How can you find someone that has an item that has historical significance to your family? I know I always wanted to have some small physical piece of my family history so I kept doing searches on Ebay, hoping some elusive object would come up.
One item I tracked down was a personal journal written in the late 1800s. I looked up the name on Rootsweb and found someone that had this person in their family tree. I let them know about the item being auctioned off. They put in a small bid but didn't think the person was connected that closely to them. If I found a journal written by my direct ancestor, I know I'd be willing to spend way too much on it.
One thing I always searched for was a Panther Dairy milk bottle cap. It's not from my direct ancestor but the dairy was owned by my grandfather's brother. Last month, I finally found one! I bid $5 for it and once postage and handling was included I ended up paying $6 for it.
Another thing I found was an old 1926 phone book containing the names of many of my relations in southeast Iowa:
Just go to www.ebay.com and do a search for a family name and where you'd expect to find something from them. You never know what you might find. It could be a marketing device (pen, calendar etc) from a family business or a receipt printed with the business name. You might find envelopes or even full letters written to or by them. Or, something I'd love to track down, an old family bible with family tree information written in it.