Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2012 Issue

eBay:  I bid you not

Screen shot 2012-03-31 at 11.02.43 am

An image from auctionbusinessreviews.com

Recently on my browser, Chrome, the id number of eBay lots drifted down the item description page and lost a few point sizes making it a bit less obvious to those who use third party bidding software to automatically place bids as time expires.  It’s understandable that eBay would want to make such numbers less obvious so to encourage the use of eBay’s own bidding software that moves the bid immediately if higher bids are in their bid system.  For buyers of course potentially showing their maximum bid early makes no sense.  It can cost you money.

How does this work?

If I see an item on eBay that’s interesting I can immediately place a bid in my third party automated bidding software that does two things.  It insures I’ll be bidding up to my maximum specified price and lets no one know I’m interested until my bid is placed with a few seconds to go.  If instead I use eBay’s software and place the same maximum bid it immediately exposes my bid to incremental counter bidding.  I may still end up winning but possibly, even probably, pay more.

As time expires and my bid is entered eBay learns I’m willing to pay more, sometimes much more and I’m sure they would like to earn more commissions and help the seller get a higher percentage of my maximum bid.    But this is an auction and what makes these auctions so appealing is the possibility of buying well.  Lessen that possibility and I think eBay and sellers both lose.  Fail to obtain better outcomes for sellers and they risk some sellers giving up.  The good news for eBay is that more serious collectors are buying there today although their numbers are not yet sufficient to increase prices.  In time they will. 

A weakness for sellers on eBay for years has been their inability to regularly obtain comparable outcomes to what is listed in dealer catalogues and on listing sites.  A few years back I estimated the outcome of a theoretically identical item on all the major platforms.  Here is an updated version including the likelihood of a sale:

Level

Potential Price as a % of the Logically Possible

Likelihood of Sale

Time Needed

 

 

 

 

Serious Dealers

100%

50%

1-2 years

Auctions

70%

75%

90-150 Days

Listing Sites

60%

10%

5 Years

eBay

25% to 30%

80%

2 Weeks


It’s not a pretty picture but its probably reality.  For every item there is the perfect buyer, the one who will pay the highest price and feel the greatest satisfaction with the acquisition.  Sellers have a technical term for such buyers – their lottery winners - but the likelihood of consistently attracting such bidders [in real life] is zero.  Of course I do see some sellers who consistently have 10 to 20 bids for their items, most placed early and frequently over the 7 to 10 day lives of their sales.  Their self-less bidders tell the world of their interest and bravely post their offers early and often so to encourage a rich outcome for the seller.  They are true friends, maybe even relatives.

For the rest of us who collect we seek to acquire when the item fits and the price makes sense.  The recent eBay decision to make the lot number a bit less obvious will for some make prices go a bit higher but also potentially reduce the interest and fervor of some buyers who have come to love the site.  If so, it’s a shame.  For the old, rare and obscure there’s really nothing like it.     


Posted On: 2012-04-01 00:00
User Name: PhilipCohen

And, just for a laugh, some serious analyses of PayPal's "The New Way To Pay In-Store", PayPal Here, PayPal Digital Wallet, PayPal Debit MasterC


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Francis Scott Key, <i>Star Spangled Banner,</i> first printing, c. 1814-16. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> William Sydney Porter, a.k.a. “O. Henry,” archive of drawings made to illustrate a lost mining memoir, c. 1883-84. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> [Bay Psalm Book], printed for Hezekiah Usher of Boston, Cambridge, c. 1648-65. $50,000 to $75,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, 1830. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>Noticia estraordinario,</i> probable first announcement in Mexico City of the fall of the Alamo, 1836. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Patrick Gass, first edition of earliest first-hand account of the Lewis and Clarke expedition, Pittsburgh, 1807. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Diploma from the Princeton Class of 1783, commencement attended by Washington & Continental Congress. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>Sprague Light Cavalry!</i> color-printed broadside, NY, 1863. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>The Lincoln & Johnson Union Campaign Songster,</i> Philadelphia, 1864. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Lucy Parsons, labor organizer, albumen cabinet card, New York, 1886. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Daniel L.F. Swift, journal as third mate on a Pacific Whaling voyage, 1848-1850. $3,000 to $4,0000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Two photos of Thomas Moran, Grand Canyon, silver prints, 1901. $1,500 to $2,500.
  • <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Helvelius. Two Autograph Letters Signed to Francis Aston, Royal Society Secretary, noting his feud with Robert Hooke, 5 pp total, 1685. $70,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Newton, Isaac. Autograph manuscript on God, 4 pp, c.1710, "In the beginning was the Word...."?$100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. First edition, first issue. Untrimmed copy in contemporary boards. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Lincoln, Abraham. Signed photograph, beardless portrait with Civil War provenance. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> IMPEACHMENT. Original engrossed copy of the first Andrew Johnson impeachment resolution vote. $120,000 to $180,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Mucha, Alphonse. 11 original pencil drawings for?<i>Andelicek z Baroku,</i> "Litte Baroque Angel," Prague, 1929. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Einstein, Albert. Annotated Galley Proofs for <i>The Meaning of Relativity.</i> 1921. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Silverstein, Shel. Original maquette for <i>The Giving Tree,</i> 34 original drawings. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Roth, Philip. Typed Manuscript with substantial autograph corrections for an unpublished sequel to <i>The Breast.</i> $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Taupin, Bernie. Autograph Manuscript, the original draft of lyrics for Elton John's "Candle in the Wind," 2 pp, 1973. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> HARVEY, WILLIAM. <i>De Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus Anatomica Exercitatio.</i> Padua: 1643. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> CESALPINO, ANDREA. <i>Peripateticarum Quaestionum Libri Quinque.</i> Venice: 1571. $30,000 to $40,000.
  • <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Leon TOLSTOÏ. <i>Anna Karenina.</i> Moscou, 1878. First and full edition of the Russian novel, in the author’s language.<br>Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Mark TWAIN. <i>Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer's comrade).</i> New York, 1885. First American edition.<br>Est. 5 000 / 6 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Walt WHITMAN. <i>Leaves of Grass.</i> Brooklyn, New York, 1856. Second edition gathering 32 poems. Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Karen BLIXEN. <i>Out of Africa.</i> Londres, 1937. First edition in the UK, before Danish translation and American release.<br>Est. 1 500 / 2 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Ernest HEMINGWAY. <i>A Farewell to Arms.</i> New York, 1929. First edition with $2.50 on the dust and A on the copyright page.<br>Est. 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> James JOYCE. <i>Ulysses.</i> Paris, Shakespeare and Company, 1922. First edition published by Sylvia Beach. Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> James JOYCE. <i>Dubliners.</i> Londres, 1914. First edition. Nice copy in publisher’s cardboard. Est. 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Franz KAFKA. 8 novels in German first edition, published in München, Leipzig and Berlin 1916-1931. Est. from 300 / 400 to 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> David Herbert LAWRENCE. <i>Lady Chatterley's Lover.</i> Florence, 1928. Privately printed first edition. Est. 4 000 / 5 000 €
    John STEINBECK. <i>The Grapes of Wrath.</i> New York, 1939. First edition. Nice copy with $2.75 on the cover. Est. 1 000 / 1 200 €

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