Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2007 Issue

eBay: Notes from the front

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A time and money saving tool.


By Bruce McKinney

This month I want to discuss two ways to improve your eBay experience. eBay and Google lie on one side of the tectonic shift; traditional bookselling, listing sites and book fairs on the other. The world of books doesn't only break down into these two halves of course. It also breaks down into an infinite number of combinations of these elements depending on personal perspective and experience. Google and eBay are built on concentric models, almost everyone else on sequential ones. For some folks eBay is an enemy. For others it's too complex. For many it's an unknown, and for others inaccessible. For an increasingly large group it's indispensable. This article is for those who regularly evaluate eBay listings and sometimes bid.

A month ago I signed-up for PowerSnipe [www.powersnipe.com], an automated bidding system. With it I can, for any lot, immediately enter a maximum price which they execute on my behalf as the auction expires. This differs from eBay's software which accepts my bid but exposes it as others post bids against me during the sale. Here is a comparison.

Posting my bid on eBay: A Gutenberg Bible, the original edition, is posted for sale with a starting bid of $100. The name is misspelled Gutenburg so I'm hopeful. In this first example I soon post a $5,000 bid via eBay. I'm the only bidder so my bid shows as $100. Over the next few days others notice the item and post their bids of $250 and $400. When the $250 bid is posted it exposes my bid at $255. When the $400 bidder posts theirs it further exposes my bid which becomes $405. Should one of these bidders or a new one next bid $1,500 my bid will become $1,525. Competitors will now click on my eBay profile and see that I sometimes buy very good items for strong prices. They'll consider whether they want to go higher and may do so. Over the final days of the auction many people will have opportunities to test my limit. I may win the item but I'm probably going to pay more than I would in the next example.

In this example I use PowerSnipe. When I find the item I save it to the items I'm following on eBay and then open my PowerSnipe account and copy and paste the item number in. The description then comes up and I'm prompted to enter a maximum price. I enter $5,000. On eBay nothing shows. I may be the first to notice the item but my bid is not visible. In fact, eBay is not even aware of it. In the mean time the $250 bidder bids and only the $100 starting price shows. When the $400 bidder arrives he shows up on top with a $255 bid. At this point I'm aware but not visible. As the sale winds down a third bidder enters and bids $1,500. He's now on top but shows only $405. With a few seconds to go my $5,000 bid appears. No one has any time to react to me. The auction ends and I buy the Bible for $1,525.

The cost of this service is $59.99 for a year. When I recently signed up it was offered for $45. They currently offer a one month free trial. If you buy a few lots every week you'll have the money back in no time.

There are several other services online offering similar capabilities and one of our members emailed us that they prefer esnipe. I'm an advocate of the process. We have no relationship to any bidding services and receive no commissions from any of them.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Gonnelli Auction House<br>Books and Graphics<br>19th, 20th and 21st April 2021</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 19-21<br>Books from XVI to XX Century</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 20<br>Atlases and Maps</b
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br> Veneto and Venice, a Selection of Books from the XVI to XX century</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 20<br></b>Rossini Gioachino, Baguette de chef d'orchestre appartenuta a Gioachino Rossini, dono del Comune di Passy. 1500 €
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br></b>Manetti Saverio, Storia naturale degli uccelli trattata con metodo. Cinque volumi. 1767. 18.000 €
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br></b>Poe Edgar Allan, Double assassinat dans la rue morgue. Illustrations de Cura. 1946.
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 19-21<br>Books from XVI to XX Century</b>
  • <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Collection of a Connoisseur:<br>History in Manuscript, Part 2<br>27 April 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Ronald Reagan. Series of 37 letters to Senator George Murphy, and related material, 1968-90. £50,000 to £70,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Chaim Weizmann. Autograph letter signed, to General Sir Gilbert Clayton, 6 September 1918. £20,000 to £30,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Sir Winston Churchill. Autograph letter signed, to Pamela, Lady Lytton, 1942. £20,000 to $30,000.
    <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Collection of a Connoisseur:<br>History in Manuscript, Part 2<br>27 April 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Oscar Wilde. Five autograph letters signed, to Alsager Vian, 1887. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Napoleon I. Letter signed to Admiral Ganteaume, ordering the invasion of England, 22 August 1805. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Horatio, Viscount Nelson, and Emma Hamilton. Two autograph letter signed, to Catherine and George Matcham, 1805. £6,000 to £8,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Frances Palmer, <i>Battle of Buena Vista,</i> chromolithograph, New York, 1847. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma, the earliest publication concerned solely with chocolate, first edition, Madrid, 1631. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Romans Bernard, <i>An Exact View of the Late Battle at Charlestown, June 17th, 1775,</i> engraving, 1776. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> <i>A Short Narrative of the Horrid Massacre in Boston,</i> English edition, London, 1770. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> William Soule, <i>Lodge of the Plains Indians,</i> albumen print, 1872. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Manuscript document to enforce New York’s “Agreement of Non-Importation” during the heyday of the Sons of Liberty, New York, 1769. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Clarence Mackenzie, <i>Drummer Boy of the 13th Regiment of Brooklyn,</i> salt print with applied color, 1861. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Moses Lopez, <i>A Lunar Calendar,</i> first Jewish calendar published in America, Newport, RI, 1806. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b><br>The Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, 1830. $30,000 to $40,000.

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