Category Archives: Ebay

eBay Excitement!

I dropped Julia off at work etc…

(You can probably write that bit of the post for me.)

…turned on the computer, which refused to cooperate.

So I turned on the other computer and set to work. I had most of the parcels packed before anyone else arrive, at which point we had a look at the computer again, interrogated the internet and found that the pattern of pulsing lights indicate a problem with the power supply. This is what happens when you work with old, second-hand equipment.

However, this wasn’t the excitement.

Flying Horse of Gansu medallion & leaflet

Flying Horse of Gansu medallion & leaflet

We had a very nice horse medallion in auction on eBay. When we first put it on we had an email from somebody asking if they could buy it there and then, which is generally a good sign. We, of course refused, because we don’t do that – it is unfair to other bidders and it drives me mad when it happens. But partly it’s due to the fact that they never want to offer enough – they are just trying to avoid competing with others. Weonce turned down an offer of £250 for something that eventually sold for £75, but generally we don’t lose out, and we keep our integrity.

Normally, however, we turn down the offers and the bids keep rolling in.

On Saturday it had been around £50, by this morning it was £150 and by lunchtime it had climbed to £250.

Things were looking good.

It is, to be fair an exceptional medallion. The horse is well-modelled, in what I consider to be classic Chinese style, the lettering is high and crisp and the whole thing just oozed quality. Research indicates that the horse is the Flying Horse of Gansu. I knew the sculpture, but until then I didn’t know the name or the story. It was exhibited around the world in the 1970s but subsequent legislation prevents it from being taken outside mainland China.

Flying Horse of Gansu medallion - obverse

Flying Horse of Gansu medallion – obverse

It came in the original box with paperwork and was made by Toye, Kenning and Spencer, who are one of the classic medallists. Even so, this was probably the best of their work I have ever seen.

In addition, it had a beautiful coloured tone where the silver had oxidised and was one of a limited run of just 2,000 medals. (Dealer’s note – when it enhances a medallion, or you are selling you call it tone or patina, when it is unpleasant, or when you are buying, you call it tarnish.)

Finally, the icing on the cake, it was to commemorate the Chinese Exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1973. The Chinese love good quality medallions, and they also like to buy items which have links to Chinese culture.so all in all we were hoping for great things.

The bidder who had made the running all week was finally outbid at £305 with an hour to go. There was a flurry of bidding which took it up close to £380 with eight minutes to go, but as I said, whilst sitting on the edge of my seat, the serious bidders don’t bid with eight minutes to go.

Serious bidders, like me, use automated auction sniper programmes which bid with only seconds remaining.

Sure enough, as the sale closed, there was a sudden rise in price and the screen faded. That’s when they transfer the details from being an auction to being sold. It is slightly annoying as a seller when this happens. It doesn’t seem to happen when you are a buyer  – the numbers may whizz round but you don’t have to change screens to find them again.

Final price – £511.

Quite an exciting day.

After that we might be able to afford the repairs to my computer.

Flying Horse of Gansu medallion -reverse

Flying Horse of Gansu medallion – reverse

Like Work, but More Fun

We had a busy day today – the phone kept ringing, people kept visiting (with and without appointments) and though we only had two orders on eBay overnight, we had six more come in during the day. We also managed to load three lots onto eBay.

It’s just like being at work, but more fun.

When I returned home my first impression was of lemon-scented hygiene. Julia had clearly been cleaning.

She had also been cooking. We had two apple crumbles and a plum tart. The plums are from our own tree, which has been very prolific this year. The apples are from the Mencap garden and the garden of one of the neighbours. It’s always satisfying to use the garden produce. It’s just a shame that it’s over so soon. We really ought to plan the garden better, but we never quite get round to it. We’ve had plenty of courgettes this year and the baskets of tumbling tomatoes are doing well.

She also managed to cook an excellent meal of marinaded chicken, rice with fruit and nuts and green salad with tomatoes from the garden.

Whilst doing that she caught the knife block with her elbow and was momentarily the middle of a cloud of flying knives. Not quite The House of Flying Daggers, but as close as we are likely to get.

Fortunately she survived unperforated.

