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Sunday 2 October 2011

ebay or how to lose faith in the free market

A dozen years ago, I decided I would not get involved with ebay. I would send material on approval to collectors who became regular clients and I would take Stands at stamp fairs around Europe. Since that decision, I have looked at ebay listings maybe three or four times and I have never bought anything on ebay.

Today I took a look at ebay's current Ukraine listings. I wanted to see if any material from the Zelonka sale has appeared there. No, is the short answer.

The long answer is that I trawled through 31 pages of New Issues, forgeries, stamps in poor condition and crazily overpriced items. Everything I sell for a pound or a euro seems to cost twenty on ebay, with the difference that mine are (a) genuine and (b) in good condition.

Of course, you will say, the free market allows people to offer crap but buyers are equally free not to buy it. I have the horrible feeling that buyers do buy. Why else would sellers go through the labour-intensive process of putting their fantasies on line?

Maybe ten percent of the listings are from collectors/dealers who know what they are doing and know what their material is worth. Some of it I recognise - they got it from me and have simply doubled the price. I don't have a problem with that.

Anyway, next time someone asks me for a discount on my one euro stamps I'll tell them they can go buy it on ebay for twenty bucks.

1 comment:

  1. I think this is very fair comment. I am always depressed by the very obvious forgeries finding willing buyers for high prices on eBay. There are now so many people scouring the listings that rubbish like that will get sold.

    eBay has been good to me personally over the years. I've found some fantastic items there, but the competition is now getting murderous as more and more informed buyers are looking at the listings.

    Prices are all over the place. I've seen fabulous prices paid for inflation RSFSR covers, for example, but I've also seen very good items go unsold at low prices. It all just depends on who happens to see the listing.

    As for the forgeries...Armenia seems to attract very productive forgers, and I've now stopped collecting pictures of fake Nikolaevsk-on-Amur surcharges as there are just too many! I still buy nice material there regularly, but the true miracle finds of 5-10 years ago are gone forever.