Tag Archives: Ebay

Wednesday Already!

Tuesday ws a bit of a drag, as days go, though Julia did make fish pie in the evening, which perked things up. I was supposed to make it but I fell asleep in front of TV so she let me sleep. She is a jewel amongst women, and very patient.

Highlight of Tuesday was that an eBay member wrote to us and told us that we had misdescribed something as silver when it was cupro-nickel, and that the certificate we had put with it, describing it as silver, was wrong. We always try to be accurate and most of the time we are. You don’t get 10,000 satisfied customers without being accurate. It’s always annoying to be told you are wrong, but even worse when you are right.

We sent him a picture of the hallmarks on the side of the medallion, proving that it was silver and that it was with the correct certificate. I’m not quite sure where he got his idea from. There are gold-plated cupro-nickel examples around (though I’ve never understood why they make them – why add gold plate to base metal?) but I’m not sure why he decided ours was one of them.

It was annoying, and it was time-consuming. However, we have amended the listing to remove any doubt and we have thanked him for taking the trouble to write to us, because we are nice people and we are professional.

Time to go now. My alarm just buzzed and I have to get to the doctor for my blood tests. Never a dull moment in my life!


Holiday and a Reality Check

It ws decided a few weeks ago (not by me) that we would close the shop from Wednesday to Wednesday. The owner is on holiday and decided that it would be easier for staffing if he closed the shop. In other words, after the debacle at Christmas, and his solution (making us take one of the weeks off out of our holiday entitlement because one of his staff (again not me), had made a fuss about coming in for some of the time despite us being given time off as a bonus.

Stamps, stamps, stamps…

The result is that we are now being directed when to take holiday and I am no longer paid for working on Wednesdays (normally my day off). To be honest, I can’t be bothered to argue about it as I have less than a year to go. At that point my small works pension and my Old Age pension will combine to produce an income approximately equal to my current part-time shop job. That’s the advantage of my pitiful career trajectory – retirement will not see me any worse off than when I was working. If I can actually find a part-time job after I retire I will actually be better off as a retiree.

Meanwhile, we had the AGM of the Numismatic Society last night. Eighteen men of a certain age gathered together to mutter and raise hands as the Treasurer read his report and the Secretary read his report and the Chairman gave his annual address The age range is from 45-85, with more at the top end of the scale than at the bottom.

Display of old relics at Flintham Show

Fears about being in a dying hobby are well-founded. Cigarette card collecting used to be a big collecting area. These days, despite a large stock, we sell very few cards and the collectors are mainly in their eighties. Card collecting continues, with football and other gum cards (such  as Star Wars and Batman) still having a following. Pokemon cards have a strong following too, as do many other sorts of card that we don’t deal with. Old dogs and new tricks spring to mind, but as most of the young people do their business online they don’t need a shop.

There were, as I recall, ten collectors shops with coins and medals when I moved to Nottingham 35 years ago. Now there are two, one of which is mainly a jeweller these days.

That’s how it’s going. Collectors generally find eBay a great place to buy (as I do) and they just don’t bother coming into shops these days, a trend I saw starting over 20 years ago. I’m one of the last remnants from the old days, already halfway between dinosaur and fossil . . .

Silver Coin Set

Soup, Medallions, eBay

As usual, there have been all sorts of things happening, but five minutes later they are forgotten or I have decided that they aren’t interesting enough to write about.

At the moment, Julia is out at a meeting (she’s still on the committee of a local group and has been for about ten years. She must have been Chair for at least five.) I keep telling her it’s time for a change. They need fresh leadership now. She’s not doing badly, it’s just that I think she’s done enough and could do with a rest from it. She was on the phone this morning when I ws still dressing and continued for another hour. This our day off!

I have two pots of soup on the go – Tomato and Lentil and Lentil and Bacon. Yes, I always have plenty of lentils in. And tinned tomatoes. And somebody gave us some leftover ham earlier in the week. It’s all from a pig so it’s bacon enough for me.  We will have soup and sandwiches tonight, with a salad garnish to try to look healthy. Tomorrow I will have soup for lunch, and the same again on Friday. I’m having Saturday off so we may well have soup for lunch then too. It’s cheap, healthy and convenient, which are all good.

