Specializing in postcards and antique photographs

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Colorized Cabinet Photo Circa 1890s

This is a cabinet photo from the 1880s-1890s, probably more in the 1890s range. The interesting thing about it is that it is colorized, probably with crayon, but I can't really say for sure. The woman's hair is blond and you can see some pink in her cheeks.

Cabinet photos (or Cabinet Cards) were popular from the 1860s or so until the very early 20th century. They are roughly (tho not exactly) 4 X 6 inches, and they changed thru the years. That's how we can come up with an educated guess as to the age. The thickness of the cardboard, the ornateness of the writing & illustrations on back (or the lack of such), round corners vs square corners, borders etc are all clues.

This photo has very ornate photographer information on the front and back - this one is from Richmond, Virginia.

Also the photo itself is an albumen print on very thin paper - if there is silvering, that is indicative of a gelatin silver print, which dates it into the 20th century.

Click on the title to go to the listing if you're interested.

Update:  SOLD!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Comic Art Postcard - Tex Lowell

This is an example of a comic art postcard by Tex Lowell. I just found out that Tex Lowell's real name was George E. Turner, but he used this name to hide his moonlighting from a newspaper he worked at in Amarillo, Texas. If this is true, then it's quite interesting because George E. Turner became famous in certain circles.

Tex Lowell drew a lot of these types of cards - they were something for tourists to buy in the 1950s. Sometimes he just signed "Tex" and sometimes he probably didn't sign them at all. This is a pretty good example of his art.

This is a standard/chrome postcard probably from the 1950s, certainly no later than the 1960s. If you're interested, click on the title to go to the listing.

And Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Art Postcard Julie Andrews, by Al Herschfeld

This postcard is an interesting drawing of Julie Andrews by Al Herschfeld in 1968, while visiting the set of the movie STAR!. This movie was directed by Robert Wise, and was based on the life of British actress Gertrude Lawrence.

It looks like a simple illustration, but at the same time there are a lot of details and expressions represented.

I like it. If you're interested, click on the title to go to the listing.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Trouble With Pictures

Unless I've made a mistake or there is a software glitch, every eBay listing we have has a picture or two. This post involves difficulties I encounter in getting it right.

The picture to the right is a sepia (ish) photo from the 1920s or so. And what you see is the absolute best I could do with it, and my best fell way short. The actual photograph has richer colors and much more subtle shading - it is a very nice picture. I could not reproduce it accurately - the physical photo looks better than the picture I ended up with.

The problem is lighting. I'm not a professional, and I don't have professional equipment or knowledge. I do have a small light box with "daylight" lamps and also a place close to a window that lets a lot of natural light in. I pick and choose which I think is best, depending on the situation. If you look at one of our listings and it has a black background around the edges, then I used the light box. If it has a light blue background, then I used natural light.

I think light has color. Daylight bulbs, regular bulbs, fluorescent bulbs, sunlight all have their own tint. Sometimes it is reflected off the surroundings, and sometimes not. But even though we don't normally think of light as having color, I'm pretty sure it does, and it changes the way a thing looks when you take a picture of it. This can be very frustrating, especially if you have a bit of a detail oriented streak about certain things.

Every picture I take gets moved from the memory stick to a work area on my computer, then pulled up into Paint Shop Pro 8. Why PSP8? Because that's what I have, no other reason. In PSP I crop it, I want to show the picture and the edges - edges are important to collectors - and not much else. Then I try to make the item on the computer look the same way as the physical item in front of me looks. This is tricky. The last thing I want to do is to doctor something up so that it looks better in the listing than it is in reality because that can lead to a very unhappy customer. At the same time, I don't want to cause someone to under value an item because it doesn't look as good as it should - so I do the best I can to get it right. Most of the time I come up short. Most of the time the picture in the listing does not look as good as the actual item - especially photographs like the one above.