1997 Silver Dollar

1997 Silver Dollar

I took photos of a group 1921 pennies for eBay, a silver dollar and a papal visit medallion. While I was photographing the medallion I decided it would look good on my collection.

It doesn’t really fit in to my collection, but collectors can always find an excuse. It is an exceptionally nice medallion. with good portraits and excellent relief. And yes, now you come to ask, Newman really did, according to all his portraits, have a nose that size.

The 1921 pennies will come into their own next year – people always seem to like centenaries for souvenirs or party favours. The things that people buy are an interesting subject.

Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI

Cardinal Newman

Cardinal Newman

 

Vexed! And a Space-Filler Post

The planned post for the day was Scone Chronicles 33, and it actually had scones in it. I had done about 75% of it before I broke to make tea (corned beef hash with red cabbage, in case future researchers wonder what it was). When I looked for my camera to load the pictures after eating, I found that I must have left it at work again. I am quite annoyed with myself.

I am therefore going to write a blog around the recent photos that I have on the other camera. First I will have to check what they are, as I can’t remember what they are.

It’s not looking promising.

There are pictures of the Peace and Tribute medals which I’m going to use for my talk at the Numismatic Society, which is, as yet, amorphous and coming up in four weeks.

There are banknotes from the shop, some modern collectible coins and some “evasions”. Evasions are interesting to students of coins, Georgian history and crime. And Americans. A lot of them were used, and even made, in America until the emerging state got its coinage sorted out. I say “interesting”. If brass, rubbing, train spotting and collecting matchbox labels are interesting…well, you get the picture.

In the eighteenth century there was a shortage of small change for everyday transactions. The gap was filled by tradesmen who issued their own tokens, forgers and makers of evasions, which fill a gap between the two. This is one of ours on eBay. They were made to look worn so they blended in better, so this is actually quite a good example.

An evasion is a coin made to look like a coin, but with some very unsubtle differences – it may have King Alfred or another figure on it, it may be mispelled and it may bear a date on which no coins were minted. It will, however, have a head on the front, looking vaguely king-like, and it will have Britannia or a harp on the back. In other words, it is meant to deceive, but be an obvious fake when examined. And, as an obvious fake, it isn’t legally a forgery.

When you consider that the punishment for forgery was hanging for men, and burning at the stake for women, you cans see that this was an important distinction.

The last woman to be burned at the stake in Britain, was Catherine Murphy, executed in 1789 for coining. Her husband was hanged for coining that same morning. By that time the burning was mainly symbolic as the victims were usually hanged or strangled before the fire was lit. This must have been of small comfort.

Despite popular culture shouting “Burn her, she’s a witch!” the English never burned witches. We hanged them. The last witch burned in Scotland was in 1727. I’m sure that whether they died by hanging or burning, witches must have felt hard done by, seeing as witchcraft didn’t really exist.

The last woman imprisoned for witchcraft in the UK was Helen Duncan, who claimed to have had contact with dead sailors and to know that HMS Barham had been sunk before it was officially announced. She was jailed in 1944 under the provisions of the Witchcraft Act of 1735. This, to be fair, wasn’t a case about witchcraft but about wartime censorship and a fraudulent medium claiming to be in touch with dead servicemen.

They may look like worn out copper discs, but coins can be quite interesting.

A Look at the Coin Business

This is a £20 coin from Gibraltar. The £20 is an unusual denomination which some countries, including the UK, have started using for commemorative coins. You can’t spend it, because nobody will accept it, but they can charge quite a high price for it because of the face value. The silver is worth about £6 and the collectable value is not great in most cases.

It is, in short, a bit of a rip-off.

Don’t be fooled about the legal tender aspect, when you look into it the definition of legal tender is very tightly drawn. It appears that legal tender can be used to pay court costs and fines, but nothing else. Nobody else needs to accept it, even if it is legal tender.

This basically means that the Royal Mint can make coins which don’t have to be taken back. We encountered this problem recently when we tried to pay some £5 coins in at the bank. They informed us that they no longer take them. Normally we pay £5 for a UK coin and most of them go straight to the bank as nobody collects them. We can’t do that now, so we can’t pay £5. People, quite rightly, don’t like that. We now tell them to try their bank or post office to see if they are still taking them.

