eBay is addictive and because of other expenses I must not avoid, there's no excuse for my recent buying frenzy except that, finally, I've worked out the secret.
For almost a year I avoided eBay. The items bid for went elsewhere and, dispirited, I felt the risk was not worth the reward. In my case, this was a resounding 'zero' because I did not understand the psychology of online bidding. Now I know and I should be happy.
But the sheer volume of purchases means my credit card looks set to be maxed out for some time. Take this print, for example. Raoul, the seller, says it is an original, early-twentieth century photographic print. I've no way to know but the money's been paid ($32) and the package sent.
The description is delicious: "Vintage Antique Sepia Risque Lady Print 1800's 1900's". Even the redundant apostrophes contain a measure of charm and, in fact, function as a sort of guarantee of authenticity. I figure that it is good. It is also a lot of fun to own this sort of thing. I can easily imagine my grandmother (born 1906, died 1996) striking such a pose.
Then there's this.
I freely admit to being a map freak. It's sort of like being the guy who collects pre-WWII lunch boxes. Except, in this case, there's an intrinsic value that anyone can participate in enjoying.
A map, after all, is a political statement. As for this exemplum, the only query is whether the f**king thing was actually printed in the late 18th century. I sort of doubt it. It is more probably a 19th century copy of an 18th century engraving.
I retain doubts in this direction, though. I mean, would a self-respecting Victorian buy a (decadent) pre-Romantic print? It's counter-intuitive to think he (less likely she) would do so.
Further heartache is pending in the guise of additional expenditure for framing services. My preferred provider is ASA Anderson in Annandale. They're bloody good but never cheap and my innate bent (to collect images of unique appeal) means I'll be driving around that part of the inner west in the immediate future.
When buying on eBay it is critical to have some idea of the price an item should go for. This can take only a few hours spent looking in second-hand shops and antique dealers' showrooms. Given this information, it is relatively easy to aim, at about 10 minutes before the end of bidding, at the right target.
I generally (if I really want an item) immediately raise my first bid by some measure. I then usually raise it again. There's always a frenzy of activity in the last minute. If my third bid is accurate, I should be safe.
On occasion, it takes a further bid at about 30 seconds before the end, to secure the item. It's quite exciting and I will be back.