I also resize the picture for the listing - I make it a little smaller. I just started doing that a month or so ago, because I ran into a space storage issue. This was a compromise I hated to make, because I think being able to super size a picture and seeing the details is important for online buyers. But it is a space = money issue, and I had to do it. They're still good size, but just not as huge as they used to be when you click on them.

After I'm done with all that I upload them into software called "Inkfrog", and that is where we create the listings with the pictures, then schedule them to be posted on eBay.

I know I'm not the only who has issues with pictures they use in their desriptions. Some people include a statement in their listings that the item looks better than the photograph, so they must be going through similar frustrations. Pictures are very important, and it is hard to get them exactly right.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ivars Acres of Clams Restaurant

This is a standard/chrome postcard of Ivar's Acres of Clams Restaurant in Seattle, Washington. From the looks of the cars, it appears to be from the 1940s or early 1950s. It's located on Pier 54 on the Seattle waterfront, next to the fireboat station.

But not for long, apparently. I read an article online (dated April 2009) which said it was going to be used for fire training before being demolished.

However, they still have a website and still seem to be in business, so I don't know. Their website says they've been around since 1938.

Anyway, this card is in the neighborhood of 60 years old, and you can click on the title if you're interested in going to our listing.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Entrecard Kicked In

After 8 or 9 days the entrecard people finally approved this blog. Watch out world!

12/17: I've still yet to see ads other than the EC generic sponsor ad. There should be others running, so am I just missing it or have I done something wrong.....


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Charlotte Bronte CDV Circa 1870 (we think)

The image to the right is a Carte de Viste (CDV), which were very popular in the mid to late 19th century. These were usually photographs, and people would give them to each other - sort of like calling cards I guess. What is a little different about this one is that this is an illustration, not a photograph. I'm not sure of the process used to actually put this illustration on paper and affix it to the cardboard backing, it could be photography was involved, but I doubt it.

Anyway, we've figured out that this is Charlotte Bronte, and this is from a famous portrait of her. She died when photography was in it's infancy, and I'm not sure if she ever had her photo taken.

CDVs usually measure about 2 1/2 X 4 inches, and this is pretty close to that. You can date them by the thickness of the backing, square corners vs round corners, and the ornateness (or lack of ornateness) of any photographer information on it. Sometimes you get lucky and someone has written a date on it. This one has no such info tho. We believe this one is from the 1870s or so, but it's just an educated guess.

Click on the title to go to the listing if you're interested.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Echoes From Over There - WWI Stories & Pictures

This is a book we've had for sale for awhile now. Its title is "Echoes From Over There", and its copyright 1919 by the Soldiers' Publishing Company.

The book includes several stories told by soldiers, which appear to be written down word for word. It also includes several period pictures.

The stories are generally matter-of-fact, and taken as a whole, they paint a picture of a very brutal war. I've read them all.

The cover is in pretty rough shape, but the pages and pictures are as shown - clean, sharp and quite legible.

Click on the title to go to the listing, if you're interested.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

eBay & Money

eBay is not free - not by a long shot. And it appears to be more expensive percentage wise for sellers of lower priced items. So imagine the exact opposite of a progressive system of taxation, and you'd be pretty close.

Be that as it may, we make a profit, and it's cheaper than maintaining a brick & mortar store down on Main Street. Even down on Main Street in Valdese.

This is what eBay does for us at this point, money wise. First, and most important, it pays for itself. The items we sell cover the listing fees, the final value fees, the PayPal fees, the fees for our store, the cost of envelopes & packaging supplies, printer ink & paper, plastic polypropylene sleeves we store postcards and photos in, tape and probably some other things I'm not thinking of.

The money we get from eBay also pays for what we spend on inventory - things we buy to re-sell. Inventory is not an 'expense', though it's not free. Inventory is an asset, if we don't sell it, it is our property. So the money we make on eBay covers our business related expenses and the cost of inventory.

