AT Inbox: EBay anonymity, priceless to me, and future collectibles

Dear Robyn,

This is in response to your question of the week… what are you collecting that you feel will someday be a collectable…  I have been meaning to email you on what I am collecting…  telling people THEY ARE MISSING IT…

I call it the TAG WAR….    Have you seen the manufacturer’s tags on teen clothing lately? The manufacturers are going out of their way to catch the eye of the buyers. They are AMAZING. Check out any department store, especially the higher end, mostly jeans – especially guy’s jeans.

They are made from plastics, wood, cardboard, canvas, jeans material, metal dog tags, leather. There are little purses, flowers, organza bags with a bracelet with a logo charm, they have metal rivets, embroidery, metal manufacture insignias all kinds of ART on them to catch the eye.

They are just amazing and interesting. I have been collecting them for over a year now and have over 100. DIFFERENT interesting ones. It is fun and free. I feel they will be a treasure not in 50 years but in the next 5 to 10 years – IF anyone will notice them and stop just throwing them away.  I am so glad you asked the question. 

Laurie Johnson
Highwood, Mont.

Hello Karen —

In think bidder anonymity is a good idea. It should have a positive effect on bidders. Personally, I don’t want to know the people I’m bidding against. This way I can bid freely and not feel guilty about bidding against someone I know.

Further, I don’t like the idea of my user ID being made public whether I’m the under bidder or the winning bidder. If an under bidder’s IDs is hidden – why not the winning bidder’s. In a live auction, a bidder is given a number, not a name. No one knows who the winning bidder is except the auction company – in this case, the seller of the item. Only the seller should know the winning bidder’s user ID.

I’ve been buying and selling on eBay since 1998. As a buyer, I soon discovered that I was bidding against a number of my collector/friends – I knew their user IDs. We were, and still are, members of the same collector organization. If one of my friends was the high bidder on an item, I held back bidding on it for courtesy’s sake. My friends did likewise for me. I didn’t want to force the price up and make a friend pay more. I waited until the last minute to bid with the hope that someone I didn’t know would outbid my friend. Sometimes we both lost – another buyer would outbid my friend in the last few seconds. It was frustrating to lose when I knew I would have paid more than the winning bidder, but didn’t bid because a friend was involved. Some time ago I heard another avid eBayer say:  “All’s fair in love, war and eBay!”

In the early days of eBay, it was possible to leave feedback multiple times on the same item which, of course, was dishonest. Sellers were trying to collect as many positive responses as they could. EBay found a way to prevent that. They found a way for bidders to hide their feedback behind the word “private.” They found a way to hide under bidders’ identities. They also found a way to prevent sellers from leaving negative feedback for buyers. I’m sure eBay will find a way to prevent sellers from bidding on their own items. They may have that problem solved already.



I would just like to make a few comments on the letter from M Kellow in the July 23rd issue. 

They dislike the practice of “last second” bidding. The fact is that is the nature of almost all Internet auctions. They end at a set time and the bidding goes until the very end. I don’t understand how that affects the selling price as if you have several lookers who bid at the end it is the same outcome as if they bid sooner.

Then to say that buyers try to steal their items by winning them for the starting price is outrageous. If they lost valuable items to low bids it is them that is setting the starting price, not the buyer. If you are selling quality items at a fair price they should sell without giving them away.
I have been selling on eBay for almost 10 years now and love every minute of it, low priced sales to the exciting jackpots.

Maybe they should find another venue to sell on and not blame the buyers on eBay for just bidding on what is offered.

Ed Maranger
Kenosha, Wis.


You are correct in saying that eBay is discouraging seller with its recent restructuring.

The negative vibes are felt in the downturn of eBay activity and lower eBay stock values. I am a minor seller on a minor scale and I know my buyer interest has dropped a lot in the recent weeks. The new eBay management is going the wrong direction for building the eBay company.

Elizabeth Bow

Hi Robyn,

I am a 45-year-old woman who sometime during her childhood lost her “Mrs. Beasley.” I searched high and low for several years before giving up, I must have taken her to Salvation Army as I do donate a lot there that I no longer can use or wear.

