seamus, for your generous support of our mission! 

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Top comic books through the ages

by Andrew Lang, Seattle Goodwill
January 6, 2017

Comic BooksAmerican comics have come a long way since being introduced to the U.S. in the 1930s. Originally made to help sell newspaper copies, comic strips have evolved into comic books and full-fledged Hollywood movie features have been paramount into defining popular culture through the superheroes they’ve spawned.

Since 2012, seven comic book-based movies have ranked among the top five yearly grossing movies in the U.S. That should prove something about comic book culture and today’s popularity of superheroes.

And while movie makers have extracted content from comic books for film usage, movies and the marketing that goes into major films has driven more fans back to comic books.

Seattle Goodwill offers a wealth of new, old and highly collectible comic books on our online and eBay store.

With so many comic books made during the past 80 years, what should new collectors look for when hunting for valuable comics? Here is a list of top selections broken down by comic book eras:

The Golden Age (1938-1949): Funnies on Parade, published in 1933, is widely regarded as the first ever comic book. It was mainly a collection of newspaper strip reprints. But what catapulted comics into mainstream was the publishing of Action Comics No. 1, which introduced the U.S. to Superman himself. Here are some of the era’s most valuable comics:

  1. Action Comics No. 1 (June 1938)
  2. Detective Comics No. 27 (May 1939)
  3. Superman No. 1 (June 1939)
  4. Batman No. 1 (April 1940)
  5. All-American Comics No. 16 (July 1940)

The Silver Age (1956-1970): With the comic book landscape not looking good, many superheroes were reborn and modernized, which led to a rebirth of sorts within the popularity of comics. Marvel created the Fantastic Four and added mainstream heroes such as Spider-Man, Thor, Hulk, Iron Man and the X-Men. Here are some of the era’s most valuable comics:

  1. Amazing Fantasy No. 15 (August 1962)
  2. Fantastic Four No. 1 (November 1961)
  3. X-Men No. 1 (September 1963)
  4. Tales of Suspense No. 39 (March 1963)
  5. The Avengers No. 1 (September 1963)

The Bronze Age (1970-1980): This new era of comics ushered in new creators, and comic book heroes began questioning their own motivations, exploring topics from Vietnam, to drug abuse, pollution, racism and poverty. The Green Lantern and Green Arrow were big and so were household names such as Spider-Man. Here are some of the era’s most valuable comics:

  1. Green Lantern No. 76 (April 1970)
  2. Star Wars No. 1 (1977)
  3. Incredible Hulk No. 181 (November 1974)
  4. X-Men No. 94 (August 1975)
  5. Giant-Size X-Men No. 1 (July 1975)

The Modern Age (1980-Present): There have been a lot of ups and downs for comics during this age. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were a large hit, but the industry struggled as the end of the century saw the rise of paperbacks. This changed how comic books were packaged and marketed. One of the biggest hits or the era was the Watchmen. Here are some of the era’s most valuable comics:

  1. The Walking Dead No. 1 (October 2003)
  2. Bone No. 1 (1991)
  3. Spawn No. 185 (2008)
  4. The Walking Dead No. 27  (2003)
  5. The Maxx Ashcan (1993)

Seattle Goodwill’s Online stores sell individual comics and various themed lots. When you purchase from Goodwill, you’re helping create jobs by supporting of our Job Training and Education programs.

*Comic book information obtained from www.sellmycomicbooks.com and www.heritagestatic.com.

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5 New Year Resolutions Goodwill can help you keep

by Kim Merrikin, Seattle Goodwill
January 1, 2017

5 New Year Resolutions Goodwill can help you keepIt’s the first day of a new year, and we have high hopes for your 2017!

Starting afresh in the New Year is an excellent feeling—with the renewed commitments to health, happiness, success, and the pursuit thereof. Now is the time that many choose to make changes in their lives—and we can help with some of the most common New Year Resolutions:

For those who resolve to reduce their eco-footprint:
Start your journey toward sustainability by checking out some of the ways Goodwill contributes to a more eco-friendly community. Not only did we keep over 60 million pounds of material waste out of landfills in 2016, but we also enable our community to make eco-conscious consumer decisions in regards to how they dispose of still-usable materials—and help reduce the need for new goods.

For those who resolve to be healthier:
Whether you’re looking to make changes to your diet, add more activity and exercising to your routine, or both—you’ll find what you need in our stores. From health-focused cookbooks and kitchenware, to athletic attire and workout gear, Goodwill is an excellent place to find quality goods at an affordable price. Protip: Looking for high-end kitchen appliances? Check our online stores.

For those who resolve to spend less, and save more:
Living in the greater Seattle area can be expensive—and shopping thrift can help save some of those hard-earned dollars! With a few exceptions, if there’s something you need, you can probably find it at Goodwill—home goods, clothing, décor, athletic gear, toys—the list goes on! Not only do we have a little of everything—but it’s easy to find high-quality name brands at a fraction of retail prices.