It has been a long time since we actually lost money during a one month period. Sometimes when all the expenses are figured in there is not much left, but most of the time there is a significant amount left over. Not enough that we can splurge on an unneeded luxury or spend without any thought or concern, but enough to really help with household bills. If it wasn't there, we'd notice it.

And it goes a long way to keeping me from having to get a 'real' job - with any luck my days of having a 'real' job are over. In one sense, it is a lot of work for the amount of money it generates. Most people could not tolerate that - but things have worked so we're in a situation that we can. But the big benefits - not having to live a cubicle life, being able to set your own schedule, not having a boss of any kind - are hard to put a price tag on.

When I look back over the records I kept from 2007, I'm surprised we kept with it. There were some pretty dismal months. It took awhile for us to get to the point where the money we earn thru eBay would be noticeable if we didn't earn it. Perhaps I should be satisfied, but I'm not. My goal is to get it to the point where we can take a month's profits and splurge on an unneeded luxury if we want, at least every now and then. It'll be awhile.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

1933 Chicago World's Fair Photo Booth Picture

At the height of the Great Depression, a woman sat down at a photo booth at the Chicago World's Fair, smiled to the camera and snapped her picture.

Her last name is McDearmid, her first name was probably Maxine, and that is all I know about her.

There was another set of these pictures, we sold on eBay several weeks ago. This one is in much worse condition, but I thought I'd give it a try.

I like this for several reasons - the major one is that it has Chicago World's Fair 1933 on it. But also just because of the picture. She's wearing ordinary clothes, smiling, young, healthy and strong back in 1933. I wonder what kind of life she lived.

If you're interested, click on the title to go to the listing.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

3,000 Feedbacks

Either last night or this morning our little store got it's 3,000th positive feedback. It's taken since August 2006 for us to receive that many. Up to this point we have not received any negatives, but we have received one neutral. It's a good record.

It's not an accident that we haven't had a negative. We try to describe things accurately, keep our shipping charges reasonable, ship quickly, and communicate every step of the way. We let our buyers know when we receive their payment & when we send their item.

I know the time will come when someone will take issue with something and give us a negative. We deal with a lot of people every month, eventually it's bound to happen.

Our one neutral came back in late 2007 from someone that had an issue with state sales tax. It was an issue that could have been easily resolved, had he contacted us. But he didn't, the first we knew about his concern was when he left us neutral feedback.

So, 3,000 is a milestone I guess. All those zeros at the end.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Italia E. Evans

We came across these pictures awhile ago, and just got around to listing them. Things like this are what makes doing eBay stuff fun, at least for me.

We have a series of 5 pictures with large matting of Italia E. Evans. The pictures show her at age 10 (2), 12 (1) & 18 (2). The picture with this article is her as an 18 year old.

Her name was written in ink, in very beautiful script on 3 of the pictures. Her age was written in pencil on the back of 3 of the pictures. The photographer was "Perrey" of Ft. Wayne, Indiana. This was embossed on the matting of 3 of the pictures, and carefully handwritten on the two "18 years old" pictures.

We decided to find out what we could about Italia E. Evans, and it was a fair amount. Here goes:

She was born in January 25, 1891, most likely in Ft. Wayne. That would date our pictures to 1901, 1903 & 1909. In 1910 she was a secretary for the Ft. Wayne Anti-Tuberculosis Society. In 1914, an Italia Evans graduated from the NY Public Library School & in 1917, Italia Evans "tendered her resignation at the Ft. Wayne Public Library to enter the automobile field as a local sales rep for Detroit electric". She was also a member of the Mary Pemrose Wayne Chapter of the DAR, #75222. In 1920 she was living with her mother (O.F. born in Germany) in the 10th Assembly District of Manhattan. Her mother was apparently divorced. Sometime between 1920 & 1930 (we believe) she married an Earle Moss. We're pretty sure her grandmother was a woman named Sarah Fairfield Evans. We saw two residences for her in Ft. Wayne - 2409 S. Harrison Str., and 521 East Berry Str, but we don't know what years she lived there.