My mom, sister and I go garage sale shopping and estate sale shopping when we can and have a small eBay store. The last few times I did not go and stayed home to enter items into eBay. My sister also was at their home.

My mom was coming to town to run some errands; she definitely needs one of those “I brake for garage sales” stickers on her car! She stopped at one and saw a pile of dirty abused dolls and went to check it out as she knew how much I wanted to get another vintage, not the new issues, but the real ones, and she dug through that pile of dolls and said she saw the dots on a Mrs. Beasley’s butt sticking up in the pile and she hurriedly dug her out.

She was filthy. Someone had tried to repair her voice box and could not, so they used this funky yellow flowery material and sewed her back up. That piece of material did not match her at all, but Mom grabbed her anyway and went to the person holding the sale and asked how much for the doll. A man states $3 and my mom said, well she is filthy and doesn’t have all her clothes or glasses, and the man said, OK $1 – but hurry before my wife comes out and chews me out. So my mom handed him a dollar and left in a hurry headed for my house.

She knocked and I opened the door and we walked into the kitchen and she handed her to me. I screamed! Literally! And I hugged my mom 6 times at least and I had goose bumps from head to toe. Mom took her home with her and sewed her up better and cleaned her up as good as she can be, and the dirt actually preserved the color in her cheek and face. Then she brought her back to me.

I still get goose bumps from that day and when I look at her sitting here by my computer and when I think of my mom doing all she did, finding her, sewing her up, cleaning her, and she has even bought her jewelry that is old and meant for a child, and summer and winter clothes for me.

That is my find story. My mom, just like her, made my dream come true. I have my version of Mrs. Beasley, I call it the hippy style as I have a baby’s band around her head, a vintage barrette in her hair, a cute babies outfit, socks, an old silver child’s bracelet around her ankle, a rainbow pin on one sock and a cat with a halo pin (that I wore to my grandmother’s funeral on my mom’s side) pinned on her little top, and a silver choker style necklace.

She sits on my printer day in day out, smiling at me and bringing me much joy. Thanks to my mom who spotted her little butt sticking up in a pile of old dirty dolls at a garage sale about 2 years ago. I love her just as much or more than the original one I had – mainly because of all the effort my mom put into fixing her up for me. As I write this, the goose bumps have returned.

That is my story. Thank you for letting me share it!

Susan Wells
Paris, Texas

Greetings from the California San Joaquin Valley,

I read with interest and such a feeling of affinity to your friend “Anne” your article about value. I am a collector, hoarder and obsessive/compulsive type person and have many items that fit your description.

I “retired” from the corporate world in 2003 and have started organizing and downsizing my stash and have the most difficult times disposing of what I know are “worthless” items to anyone but me. After much agonizing, however, I have been able to incorporate some of these treasures into memory albums and recently began placing them into “altered” books.

It is amazing how a small key to a diary I had in 1968 can become a charming and valuable inclusion on a page in an altered book, with a small ribbon tied through it and pages from the actual diary used as background. Glitter and paint and cut-outs from old magazines, a few ticket stubs from concerts of long ago and these items become little works of art.

There are always those articles that I simply cannot part with, alter or destroy by using them in this way. The pressed, dried flowers and ribbons from my first corsage as a teen. The keys and real estate tag from our first home. These quite worthless things return to their hiding places in old cigar boxes along with their links to my past. And perhaps in years to come someone else will buy at a tag sale my treasures, find them lovely simply because they are “old,” and take them away to begin their own collection.

Peggy Friesen
Dealer #11
Antique Avenue
915 E. Yosemite Ave
Manteca, California 95336

I have two items that probably have value, but are priceless to me. One is a brass clock retrieved from a ship my father served on during WWII. The ship was sunk in bomb testing after the war.  This is my connection to him, now deceased, and his 30 year military career. 

The second is a tiny leather covered dictionary printed in Germany that was my mother’s. She acquired it from her father.  Mother is 96 now, and suffers with Alzheimers, but she remembers the dictionary, although not where she got it.

Ethel Geary