Specializing in postcards and antique photographs

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Comic Linen Postcard - Love Thy Neighbor

This is a mildly risque Curt Teich comic postcard, from 1938.  I can tell the exact year it was created from a notation in the stamp box on the back.  Another clue to the general era is the partial view of an automobile behind a tent, and the card itself.  This is a linen card, and the linens date from roughly 1932-1952.

Many of the comics were not all that funny, but they do provide some insight & a little commentary (intentional or not) to the attitudes of the time.

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

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Late 19th Century Family

This is one of my favorite antique photos, and I'm not sure why.  It shows a man with a heck of a beard, a woman (I assume his wife) and a baby.  I always thought he was smiling at something, but it's hard to tell.  Also it's a little unusual because I'm pretty sure this was taken outside, not in a studio.

I belive this is an albumen print mounted on cardboard - and most of the mounting was trimmed away at some point in the past. 

I think it's an interesting picture.  I've had it for a long time, so maybe I'm the only one who likes it, but I find it interesting just the same.

Click on the title to go to the listing, click on the picture to bigify it.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

How we will cope with the future madness

On Jan 26th eBay announced changes in the fee structures for selling on their site, beginning March 30th.  A lot of sellers in the eBay community went ballistic, one going as far as to annouce they were putting all their stuff on sale, and would have a fire sale of sorts for anything that was left in March, and then would close down their store.  Well, if they had anything I wanted to buy, I guess that would be good for me.

I don't trust people who go ballistic.  Nothing ever remains the same, and anyone who expects everything to remain the same is living in some other reality.  Every year to 18 months, eBay fiddles with the fee structure.  It's going to happen, and we just have to deal with it.  Nothing I say or do is going to influence eBay, and if I decide to quit in protest, they would care less.   If I were a fly, they wouldn't even bother to swat me.

This change is major, however, and it's making us look at the way we do business.  I don't know if the way we do business is the best or not, but it works.  We make profit, and it provides a nice supplement to our income, but perhaps, especially with the rule changes, we could do better.  That's what we have to figure out. 

We'll almost certainly have to upgrade to a "Premium" store membership, because of our volume.  Right now we have a "Basic" store membership.  That means a $33 higher initial payment or so, and listing fees for store inventory are going up 2 cents an item.  But the auction fees will be reduced, and we've determined that if we make no changes & continue to do business the way we currently do, our total monthly fees will be fairly close to what they are right now - maybe a little more, or perhaps a little less, depending on sales and such.  So I'm not too worried.   If we stay with a "Basic" store and make no changes, our fees will go thru the roof, we would lose money.  So the forced upgrade is a bit of a no-brainer.

Last night, for the first time ever, we tuned in to an eBay internet radio town hall, where these changes were discussed.  The corporate people did a pretty good job of not really answering anyone's questions to anybody's satisfaction, or just giving back canned answers (see - I can be cynical).  A lot of the callers did a good job of being very rigid and unwilling to make any kind of changes in the way they do business.  

I'm sorry, but we won't be having any fire sales.  We're not closing down our eBay account.  We've tried other sites, and it's just not worked out for us, so eBay is what we have for now.  We'll figure it out and make adjustments.

Monday, January 25, 2010

1940s-50s Snapshot of a couple at a beach

This is a nice little snapshot of a couple having some fun at a beach.  Based on the styles I'd say it's from the 1940s or 1950s era.  Unlike many snapshots, this is actually a very good photograph - might have been professional.  I believe (but not sure) that it is Velox paper - the type of paper used can give an accurate indication of the date.  There is a stamped number on back, but nothing to identify the people or location.

Its a 3X5 inch picture (or close enough that it doesn't matter), and it's interesting to look at and think about. 

Click on the title to go to the listing, if you're interested.  Click on the picture to make it bigger.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mt. Rushmore, South Dakota, George Washington Profile & Measurments

This is a standard/chrome postcard showing a profile of the Mt. Rushmore carving of George Washington, including it's measurements.

It has a serrated edge, so I'm sure this was part of a booklet at one time.   Information on back lists Wall Drug Store, in Wall, South Dakota as the publisher.