Citizenship Medallion – est Lothian Council (reverse) by Tower Mint

Over the last few months I have been making a collection of British Citizenship medallions – they have been giving them out since at least 2005. This afternoon I listed all the ones I know of. It’s the sort of thing that collectors do. I have a list of 15, including two different varieties for Birmingham. There is a vast array of prices, anything from £2 to £45. I buy them when I see them at up to £10, as that’s about what they are worth in my opinion. The amusing one is the Brent Council one from London. It’s a well produced medal and very rare. I know it’s very rare because on of the eBay sellers currently selling one tells me so. Two others are rare and the other five haven’t offered an opinion on rarity.

If there are eight on eBay they aren’t rare. When cataloguing things some people put a rarity rating in the catalogue. Eight on eBay means it’s common. Like a lot of other things, people see one described as rare and decide to use the description themselves. They are all about £35 – £45 and I have news for them on that score too. They hardly ever seem to sell. But eBay dealers are born optimists . . .

London Borough of Harrow, but I expect you spotted that already.

 . . . and the back.

Talking of which, I put a medal case on eBay yesterday. It is custom made to hold a particulat pair of medals – the 1902 and the 1911 Coronation medals. The dates are gold-blocked on the lid and the 1902 medal has a very recognisable shape.  We hummed and hah’d on price. Someone who wants one would probably pay a lot of money for it.  But someone who wants one is probably a very rare customer. We went for the lower end of the price scale and set a new selling record – 11 minutes!


After the Bank Holiday

I’ve had a number of ideas about subject matter during the course of the day, and as I only need one or two ideas to fill my quota this post should be positively filled to the brim with words. They should be frothing over the top and running down the sides . . .

You can see what’s coming, can’t you? As soon as I look at that blank screen I lose all capacity to write. The same thing is now spreading to the kitchen. I feel hungry, but as soon as I open the fridge my ability to weave diverse wrinkly veg and surly-looking leftovers into a meal deserts me.

Hobbit Stamp

However, I will resist temptation to fulminate on the indignity of writers’ block and the related culinary problem. I may, on the other hand, talk about customers.

At 10.00 this morning, a customer rang. At 10.05 one walked into the shop. This established a pattern that carried on through the day. It took until 14.50 until we were able to finish all the parcels and get across to the post office. One brought in a handful of coins, all modern and circulated, and in two cases with other faults too (one with chemical stains and one with verdigris) having read the paper and convinced himself we would pay over £1,000 for them. One came in even though he knows he has to make an appointment as he always takes so much time. One made an appointment for Thursday then turned up today. Others came to sell, and all went away happy.

Mallard stamp

The telephone callers were mainly sensible today, though prolific and timewasting, but several on eBay were definitely contenders for an award. One of them wrote to say that he had ordered the items as discussed last week and looked forward to getting is postage refund. Unfortunately he hasn’t actually ordered anything. The man who asked if we would accept £50 for an un-named item still hasn’t answered my question asking which item he is talking about. There are others. There are always others . . .

The Instincts of a Magpie

So soon after saying that I was rarely at a loss for a subject I find myself staring at a blank screen. The state of the screen is not mirrored by the jumble inside my head, which is as full as ever, but the mix of thoughts doesn’t have a single coherent one.

The visit to the nurse went reasonably well.

The ASDA grocery order has turned up and although there are a few substitutions they are fairly sensible. We are now officially provisioned for Christmas, apart from Yorkshire puddings. I seem to have ordered frozen batter rather than frozen puddings. They aren’t actually difficult to cook from scratch, but I’ve become lazy over the years. Plus they take up less room in our small oven. Five minutes before the end I tend to throw in the Yorkshires on top of the roasting veg and all is good. Cooking from scratch is a little trickier and you need a spare shelf in the oven, which I don’t usually have at Christmas.

I will have to keep them frozen for now (which is a nuisance as the freezer is already full) and juggle with the oven space somehow. Maybe I will cook them first then reheat them. Maybe just cook more things on top of the cooker.

Christmas is always a test of ingenuity.

Maybe we should just eat less.

A local fundraising flag

Meanwhile, despite a few setbacks on eBay I am still managing to buy. It really will be a nightmare for my family sorting all this out if I die without getting it organised. Latest purchase is a selection of Great War fundraising flags. There are some common ones in the selection, but overall it is good value. It’s one of those areas where I used to buy a few every year. Since eBay came along I could buy some every week, so I have to limit myself

The pictures are some I already own. The ones I bought today weren’t quite as nice as this. The titles are a bit random as they relate to a previous post.