The same is true for £20 and £100 coins, though as far as we know, no bank or post office will take them. We actually sell £100 coins for less than face value at times. It’s a ridiculous side effect of the modern coin trade. Read this article for an insight into what goes on, but before you do, may I just add to the information they provide. If you sell a £100 coin on eBay for £130 as they say, you will pay eBay and PayPal approximately 15% of the cost in fees, so the £130 immediately falls to £115.

Buy coins because they are beautiful, historical, interesting or educational. Or buy them as a present for future generations. If you want an investment ask a bank manager about it, not a numismatist.

This is the reverse of the Gibraltar coin, which is a lovely design. It commemorates the efforts of the Merchant Navy in the Battle of the Atlantic.

Gibraltar £20 Coin 2016

Gibraltar £20 Coin 2016

Here’s the best value £100 coin on eBay with a Buy it Now offer of £69.99. I just checked all the ones that sold over the last month. There were 12 sold. One made £140. The other eleven all made less than face value.

There is something called seigniorage, which I don’t understand completely. It’s a branch of Economics, which is also something I struggle to grasp. Basically, if it costs the US Mint five cents to produce a quarter they make twenty cents every time someone puts a quarter in their collection. If you produce collectable quarters, such as the State Quarters Series, this can add up. In fact, it adds up to $3 billion. The USA is the best at this, but the Royal Mint is making a big effort to get a piece of the action.

Tomorrow I am planning two more posts, one of which will be to tell you more about this Gibraltar £20 coin. It is very interesting.

 

 

Told by an Idiot…

Sorry about yesterday’s short post, it was cold, I was under the weather and I left myself short of time.

Today it has warmed up a bit and I have more time so I’m hoping this post will be a little longer. I’m still on a light diet but I’m hoping to be back to normal by Monday. It’s nothing serious, and, being digestive, it’s not something you want me writing about in detail.

And, as I sit in the shop hunched over my keyboard and chewing on medication, this is what I’ve been putting on eBay.

Before I get into my stride I’d like to say that if Kylie the Koala and Kenny the Kangaroo were soft toys, fridge magnets or even medallions, I’d think they were a bit of fun, and a nice touch of laid back Australian humour.

But they aren’t, they are on coins.

I’m out of step with modern coins and that these fill a niche in the modern market. I’m not going to run them down, or criticise the people who collect them because all collecting, in my view, is good for the brain, and possibly for the soul. But for £12.95, which is what one of these would cost you, you can get a lot more for your money.

You could buy a delightful 1940 wren farthing with traces of original lustre – this is the year that Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain took place. It’s historical and it’s not easy to find in  this condition, and the beauty of the design (one of my favourite British coin designs) relies on simplicity and elegance, not a big splash of colour. It will cost you £3.25.

For £3.99 you can buy a Picturegoer postcard of a screen star from the days when they really were stars.

If Edward VIII is your cup of tea (as in doomed romantic hero or Nazi-loving playboy, I make no judgement, it’s your money) we have a selection of coronation badges around £6.95. They aren’t rare because they made a lot before they knew the coronation was cancelled.

A very nice, lightly circulated 1950s £1 note could be yours for £11.50. We have a lot of banknotes in the shop because the other two both collect them and are keen members of the local banknote society. That’s the nice thing about a shop like this – you’d never go into a shop to buy bread or toothpaste and be engaged in conversation about them, or be invited to join then relevant society, would you?

Finally, if you can stretch to £19 we can provide you with a rather nice George III Halfpenny of 1806. That’s right, he was mad, he was an Elector of the Holy Roman Empire and he lost America, all that history for just £19.

As for this, you’d think that a manufacturer of hugely successful Formula 1 cars and iconic sports cars would be above this sort of thing.

I know there are worse things happening in the world, but what were Ferrari thinking off?

And who thought it was OK to put lipstick on a Koala?

And finally, a quote from Macbeth –

It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

It explains the title and leads into today’s poem. I often quote the first four lines to Julia. One day I’ll try to learn the other ten. I really ought to do it soon before senility sets in.

