Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Worst Signed Item.... Ever!

eBay item 2208501716 (Ends Dec-11-03 10:19:55 PST) - Star Trek Next Generation Tie SIGNED by CAST

Star Trek Next Generation Tie SIGNED by CAST.

This has to take the cake for the cheesiest and worst signed item ever offered for sale.

'Nuff said.

Friday, December 05, 2003

Will Space Autographs Come Down?

In one of the astronaut collecting listgroups, a member theorized that space autographs will get even more valuable over time as space exploration advances. Here are my thoughts:

I think there will always be a "bump" when current events warrant increased attention, and a Mars mission (and maybe even the Chinese mission) will draw huge interest to all space pioneers.

Someone used the Columbus and Charles Lindberg example with which I agree. But who remembers the 2nd guy to cross the Atlantic solo and when is the last time you thought to look for his autograph?

In the long run, I feel that only a handful of space pioneers will continue to draw interest except for the most devoted die-hards. In 50 years, there be interest in Gagarin, Shepard, and Armstrong. But I'm afraid that Alan Bean, Scott Carpenter, Owen Garriott, et al. will settle under the dust of time and history. Most of our archivally stored SPs will end up in estate sales or on dealer tables next to the shoebox full of silent film star postcards.

Hopefully I'll still be around to prove myself correct.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Auction House Rant

Unfortunately, for some autograph auction houses, there seems to be no drive to be a hallmark of authenticity, reliability, service and ethics.

They seem to think they deserve praise and respect simply because they exist, and do us the favor of conducting an auction.

One auction house that specializes in space and aviation had mass complaints regarding a recent auction that had numerous mistakes, forgeries, Autopens and items of questionable provenance. Yet, they plod on, clumsily explaining everything away and pointing fingers at everyone but themselves.

Where is their shame? Where is there sense of wanting to be good?

This is what happens when there is institutional arrogance and no competition other than eBay. Luckily for this specific auction house, simply existing is good enough. The sycophants and fanboys will patronize them anyway, and frankly, these people will get what they deserve -- bad service and spotty material.

Until collectors demand better, what we'll get is half-ass auction houses and snake oil salesmen who enter and exit the hobby like thieves in the night.

Rant over.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Ebay Hi-Jinx

eBay item 2197946147 (Ends Oct-26-03 18:05:08 PST) - Neil Armstrong Autographed Picture COOL !!

Here is an interesting lot. This is an undoubtedly real Neil Armstrong Autograph. Somehow, this flew below the radar and the winner, a friend of mine, picked it up for a bargain price of $90. This item could easily get around $1,500 if it was properly promoted. My buddy was excited and posted the story of his bargain in a few public message boards. Now, the story takes a bad turn.

Shortly thereafter, the seller informed my friend that the photo was accidentally torn and no longer available. Not too likely. What really happened was that someone contacted the seller and offered him more money for the photo. Unfortunately, there is nothing that anyone can do to "prove" this and force the sale to the rightful winner.

We can learn a lesson from this story... There are a lot of underhanded sleazeballs out there, and never brag about a great bargain until it's in your hands!

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Watch Out For Shill Bidding

While many people have been buying on eBay for some time, a lot of people still don't know about Shill Bidding. It's a problem that affects all areas of eBay, but you do see it often when there is a high priced collectible that may not be going as high as the seller wishes.

Shill bidding is when the seller under a different name (or someone working with the seller), pushes the bid up to get more money for an auction. Shill bidders can also raise the price high enough so the seller is satisfied, or shill bidders can "win" the auction so the seller doesn't have to let the item go to someone for a bargain price. In effect, shill bidding can create a hidden reserve. It's usually easy to see when this happens IF you know where to look.

When the auction is over, look at the bid history. A shill bidder usually places a number of small bids to push the price up. Remember, the shill bidder often doesn't want to win, so they usually won't place one or two competitive bids. Instead, you'll see something like five small bids all placed 2 minutes apart. If someone really wanted to win an auction, would they bid that way?

Also, shill bidders usually have zero or a few feedback points, because they never really win or sell anything. And yes, if you see a seller you suspect is using a shill bidder, check out their other auctions. Chances are you'll see 3 or 4 different zero feedback bidders that frequently bid on their items. These are all shill accounts.

This problem is epidemic. Go to eBay and check out the bid history on 15 - 20 completed auctions... I'll bet there are a few that fit this shill biding pattern.

I always check the bid history when I win an item, and if I think there was shill bidding I refuse the buy the item. If the seller was shill bidding, they won't have the nerve to report you for not paying.

Nothing in the history of man has brought out con-men, cheats and crooks like eBay. If there is a way to rip someone off, you can bet someone on eBay is trying it. It's much easier to rip people off when you don't have to look them in the eye and you can change identities with a few mouse clicks.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Automatic Signing Machines by Damilic Corporation

Automatic Signing Machines by Damilic Corporation

Ok... let's get some real content going here... 3 posts in one day... I'm on a roll!

The link above is for the company that sells the dreaded Autopen and Signasigner machines. For many years, these devices were a badly kept "secret", but few people actually knew what they looked like. Now they are on the world wide web for all to see.
OK... I'm getting the hang of it. Now all I have to do is put a link in my Autograph Gallery to the Blog. I'd prefer to have the Blog as a frame in my Autograph Gallery Index page, but I haven't figured that out yet ;-) I'm already saying goodbye to all the manual html updating and archiving!
I'm going to try the Blog thing instead of updating the html of my Collector's Journal. I think the Blog will make it easier, so ideally, I will update this page more frequently! Here goes...