Category Archives: Ebay

An Ordinary Life

Yesterday started, as usual, with shillings. We’ve probably spoken about shillings enough. I’ve certainly sorted enough.

I then moved on to sorting out four boxes of  secondhand office supplies we’ve recently inherited from the estate of a local dealer. Although I like stationery, I don’t necessarily like it when it’s mixed up in a box. What with scissors, loose staples and a loose craft knife it was not a happy episode.

Finally I was able to get to the computer in the back office and start putting medallions on eBay. We have a large supply of medallions. I refer to them as “modern”, though to many people the 1970s and 80s are “before I was born”.

I’ve put 41 on in two days and sold 14 already.

Fortunately I am not an ambitious man.

Historical Note: When someone reads my blog 50 years from now to see what ordinary people were thinking about Syria in the run up to Armageddon they are going to have to conclude “not much”.

I’m not sure why we are involved. I’m not sure why the Russians are involved. And I’m not going to waste time worrying about it because there’s nothing I can do to change things.

I’m now going to make corned beef hash for tea.


Pack, Pack, Pack!

We turned up at the shop today and found we had a record number of packages to send off. A normal Monday sees us with anywhere between two and ten parcels to send. Today there were fourteen. Not only that but one of the orders was for twenty eight medallions to go to Australia.

That required a stout box, brown paper and some old-fashioned wrapping skills.

We sent out pennies and sixpences, several coin sets, a seventeenth century token, two lots of banknotes and a variety of other things I can’t quite remember.

We also bought some coins (including a stunning Gothic Florin) and turned two lots of stuff away as it had originally been bought from the Sunday supplements and were thus (a) expensive and (b) poor quality. This is always sad as we know we are disappointing people, who often buy it with an eye to either investment or leaving it to grandchildren.

I’m tempted to use the word tawdry, but it seems a bit cruel, even though it does allow me to use an interesting link.

At the moment it’s a bit of a sore point as we overpaid when buying a few things that turned out to be very cheap on eBay. We will have to transfer some of the cost to the other things we bought. Some you win, some you lose…

The moral of this is don’t buy from people who spend a fortune on advertising, as you are paying for the advertising rather than the item.

And if you want to leave something to the grandchildren put some money into a savings account.

The ebay Diaries (Day 6 – Part 4)

I bought some tie pins/sweetheart brooches last Saturday using the Buy It Now button. They seemed very reasonable. This should have been the first warning.

They arrived yesterday, I looked at them and I left feedback. It was only when I looked at them in strong sunlight today (yes, we had some!) that I noticed all the faults. Two of the tiepins are twisted and one seems to be lacking any sort of silver mark. I really must remember my own rules about being careful when buying.


Later in the week I bought an enamel badge. It’s clearly a cheap modern copy. It cost me just over £3 so it’s not even worth the time to complain. The tiepins are slightly different, but it’s just as easy to straighten them as it is to send them back.


Royal Artillery tiepin

That, I know, plays into the hands of dishonest dealers but I can’t be bothered with the bickering that ensues. In truth they probably don’t know what they are doing. That’s the levelling influence of ebay – all you need to do is press buttons on a computer and repeat what is written on a badge. The bidders do the actual work. It’s a subject I may return to.

I may also return to the question of ethics.

Note to self –

Reasonably  priced ebay lots on Buy It Now are rarely as good as you think

Reasonably  priced ebay lots on Buy It Now are rarely as good as you think

Reasonably  priced ebay lots on Buy It Now are rarely as good as you think…


The ebay Diaries – Day 4 (but only Part 3)

Don’t look for Day 3, there isn’t one. Day 3 was a bit quiet and there wasn’t much to see so I spared you the tedium. that’s why Day 4 is only Part 3.

There’s an interesting Naval silver sweetheart brooch for sale in the shape of a torpedo, hallmarked for 1917 and engraved to HMS Patia. She was an armed merchant cruiser taken from her normal peacetime trade of carrying bananas and used to enforce the blockade against Germany. In her time on patrol she boarded or met 595 ships to ensure they were not carrying goods to Germany.

She was torpedoed by UC 49 on 13th June 1918 in the Bristol Channel.

Details from the ship’s log are available on this site. It includes this interesting snippet:

Cautioned Lt Charles Jacobson, Temp Eng Sub-Lieut RNR, for conduct unbecoming an officer in that on the night of 4th November 1917, in company with Mids Thomas A Onions RNR he introduced clandestinely two females into the ship.

Cautioned Midshipman Thomas A Onions, Royal Naval Reserve, for disobedience of orders and conduct unbecoming an officer, whereas on the night of 4th November 1917, he returned on board after 11 pm, contrary to orders, and introduced clandestinely two females into the ship.

There’s a lot to be learned, even from the details on a brooch.

I bought a naval sweetheart yesterday, so I’ll pass on this one, interesting as it is, It’s also rare, as the Patia only had a small crew. Interesting to speculate as to whether Jacobson or Onions ever gave a brooch to one of their clandestine females.

As for the rest of the day, I was underbidder on a number of lots and way adrift on a couple of rare ones – I just didn’t appreciate how rare until I saw the prices.

The ebay Diaries – Day One

After spending far too much time on ebay recently I’ve decided to get some use out of this time by writing about it.

Today’s installment is about the evils of blurred photographs. As you may have seen in one of the previous posts, there are a number of bad things to buy on ebay. One of the top ten is “things with blurred photos”. There are quite a lot of them.

When I used ebay as part of my business I used a scanner. In fact I wore a scanner out through constant use. They weren’t perfect, but the images were, on average, a lot better than most of the ones you see these days. They were very good for flat things like banknotes and postcards and generally good for things like coins and badges

The poor qualty would not be a big deal apart from one thing – more and more sellers are saying they don’t give refunds and that the picture forms part of the description.

I’ve always tended to avoid people who don’t give refunds because I consider it poor customer service. If you can’t trust them to stand by their product can you trust them to pack things properly or post them promptly?

I’ve always had an unconditional refunds policy and over all that time I’ve only ever had two things retuned. People are generally trustworthy and don’t abuse your terms of service.

People who don’t trust their customers are, in my experience, less trustworthy than average. (I’ll pick my words carefully there, but it’s a principle I always adhere to.)

Fortunately, unless things have changed, there are ways to get a refund despite this, though I’ve never needed to use them yet.

With a blurred picture it isn’t possible to see faults, and with a no refund policy this could make for a really bad buying experience. Personally, I think you should always tell customers if there is a fault.

In going through ebay this morning I’ve already spotted several broken or repaired items which aren’t noted as such, and where it’s difficult to spot the problem. The main clue is that they are often on “Buy it Now” and the price is suspiciously reasonable.

Having said that I’ve just bought a very reasonably priced job lot on a “Buy it Now”, so fingers crossed…