Horses were popular too


Other side of the horse flag

Cold, Customers and Contentment

All I did this morning was scrape three windows and two mirrors and my fingers became so cold that I couldn’t get the safety belt on until I’d beaten my hands together to restore the feeling.  That was probably the worst bit of the day, because it took a distinct upturn once I got to work.

We have been arguing with a customer and were expecting eBay to find in his favour despite his stupidity and unreasonable behaviour. We sent a parcel to the USA and the USPS tried to deliver it. Nobody was in and they left him a note to tell him. He claims they didn’t. We hear this a lot from customers and, based on experience, tend to disbelieve them.

He then said he didn’t know what to do and we would have to sort it out for him. We said that we couldn’t and he would have to sort it out himself. I don’t see this as unreasonable – what can we possibly do from this distance? I advised that he should contact his local delivery office or ask the postman. They would be able to tell him what to do. He refused.

He told us that he has 100s of post offices within a 20 minute drive and couldn’t visit every one. We said he didn’t need to as one conversation with his postie or on the phone should reveal all. And so it carried on. And on. He clearly had no intention of collecting it. or making any effort, and finally told us he didn’t want it and opened a case with eBay to get his money back.

They took the logical view that as it was at the local sorting office waiting for him it was his responsibility to pick it up and they would not issue a refund. This, to be honest, cheered us up after a  three week exchange of emails.

The parcel should, eventually, come back to us, and we will issue a refund, but we don’t have to refund the postage, which would have been annoying.  And that, minor as it may be, was enough to cheer me up fro the day.

It then improved even more. Someone had wanted a parcel delivering by Christmas. He agreed to pay for Guaranteed Delivery and we made a special listing for him to buy and then made an extra trip to the Post Office with his parcel.

It went to the post office at 3pm, was in London by 10 am and was delivered at 11.20am. Not bad for a postal service that is hampered by strike action. I not only have the beard of a Santa, I have the instincts too.

I tell you this story as most of our customers are fine people and most of our interactions are good. Unfortunately I always moan about the bad ones and this may not give you an adequate picture of my sunny disposition and my love of humankind.

The Smuggler’s Box

A few weeks ago The Owner was sorting boxes of old copper coins. This included a lot of worn out coins of George III, and he noticed that one of them seemed very light when he picked it up. It also didn’t sound right when he examined it (“examine” in tis context means “hit it with another coin then dropped it on the counter” – these are truly clapped out coins and their value is unlikely to be reduced by his treatment).

1797 Penny – George III and Britannia. It’s worn and the date has gone, but we know it’s 1797 because of the size – all the “cartwheel” coins were dated 1797.

It turned out to be a box made from a 1797 Penny. I’m not clear how they do this, but suspect it involves hollowing out two coins, rather than just splitting one. I had a look on YouTube but drifted off into how to make a knife using cheap Amazon tools. It looks fun but I think my days of dexterity may be behind me.

I just thought it was a box made from a penny, but when we checked up on eBay we found a couple of others, described as smuggler’s boxes. They clearly aren’t, for a number of reasons. One is that the penny is very worn and smuggling was probably out of date by the time this penny was worked. The other is that it’s not really a practical size for smuggling. What are you going to get in something that size? It might be a pill box (if you like your pills to taste of copper) or a patch box. I know very little about patches. Deep down I think it was probably made by an apprentice, or even an engineer with time of his hands and a lathe at his disposal. However, it’s an interesting novelty and I doubt that you could make one for £30.

Modern penny for size comparison

I’m not one to let reality get between me and a sale, so Georgian Smuggler’s Box, it became. Or possibly spy box, I said “It is tempting to think it may even have been used to transport secret messages by a spy in the Napoleonic Wars.” Note how I didn’t say it had been, or even that it was likely. And having put the idea out there, I waited . . .

It sold in auction for a reasonable sum – just over £30. The only other one on eBay at the moment is in much better condition, but at £180 it’s a lot more money. If I had the good one I’d feel I had to keep it in a cabinet. With the one we sold, you can shove it in your pocket and show people – a much better use of an object.

Can you see the join?

