An Update on Building a Collection of eBay and ABE Purchases.
By Bruce McKinney
Since releasing a study of Joel Munsell's imprints in the March issue of AE Monthly I've continued to locate and buy Munsell imprints. [Link to article] Specifically I bought a run of Almanacs that were printed by or associated with Joel Munsell, the Albany printer. A nice run of them have recently been coming up for sale on eBay.
On eBay the selling is continuous so you never know if you are finding something at the beginning, middle or end of a run. Of course most of the time it is a single item or several items and that is that. The Webster's Calendar or the Albany Almanacs that interested me were those printed beginning in 1844 for 1845. On eBay about a month ago a run of five of them were posted with $4.00 minimum bids. They looked very good and after I bought them found them to be every bit as good as described. The years offered were 1849, 1850, 1851, 1852 and 1854. I waited until the final minutes of these sales and then bid $7.50 each. They sold individually, each for the minimum bid, for a total of $20.00 plus $3.50 shipping for the group. The seller shipped promptly.
I then emailed them offering to buy any others they had. As is common with eBay sellers they viewed my offer the way God viewed the snake in the Garden of Eden: skeptically but they did soon post a second group. This group included the Munsell almanacs for 1847, 1845, 1863, 1865 and 1866. The minimum bids again were $4.00 and this time a buyer offered the minimum for three of them and I had to pay an additional twenty-five cents each to close the deal. These five cost me $24.25.
During the ensuing several weeks I was traveling and while I had a computer I didn't have the time to watch for additional Munsell almanacs coming up. Apparently, while I was away one or more groups were posted because when I next looked the same seller was offering additional almanacs but they were now generally much later. This next group included dated 1847, 1848, 1876, 1877, 1878, 1879 and 1880. I noted the time and prepared to place bids. In the ensuing weeks another bidder or two had found this seller and these items and I now confronted opposition. I again prevailed but the price was higher. Six of these almanacs cost me $59.88 including $3.00 shipping. I missed the 1847 almanac altogether because I was tied up on another project and was then late to bid.
Along the way I noticed several of these almanacs on ABE that were priced at about $30.00 each. I bought them to compare with the eBay material. One of them was relatively early - 1848 - but was a poor copy. The seller was explicit but I wanted to see for myself. Well I saw and they were right. They weren't in great shape. They were also much more expensive, random evidence of the inconsistency of pricing on the net.