Click on the title to go to the listing.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

CDV Two Women of Goteborg Sweden - with phone number

This is a CDV of two women from Goteborg Sweden.  The photo was taken by Alfred Back, who was a "Fotographi Atelier".  His address is listed as Goteborg, Sodra Hamngatan 59,  Platen Forvaras, with a telephone number of 5274.

We believe that a Radisson Hotel is now located at or near that address.  

Telephone service began in Sweden in 1877 - so this photo was taken after that.  This is the only CDV we have with a telephone number on it. 

The back has very ornate graphics - and that usually indicates a CDV from the 1880s-1890s. 

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

Saturday, January 16, 2010

CDV Apenrade Germany (Apenraa Denmark)

This is a CDV of a woman with books. The photographer was J. H. Door, and the location was Apenrade, Beim Nordermarkt.

Apenraa is located in Denmark. It was occupied by Germany from 1864 to 1920, and renamed Apenrade. This picture was obviously taken during that period, most likely in the 1880s-90s.

A little bit of history. Interesting.

Click on the title to go to the listing.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

How we coped with the recent madness.

I remember from my working life dealing with the "disaster recovery plan", the famous DRP. There were all kinds of levels, depending on the extent on the disaster. Something like a hurricane or tornado, or like what happened in Haiti, something that destroyed physical facilities and injured or killed part of your work force is major, and would involve, at least at my previous company, a nationwide response. My company was a business of course, their major priority was to meet (or exceed) their customers needs & expectations - to get processes up and running normally as quickly as possible. It could be very complicated, but that's why they paid us the big bucks.

My emergency was not nearly so comprehensive. My computer was rendered useless by a nasty trojan horse, or worm, or virus, I'm not sure. I described it in my other blog so I won't go into it here.

But, even though it was on a very limited scale, I had a disaster on my hands. I had obligations I needed to meet and my capabilities were severely reduced.

Monday we did not list any new items. Normally I print address labels and invoice statements - I send out an invoice statement with every item - but I could no longer print. My computer was physically hooked up to the printer & my wife prints from her computer thru our little network. None of that was working.

So Monday, for the first time in my 3 plus years of selling on eBay, I printed out addresses by hand, and wrote out a simple invoice, also by hand. That's how we recovered from the disaster of not being able to print.

My desktop computer was not functioning - at least not safely - so we unhooked it and brought down the laptop. We did a little router rewiring for my wife's desktop and she was able to get online. My laptop has a wireless card, so it picked it right up.

Later Monday afternoon I downloaded a printer driver to my laptop, and could print as long as the printer was physically connected to the computer. We still could not print from the my wife's computer, but for now, that it was ok. It meant that we were fully functional again, at least as far as our eBay business was concerned. Tuesday, even though I was using a laptop instead of the desktop, was a normal day, eBay wise.

I got the computer back Tuesday afternoon, complete with a re-loaded operating system, and we hooked everything back the way it was and lo & behold, it works.

I should have downloaded the printer driver earlier Monday, and I wish I had. But I still able to get things shipped to my customers. These were payments that had come in over the weekend, for the most part, and I had sent them all emails telling them I'd ship on Monday. I was determined to get their items on their way to them, and I did.

So, that's how we coped with the recent madness. This seems to be just one of a series of events happening this month that impacts our business.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

1906 Letter Card - Pop up Pig & Leprechaun

Its not every day you see a Leprechaun riding a pig.

This is a "letter card" from 1906. It closes up and is addressed & stamped but when you open it up a pig expands out with a drawing of a Leprechaun riding it.

This one was mailed on Apr 27, 1906 from Hartford, CT & received on Apr 28, 1906 in Addison, CT - there are postmarks from both cities. I looked on the USPS website and there does not seem to be a post office in Addison, so this is probably a DPO - a dead post office, one that was closed at some point.

The back of this letter card (not shown here) is in pretty rough shape, but the pig still expands nicely.