Senior Moments and Postal Problems

I’m not currently at my best. If I tell you that I went through most of the day under the impression that it was Tuesday you may get some idea of the impairment suffered by my softening brain.

This was despite the fact I knew the car had gone away on Wednesday, which was yesterday. A simple process of deduction could have told me that it was Thursday today but I managed to miss out on that basic step.

This morning I managed to do the parcels on my own as the owner sorted a big trade order, and when it came time to get the parcels to the post office he noticed that I’d stamped several parcels up with the right stamps for Special Delivery but had stuck the labels for Signed For delivery on them.

That looks very inelegant – Special Delivery, I can just about live with, though the old name Registered didn’t, in my opinion, need changing. But Signed For sounds like an incomplete phrase rather than a description of a postal service. It was better when it was called Recorded Delivery.

In an ideal world you wouldn’t need this sort of postal service. Unfortunately there are so many thieves, liars and idiots on eBay that we need to use it to protect ourselves.

The normal problem is that somebody gets in touch a couple of weeks after you post something and says it wasn’t delivered.

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Stamps, stamps, stamps 

We then go on the Royal Mail site and put in the tracking number. Normally it shows that the post office tried to deliver it and, as nobody was there, put a card through the letter box telling the addressee to go and pick it up or arrange to have it delivered again when they will be in.

Unfortunately people don’t always see the bright red card. They also often seem to think it’s my job to arrange the redelivery for them, even though I don’t know when they will be in.

Some, even though it’s been signed for, insist that it hasn’t been delivered and tell us they want another parcel sending free of charge.It is possible that someone has signed for it fraudulently, but again, that really isn’t my problem.

One man actually accused us of knowing when it would be delivered and driving up to Scotland to sign for it and steal it. We were tactful, because he clearly had more problems than missing post.

It’s not even as if it was a sustainable business model…

And at that point, having established that some people have worse senior moments that I do, I will sign off.

 

 

Saturday and Some eBay Bits

Saturday already.

I don’t know where the days go. It’s already 10.24 and I’m only just starting the real work of the day.

Julia and I had breakfast at McDonald’s this morning (it’s our equivalent of a social life) before I went to the shop and she went to the gym. She also shopped, went to the park and cooked tea. Whilst in the park, she attended an event and inveigled an invitation for her garden group to go to the park and work in the Tropical House for some of the coldest days.

Meanwhile, I sat in the back room of the shop, cut off from natural light, and worked away. Apart from an hour or so in the afternoon when I spent it talking to a customer who came in. We covered rhubarb, medals and metal detecting. He dug up a cut half penny and a Roman coin last week. He also showed us a picture of a coin that he saw dug up. Someone was walking towards him in the field to ask how he was doing and while they were still about ten yards away they stopped and started digging…

… producing a gold Celtic Stater.

It’s amazing what you can find in fields, particularly with modern machines, and a full day spent walking in ploughed fields.

I put a nice 1920s Scout badge, a medallion commemorating us joining the EEC in 1973 – quite topical and popular these days- and a medal commemorating the Chilwell Shell Filling Factory and Ordnance depot. It’s still running as Chetwynd Barracks but is due for closure in 2024. I bet they don’t do a medal for that.

I keep saying I’ll do a post on Chilwell and its medals, but I never do. Must try harder. In fact I must start a list and get through some jobs.

That’s about it for now – I’m off to write that list.

Freddie Mercury – Stamp Collector

A couple of days ago I was entering Philatelic Numismatic Covers (PNCs) on our eBay site. They are generally dull, boring, difficult to pack and hard to enthuse about. They are the bastard offshoot of the combined imaginations of the low-lives who make a living from selling brightly packaged, expensive and tawdry stamps and coins. In this case they have come together to produce a coin/stamp combo, which, to my mind, offers little to a collector of either.

It’s an interesting keepsake, but that’s all. Unfortunately they are marketed aggressively and often sold for what I consider unreasonably high prices.

If either of my children came home and told me that that he had taken up employment with one of the marketing companies responsible for these abominations I’m not sure what I’d do. I’d certainly hide the fact from my neighbours and claim they were an estate agent, people trafficker, or even a politician,  rather than admit the horrible truth.