Italia Evans died in June, 1977, at age 86.

So that's interesting - a name and a photographer's location lead to all that information. My impression was that she was very intelligent, ambitious, and probably somewhere between upper middle class and outright wealthy. It's interesting that she seemed to be a career woman, at a time when most women were not. I think her family was prominent at the time.

These are beautiful pictures, and I hope whoever buys them will be very happy with them.

You can click on the title to go to our eBay listing.

Update SOLD!

Sunday, December 6, 2009


eBay recently changed they way they resolve unpaid item issues. Under the old rules, a seller had to wait a minimum of 7 days before they could file an unpaid item report, and then another 7 days before it was resolved, assuming the buyer did not respond. eBay has shortened that time - now sellers can file their unpaid item claims in as little as 4 days after the sale, and the case is resolved 4 days later.

I generally give buyers 10 days. After 7 days or so I'll send out a friendly reminder, and after 10 days I open an unpaid item case. If there is no response, I claim my final value fee refund as soon as I'm eligible to.

Perhaps some buyers don't understand - eBay charges a fee based on the price an items sells, and collects it immediately. Or rather it adds it to the seller's monthly invoice charge immediately. Filing the unpaid item case enables the seller to get that money back. In addition, for whatever its worth, it will also place an unpaid item strike against the buyer's account. Eventually, if enough of those are accumulated, their ability to do business on eBay will be curtailed. I assume. I don't speak for eBay and have no idea how that mysterious entity, located in the nirvana that is California, works. I do know their ability to do future business with me is seriously curtailed, as I add them to my blocked bidders list.

More likely it's not so much they don't understand. I don't know what it is. I do know that this is only a problem with a very small percentage of my overall customers - literally 1% or less.

A long time ago I had everything marked "immediate payment" required. All that meant was that if a buyer didn't pay for an item immediately, someone else could come along and buy it - the item remained in inventory until it was paid for. When immediate payment is NOT required, an item is taken out of inventory immediately when it is bought, whether the buyer pays or not. I stopped requiring immediate payment because it made it difficult for buyers to buy multiple items. Now I only mark it on items that are expensive, and then only if I think about it.

So, anyway, that's my unpaid item policy. A friendly personal reminder after 7 days. After 10 days open an unpaid item case with eBay, after 14 days (if no response from buyer) close the case, get FVF refund, and block the bidder.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

1953 Franklin Half Dollar

Selling coins is very new to us. Normally we stick to postcards and antique photos, and a few other items we know about. We really don't know anything about coins, we don't have a clue how to rate them.

In our descriptions we make sure the buyers know that we don't really know how to rate coins, we put a good picture of both sides that can be enlarged so they can make their own judgments, and we research the best we can, so that we're not totally in the dark.

Its worked pretty well. We've sold several in the last week and received good feedback from the buyers.  All of these coins are from a consignor who has a bunch of stuff to sell (including all these coins). Expect to see more of them as time goes on.

This is a 1953 Silver Franklin Half Dollar, and as of this writing it is still active, so if you want it now's your chance. Just click on the title to go to the listing.

People of a certain age are old enough to remember putting these in coke machines - and getting 40 cents in change.  The Franklin Halfs replaced the Walking Liberty Halfs in 1948.   In 1964 they were replaced by the Kennedy Half which honored JFK, who was assassinated the previous year.


The Reason For This Blog

The purpose of the blog is just to document my thoughts about buying and selling on eBay. I had been doing this in another blog I have going, but decided to segregate the two.

A secondary purpose is, over time, to drive a bit more traffic to our store. Every little bit helps.

A tertiary purpose (if that means what I think it does) is to advertise some of the items we have for sale.

That's what this blog will be about.

1st Post

I've decided to start a blog about my eBay experiences. We'll see how it goes. I've also decided, for now, to have entre card functionality on the blog, but I'm not going to be a fanatic about it.