Tag Archives: Ebay

Deflation, Doom and Disappointment

I was feeling quite buoyant when I returned home.

The morning had been mildly challenging. One customer wrote a note with his order asking us to pack his parcel properly. I wanted to write and thank him for his advice, finishing with the words “…because it had never occurred to me to pack the parcel properly.” However, shop policy dictates that they never let me use my first idea for a reply.

Two customers wrote in with “offers” of approximately half our asking price. I wasn’t allowed to write to them either.

Another, who is from overseas, wrote a note in English words, but used in an order which conceals the actual meaning. You have to admire his bravery in using a foreign language, and the originality with which he uses it. We think he’s asking for a discount. They are always asking for a discount.

And then we have a case of theft – an envelope of coins was delivered with a slit in the side and a complete lack of coins. It’s insured, but it has already taken over an hour of emails and insurance claims, and is going to take more time before it is all settled.

Eventually I arrived home and went to see the couple next door. They have concerns about our conifer and I have arranged to have it topped before the nesting season starts. Tomorrow it will, at what sees great expense, be shortened by about 12 feet.

This leaves the lower half to act as a windbreak and wildlife habitat.

As I left, after letting them know the plane they asked “Have you thought of taking it down completely?”

As it happens, I have. There are many reasons I’m just having the top taken out. It acts as a windbreak for my garage, and partly for the house. It is a great wildlife habitat and we usually have pigeons nesting in it. It is one of the last mature trees left round the area as all the neighbours have taken their trees down (I may return to that subject later). It’s cheaper. I can’t think what to replace it with. And, finally, it’s my bloody tree and I can do what I like with it.

People seem to hate trees in gardens these days.

Apparently it casts a lot of shade over their garden. Well, when they bought the house a few years ago it was just as big and just as shady.

I’m very disappointed in them. There are a lot of reasons, as I explained, leading to me wanting to keep the tree. And they kept repeating that it cast a lot of shade and they would be prepared to help with the cost.

They might be prepared to help with the cost of cutting it down, but what about the cost to the local wildlife?

I am now downcast, deflated and disappointed.

Last Week’s Photos

I took 425 photos last week, according to the count I just did. Exactly 200 were personal and 225 for work. I’m not surprised by the number of photos but I am surprised that they worked out to such tidy figures.

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Cook Islands $1 – gold-plated copper with coloured detail

Of those, about half a dozen are blurred (as I delete obviously faulty ones at the time of taking, if I can) but many are poorly composed, badly lit or simply duplicates to make sure I get a decent shot.Many of the work shots are poorly lit because the subjects, particularly coin sets in boxes, and the lights (a couple of badly placed fluorescent tubes) aren’t really designed for good photography.

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Guernsey 50p – much the same as the previous photo – they never circulate and are really just medallions for people who want lots of bright shiny stuff

And again!

And again!

It was a dull week at work – just coins. medallions and the cards that go with them. The “house style” so far as we have such a thing, is also dull, as the shop owner doesn’t like shots which might be more interesting than average. That’s a shame, as I like to look for slightly more interesting angles. Apart from taking pride in my work, it breaks up the tedium of taking 225 photos of shiny, round things.

The other problem I have with him is that he doesn’t use a camera himself. This means he doesn’t understand lighting, or the way the camera sees the shot, particularly the colour rendition. He can’t see why we can’t replicate the picture his eye sees. Most of the time we get decent shots, but with a good camera, good lighting and with some decent equipment such as tripods and diffusers, we could do a lot better.

This is a medallion to mark the 75th Anniversary of the Spitfire’s First Flight.

A lot of them have to be photographed inside plastic capsules, which doesn’t help.You can’t win with that one. If you take a proof coin out of a capsule you get criticism for taking it out and, in the view of the critic, putting finger marks on the coin. If you leave it in you get questions about whether a scratch is on the coin or the capsule.

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Crowns – from the Festival of Britain 1951 to Wedding of Charles & Diana 1981

So here are a few of last week’s coin and medallion photos. Not really much of a challenge, apart from the poor equipment, and not much of a feeling of a job well done either. It’s fortunate I have a blog to keep me going.

 

 

Hands, Haibun and Haggis

I had a shock this morning. As I waved to Julia after dropping her at work I realised I had my father’s hands on the ends of my arms. I have the same ageing skin, the same slightly bent fingers and the same way of holding my hand when I wave. I even have some brown spots, though mine are freckles rather than age-related.

It was a bit of a shock.

I once wrote a poem, my first published poem as an adult, about looking in my shaving mirror to see my father looking back. It wasn’t quite accurate (or “authentic”,  if you prefer), because I don’t, as you may have guessed from the beard, shave. And in those unguarded mirror moments I actually look a lot like my maternal grandfather who has handed down his distinctive head shape to me.

