Once I identify an item as “of interest” I’ll check both ABE and the ÆD (Americana Exchange Database) to see what I can find out. It occasionally happens that books on ABE for $50 sell on eBay for $150. I don’t want to be the winning bidder on such items and I’ve already had some close calls. You do have to look. In the ÆD, I want to see if the item is there. If it isn’t it is either rare or hasn’t been considered important enough to catalogue. And of course if dealers and auction houses have handled it I want to see when they had it, how it was described and priced. With just a few clicks I’m the world’s leading expert on a piece of obscuranta that I may be interested in or discard. It takes only a few seconds. So much will depend on the price. It’s really quite easy. I set up the keywords, the keywords look for matches, I review the matches against both internet listings and our 600,000+ record database. And then I bid if the item is in good condition and the opening bid is reasonable. At the same time I set a limit on what I'll pay based on what I know about the item or what similar items are worth.
This morning there is a copy of the Rural Repository published in Hudson in 1845. It’s a single issue and I think this magazine usually comes in bound editions of perhaps a full year. The asking opening bid is $9.95 and the listed shipping and handling is $2.25. I think I’ll pass but I’ll monitor it until the auction closes. If someone buys it I want to see who it is (not the person but their online handle). Over time you’ll get to know the style and personality of almost every buyer to the point where you’ll know their bidding limit and their bidding pattern. To see this, click on bids and then bidders listed on any item at auction on eBay. (Microsoft users can then right click their mouse and select BACK to see the next item purchased by the buyer whose record you're looking at. As far as I know it isn't as easy with a MAC.) You do see some interesting “handles” on eBay and someday there may be cemetery marker or two that say something like:
It will be something right out of the Spoon River Anthology. Knowing who you are up against can be important.
I’ve been buying almanacs and there are always some for sale. The next lot is an 1837 Philadelphia imprint in only fair condition and now I see it’s missing the back page. No thanks.