Anyway, there I was, with a heap of dispiriting detritus on my desk, trying to put a brave face on it, when I noticed  a familiar name on one of the covers – Bulsara.

As you may know, I am a great accumulator of useless trivia.

One thing I know is that the family name of Freddie Mercury was Bulsara.

It took me a few minutes but I was able to tie the evidence together.

There’s a picture on Freddie Mercury’s Wikipedia page showing the blue plaque on his childhood London home, with the caption “English Heritage blue plaque at 22 Gladstone Avenue, Feltham, London”

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I rest my case…

So this is indeed a PNC addressed to a Mr Bulsara at the home address of the Bulsara/Mercury family.

How good is that?

I managed to piece together some other information – Stanley Gibbons, the famous stamp dealer, have something about B. R. Bulsara, father of Freddie Mercury, and his stamp collecting. Young Freddie, it seems, had a stamp collection in his youth.

Eventually his father sold his collection, and Freddie’s collection, to raise funds for the Mercury Phoenix Trust.

I even found out that Freddie Mercury’s sister lived in Sherwood, and he used to visit her. I’ve lived in Sherwood over 30 years and I never knew that.

So there you go, it’s not the greatest piece of rock memorabilia, and Freddie Mercury may never have seen it, but it did lead me into some interesting new areas and help me add to my accumulation of trivia. I can’t help wondering what would have happened if he’d lived long enough to start collecting stamps again, once the lure of sex and drugs and Rock and Roll faded and he started looking for something more fulfilling in his later years.

It’s here on eBay if you want to look. The appalling title is by the owner of the shop who has, in my personal opinion, the wrong idea about titles. He just loves to cram the title bar with what he considers important words. The concepts of less being more, syntax and elegance of language have little place in his life. However, the concept of him paying my wages does have quite a large place in my life so I write what I’m told.

In other words, don’t blame me for the bloody awful title.

You can, however, blame me for everything else, including the inclusion of the Queen song titles. I have no shame when it comes to trying to make things sound interesting, and trying to make silk purses out of a pig’s ear.

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1986 Commonwealth Games Commemorative £2 coin

 

Hoverflies and Broken Dreams

Subtitle: Poppies, Pollinators and Parcels.

I was torn between the two titles, but went for the bleaker one because I’m a shameless attention seeker.

I walked in to work this morning and found we had sixteen parcels to pack, It doesn’t seem much to do in three hours, though it’s probably fair to say that after seeing a couple of customers and queuing at the Post Office we had two and a half hours of packing. Or five hours, seeing as there were two of us.

That’s about twenty minutes per parcel, which seems OK, though when you have 100 loose coins to pack into a non-rattling parcel it can take a bit of time.

Part of the problem is that we have over two thousand items of stock on eBay and not enough storage space. We can locate 95% of the stock with ease, but we have to pack and repack the cupboards each time, which is time consuming, and the system is starting to creak.

To be fair, the cupboards are starting to creak too and I’m beginning to worry about being crushed to death in a cascade of coins and shattered woodwork. And shattered dreams. It was never meant to end like this…

Despite the somewhat gloomy thoughts, I am cheered by the poppy photos – they were absolutely packed with pollinators this morning, which validates our garden choices. They often have pollinators on them but the light and wind often work against me, and the numbers aren’t normally as impressive.

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Poppy with Pollinators

 

A Meeting with History

I thought I’d managed to sort out the “featured page” problem, but it was still there when I switched on tonight. I think I’ve fixed it now.

I’ve also fixed the small font problem. I must have adjusted it to 50% at some point when I was jabbing viciously and swearing at the slow-loading netbook. It’s now back to full size and I can read it.

This does not, of course, mean that it is worth reading.

Today I put a jital up for sale – a coin I’d never even heard of before.

It’s a small billon coin of Genghis Khan, minted shortly after 1200. Billon is an alloy of copper and silver. The Romans used it. Henry VII also used it, but he used it so that he could use some of the silver for financing his extravagant existence. His tampering with the coinage was so bad that it became known as the Great Debasement.

Meanwhile, I’m still slightly suspicious about the identification of the design as an elephant, It appears to have pointy ears, for one thing…