Eventually, I will probably write a poem about this. It will be much more complicated than the anecdote I have just related and will include angst and a word I can’t quite remember. I’ll remember it when I stop thinking about it. It’s like ambivalence. It might be ambiguous. Something along those lines anyway. Editors, it seems, like that sort of stuff, and I don’t have enough of it.

That reminds me, I have a haibun in Contemporary Haibun Online January Issue. I feel that it may be the last for some time, as one of the main magazines is closing and the chief editor, who has accepted several of my haibun, and offered editorial advice, is being replaced by a man who I do not get on with quite as well.

Time to work on my craft, and begin battering editors with my brilliance.

There were eighteen parcels to pack this morning including several with multiple content. We also bought in a pair of Great War medals and some sovereigns.

We turned down the tin of worthless coins and the stamp collection. It was plain that the owner of the coins thought they were worth a lot more than we did so we persuaded him to keep them as their interest outweighed their commercial value. The stamps, we were truthful about – the market for modern First Day Covers has been dreadful for years and we don’t buy them unless they are autographed or have a coin on them. Or they belonged to Freddie Mercury’s father.

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Falklands Crown 2014 mounted on postal cover and autographed by Sir Tom Courtenay

For tea, we will be having haggis. This time it is made with meat. I’m looking forwards to it, and to making veggie burgers with the leftover veg,

As a welcome coincidence, it begins with “H” and allows me to indulge my passion for alliterative titles.

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

A Post in want of a Title

I’m watching Pride and Prejudice on TV and resorting to the netbook because I will only have half and hour to post if I wait until the end. Obviously I could go through to the computer in the other room, as I know how it ends, but it wouldn’t be the same.

I’ve generally liked Jane Austen on TV, but do have trouble with it on the page.

I suppose it’s better to watch it on TV rather than have no contact with it at all.

The rest of the day has been quite busy. We had eleven parcels to do, four sales to conduct via email and half a dozen  vacuous enquirers to answer. I really don’t know how it’s possible to be stupid enough to ask these questions but intelligent enough to use a computer.

It is half-day closing for us today, so I was able to be home before 1.30, and set to work on my own projects.

I managed to get some of the planning and research done for my talk on Peace and Tribute Medals and beat the computer at Scrabble (once in three attempts). Finally I took a lot of words from a list I had made last night and tried to fashion them into a sonnet. It is not going well. The trick, as they told Miss Elizabeth Bennett tonight, is to practice. I really don’t have the mental stamina to practice sonnets, so each attempt is a fresh trial. Mostly they end in failure.

I’m going to have another try now. Submission windows are going to be opening at an alarming rate for the next few months and I have nothing to send.

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Huddersfield Peace Medal 1919

 

 

An Elegantly Wasted Life

We had a slowish day, with enough work to keep us going but nothing overly taxing.

We had three parcels to send this morning, with a fourth to be packed and weighed so that we could invoice the buyer. In the afternoon another order came in – one postcard. It didn’t take much packing.

I’ve just had a look at the shop’s eBay account. The invoice has been paid and two more things have been purchased, a post card and a coin set. It looks like another easy day, though I’d rather have a busy one because it means I’m earning my wages.

There’s a very fine line between having an easy day and having a succession of easy days, or “unemployment” as it also known. Not that I would be unemployed, I’d just call myself a writer and get on with all the stuff I’ve been meaning to do for years, such as drinking more tea, claiming for pens on expenses and looking wistful.

I would also spend time selling my own stuff on eBay, though I note that their namby-pamby terms and conditions prohibit me from selling a kidney (Plan C, as I think of it), advertising my services as an inept assassin (or even an efficient one, to be fair) or advertising coins from Sudan.

I can see their point in some of these, but other prohibitions, such as Sudanese coins, make no sense.

Last week we wrote up a sale for a miniature George Cross on a First Day Cover, It’s a novelty collectable and the George Cross is a perfectly respectable medal. However, eBay automatically refused it as Russian law prevents the ale of Russian State Orders and Decorations. To advertise this, we would have to remove the Russian Federation from our postage list on this auction. We did this but still couldn’t post the auction.

We removed the word “George” from the title and it allowed us to proceed. The Russians, you see, have an Order of St George and the idiot in charge of such things at eBay has allowed for this by making it impossible for you to advertise medals with “George” in the title.

Politics by eBay is becoming ever more farcical, even in a world that includes Boris Johnson as our Prime Minister.

Just out of interest, now that President Trump (UK slang for breaking wind) and Prime Minister Johnson (US slang for penis), does anyone else have a growing belief that we are living in ludicrous times?

I’m going to resist temptation and not discuss silly names.

However, if you want to follow the link I can’t stop you.