1797 Penny – a conundrum, and possible even a smuggler’s box.

Resolution and 8 Years on WP

Well, we managed to work out how the little toerag in London pulled off his scam. Or nearly pulled off his scam. It was the buyer, not the local postman who was at the bottom of it. I won’t say more as it might become a police matter. Let’s just say that despite the work we did in the shop, and the Post Office did, eBay came close to undoing it all. At mid-day it all seemed to be over, with the evidence we needed, and eBay promising to put a stop to the fraudulent claim and ban the buyer. An hour later they emailed to say that after more requests from the buyer they had found in his favour and refunded the £500, leaving us out of pocket to the tune of £500 and a £500 coin. After another hour on the phone they agreed we were in the right and it looks like we will be OK. However, the disorganised way they have carried on gives me little confidence.

The other big news of the day is that I have had a haibun accepted by CHO, or Contemporary Haibun Online. It’s the first one they have taken in about three years and represents a lot of persistence. I don’t just talk about persistence, I do actually practice it. I’ve not been producing a lot and I nearly didn’t send anything this time, but I did, and less than 24 hours later I had an acceptance. This is editing at a high level of excellence. It might be three years before I get another one in, so I’ll enjoy the moment.

Finally, I had a message from WP a few days ago – seems I’ve been here 8 years now. It seems like a long time but, to put it in context, I’m currently wearing boxer shorts which are older than that. It tool me several weeks after registering to find the nerve to write something. Now look at me, it’s hard to stop me wittering on about something every day. Even if that something is about another dull day in the shop. At least today was a bit more exciting.

The header picture is guinea fowl sheltering under a picnic table during a rainstorm, the first picture I posted on WP.

Kings and Queens and the Winds of Chance

It is an ill wind that blows no good.

This expression was first seen in print in John Heywood’s book of  proverbs in 1546, as “An yll wynde that blowth no man to good, men say”.  It mostly has the same words, but I’m not quite sure it has the same meaning as the modern expression. The website I read considers that Shakespeare was the first to use it in the modern sense of a bad thing bringing unexpected benefits.

“Ill blows the wind that profits nobody.” Henry VI (1591)

It would be Shakespeare wouldn’t it? It always is. To be honest, I didn’t even know he wrote a play called Henry VI, so I’ve learnt more than just the origin of an expression. I really should know more about Shakespeare but apart from the plays we read at school I have only read two or three others, plus a few sonnets. I’ve also read Bryson’s biography, a book about his “lost years” and a detective novel that revolves round one of his lost plays.

Anyway, back to the ill wind. In the aftermath of the Queen’s death we have sold a number of things that we have had on eBay for years. This includes medallions and banknotes with her image on it and our entire stock of Prince of Wales investiture medallions. We had 35 parcels to send out today and had to make two trips to the post office.

It’s always a time of mixed emotions when someone famous dies and business increases, and I do feel a little guilty about it at times, but anything I do is nothing compared to what will soon become a flood of tacky commemorative items. Just look at what the Royal Mint has done. We will sell you these coins (1977 Silver Jubilee crowns) for a couple of pounds. You can buy them on eBay for as little as 99p. You can also buy them for up to £300. We will sell you these (the 1953 Coronation crown) for a little more. They are available on eBay for £4 or in auction starting at 99p. Or, if you look for the most expensive price – £4,999.99.

I will leave you to draw your own conclusions about my opinion of some of these prices.


Sales, Surprises and Staff

If you read yesterday’s post you may have noticed that I missed the title off. It’s not the first time I’ve done that, but it is the first time since last year – one of the advantages of my “no title” series of posts. It has a title now, though it didn’t exactly stretch my creativity.

It was a good day in the shop. We had five orders on eBay, one for 32 items I had only loaded yesterday. They were only cheap, but any sale is a good sale. It was one of those double-edged events – glad to make the sale, but slightly regretful that two hours of listing and (complicated) loading of photographs brought such a quick result. Even though it was clearly a masterful bit of listing, it seems like wasted effort when it finishes so quickly.

We then had several customers by appointment, answered phone calls and listed more items for sale. One of the customers was very knowledgeable, and told us so, at length. It’s very tempting to be sarcastic, but I’m better than that.

Then, when I finished loading the new coins, I checked for new sales and found we’d had six sales, one of which was for more than all the sales we’d had overnight. There’s always plenty of room for surprises when you have eBay.

Another surprise was a comment in our feedback, which I liked – “you should be very proud of your staff”. I’m thinking of having it made into a T Shirt.

Gold £2 Coin 1995 End of WW2 Reverse

Dove of Peace on a 1995 £2 coin – this one is gold, the ordinary ones were brass. For those of you from UK, yes they were meant for circulation but they never caught on.