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

Update:  SOLD!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Valdese NC - From This Day Forward

This is a standard/chrome postcard advertising an outdoor play staged in Valdese, NC every August. I'm not exactly sure of the date of the card, but I would assume it is from the 1970s - maybe as late as the early 1980s, but most likely 1970's. It's a pretty little card showing a woman in traditional dress (traditional for the 1890 Waldesnsians that settled here, I presume), reading a bible.

The play is still performed every August.

Click on the title to go to the listing.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

CDV - A little 19th Century Men's Fashion

This is a carte de viste (cdv) photograph of a man with HUGE mutton chops. There is no writing on the card to give a hint of the photographer or location. We estimate the date to be 1880's at the earliest, because the backing is thick and the corners are rounded.

Men liked their facial hair in the 19th century, and this person might win a prize at the local fair's mutton chop contest.

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

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The first sale of 2010 - Dallas TX Chamber of Horrors

This gruesome standard/chrome postcard was our first sale of 2010 - purchased the morning of Jan 1. It is an exhibit at the Southwestern Historical Wax Museum at State Fair Park in Dallas, Texas. The picture depicts 4 men hanged in a barn, with the caption on front, "Wish You Were Here".

Information on back says this recreates an event which happened in Ada, Oklahoma on April 19, 1909, when a lynch mob took four suspected murderers from a jail to a barn and hanged them.

I could not find dating information on this card, but I'm estimating it is from the 1960s. The addresses for the publisher & manufacturer do not include a zip code. The card was written on but never mailed - and the mailing address (which it was never sent to) does includes a zip code. Zip codes came into being in 1963, but were not mandatory for awhile after that. It's probably from the '60s.

The first sale of 2010!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Some 2009 Sales Stats

I keep a simple excel spreadsheet to track the money generated by our eBay business. We started eBay in August 2006, and I started this spreadsheet in Jan 2007 - I found it was much easier to keep track of things. Also, I needed to be able to prove to myself & anyone else who cared that we were not losing money.

So, anyway, here are some stats for 2009.

First the money: eBay-wise our gross was 9.5% higher than last year, and almost 300% higher than 2007. Last year (and most of 2007) we rented booths in a couple of antique/collectible stores downtown, and we also had some sales on ETSY & eBid. Our total gross income was higher in 2008, when you include non-eBay activity. Renting and stocking booths was a lot of work tho, it took a lot of time and a fair amount of physical labor - I was surprised. We decided to concentrate on eBay, so we don't work the booths anymore.

Our net income is about 7% less than last year, again because we've all but stopped all non-eBay activity, sales wise.

Second, the customers: Domestically we shipped to all 50 states. The top 5 shipping addresses were located in California, New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Texas. That's no surprise, last year it was the same except Florida was 3rd & Pennsylvania 4th.

Internationally we shipped to 25 countries, alphabetically from Argentina to Uruguay. The top 5 international shipping addresses were in the UK, Canada, France, Australia & Germany. Over time, and with a larger volume, I have a feeling that we'd send more to Canada than anywhere else. So far everything has eventually made it to the purchaser. I ship within one business day of receiving payment, but sometimes it takes awhile to get there.

We picked up consignments again starting from October, after a lull of sorts. We do consignments by word of mouth mostly, we don't actively seek them out anymore. Consignments are a love/hate thing with me. They add another layer of work keeping track of the sales for the consignor, eBay and PayPal fees & our commissions. And it requires extra communication with people, I find myself defending eBay fees (which are not cheap) and you sometimes end up trying to sell things that you might not really care about selling. But on the good side, you can get a lot of ideas about what to sell, you get more experience with what sells and what doesn't, you get a bit of money for inventory you didn't have to buy, and sometimes you present the consignor with a really large check, and that's always nice. Our profits from consignment sales accounted for about 11% of our net profits in 2009.

Third, the things we sell. I track the items well sell. I know which subjects sell the most, and which get the highest price (not the same). I know how much we spend per item, and how much well sell it for. Occasionally I'll track a group of items down to the penny, just to make sure of expenses vs income. That's pretty tedious though, so I don't do it often. I also keep a sheet of customer requests - if I come across a postcard or a picture that includes a collie, or an antique clock, or an interstate highway, I know who to contact.

Stats are boring, aren't they?