For those who resolve to get organized:
Goodwill can help those of you looking to get organized in multiple ways; shed your excess clutter at a Goodwill donation site, and pick up new ways to organize—like filing cabinets and storage bins—at a nearby Goodwill store. Don’t know where to start the process? Hit up our books department for some books like Marie Kondo’s The Life-changing Magic of Tidying, or visit our Cleaning & Organizing blog category for some tips.

For those who resolve to help improve their community:
Goodwill has many ways you can personally get involved in positively impacting our community through job training and education—and even a number of ways your company can get involved. By donating materials, giving financially, or shopping—you’re helping us fund the programs that we offer  at nine job training and education centers throughout the region free of charge to our students. We also have hundreds of volunteer opportunities every year, for individuals and corporate groups. You can be a single-day event volunteer, or a regular volunteer working with our students. Your company can also get involved by hiring our work-ready students.

Last year, thanks to supporters like you, we helped over 9,700 individuals right here in our region. No matter how you choose to support Goodwill with your New Year Resolutions, ultimately, you’re helping make an impact for our students, their families, and our community. Thank you for your support last year—and we look forward to being a part of your 2017!

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Video game consoles come full circle

by Bennett Tiglao, Seattle Goodwill
December 30, 2016

Nintendo NESNintendo had exceeded expectations of their recently released NES Classic Edition Mini before this holiday season even got started. Complete with 30 games from Mario to Metroid, the Japanese gaming giant has found itself with one of this year’s most highly sought after gifts. 

The console was on everyone’s list with its friendly $60 price tag. In early November the Redmond-based gaming company sold out of its new “retro” console days after its release.

If you weren’t fortunate enough to get one, Seattle Goodwill’s online eBay store and ShopGoodwill.com has a steady stream of the classic gaming consoles along with more recent ones, too. 

Classic consoles such as the Atari 2600, the Nintendo NES and the first PlayStation regularly come through our online auctions and usually come complete with controllers, cables and games. We even see Xbox Ones and PS4s since both have recently released newer versions for the holidays.

With the new year days away, it’s the perfect time to clean out the closet and donate old electronics to Seattle Goodwill. Did you get a new gaming system for Christmas? Make a donation, and proceeds from the sale go to directly fund our free Job Training and Education Programs.

Seattle Goodwill properly recycles all electronics that aren’t sold, and even takes the time to wipe clean computer hard drives before resell to protect the privacy of our donors.

Gaming systems have undergone many transformations throughout the years. Check out the industry’s evolution below:

  • Atari 2600 (1977) – The first true mainstream home console. The foundation of all gaming which sought to bring the arcade experience into the home.
  • Nintendo NES (1983) - Iconic franchises like Mario and Zelda became the standard for all game systems to follow.
  • Sega Genesis (1988) – Leaning toward more mature games like the arcade classic Mortal Kombat, this system targeted older audiences.
  • Nintendo SNES (1990) –SNES game library consisted of incredible original RPG and fighting games, innovated the six-button controller.
  • Sony PlayStation (1994) – The graphics and deeper content set this console ahead of the competition and standardized the CD format of today’s games.
  • Nintendo 64 (1996) – Innovated standard features such as Rumble, four-player local gaming and analog control.
  • Sony PlayStation 2 (2000) – The best-selling video game console of all time. HUGE selection of games that catered to a wide range of gamers.
  • XBOX 360 (2005) – Despite the infamous Red Ring of Death, the 360 refined online gaming, introduced achievements, wireless technology, a hard drive and voice communication.
  • Nintendo Wii (2006) The Wii arrived to become a system found in the home of non-gamers and gamers alike, appealing to all ages.

One aspect of the Pacific Northwest that is overlooked is the budding gaming scene. From Microsoft to Nintendo, all the way down to the countless indie companies, Seattle is full of developers and designers putting out title after title.

In fact, the Emerald City has the largest concentration of game developers in the U.S. (some say it’s due to all the rain).

Thus, we see an abundance of gaming hardware donations. Whether you’re looking to complete your collection of vintage-game consoles, find custom designed gameware, huge lots of video games for resale or you’re simply looking for a great deal on a console that plays Blu-ray and streams Netflix, Seattle Goodwill has you covered.

Pro gaming tips

  • Clean your controllers: Residue from hours of sweat, spilled sodas and overall grime from dirty hands make your controller sticky and unresponsive. Use baby wipes, rubbing alcohol, Q-Tips, cotton swabs or toothpicks (for finer detailing)
  • Check for the right connections: Many of the older consoles were made in the age of cathode ray tube (CRT) TVs, and today’s LCD and Plasma TVs don’t have the right connections required for our beloved old-school gaming consoles. You’ll need a converter or adapter that will connect to a part your TV has. Many adapters on the market exist, and Seattle Goodwill frequently receives them through our donation stations. 
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