It's worse than that Jim, it's a really stupid idea

Some more thoughts on collecting, bidding and my experiences:

True meanings

I've heard "A good piece for a beginning collector" a few times on TV programmes (on the BBC which has lots of antiques related programmes these days; In other areas the BBC also has lots of similar programmes and even 'Big bastard' type programmes. Two signs of the BBC's decreasing quality, unfortunately). I wonder if they've given any thought to the fact that collecting is a bad idea and in almost all cases pointless. Maybe it would kill most of the (non-internet) auction system if they talked about this on TV? If you think about it, people often collect things for no good reason. In particular I can't understand why anyone would collect porcelain/pottery. What for? And what if it falls? Do you dare use that 500 quid plate? You should at least be able to use something you buy. On further reflection I find buying expensive paintings and high priced art in general to be utterly moronic. These should be in museums, what's the point of hanging them in your house, or even worse, vault? Why not a reproduction? Originals are only useful to study. And what happens when a collector quits collecting/is forced to sell/dies? It all gets separated and sold and his collecting mania will have had no meaning, particularly as the collector himself doesn't really enjoy the stuff but is always in a collecting fever to get more (don't deny it, it's true).

A bad experience

I once went to a guy who had various BBC stuff (he sent a list of books, magazines, hardware), and indicated he would be willing to sell me items I was interested in, and he had no price in mind yet for the lot. I was particularly interested in one piece of hardware and said so on the phone. When I got there he had a few magazines I was interested in, a couple of books, and various leaflets etc., but where was what I especially came for? Well, he didn't see it with the other stuff, and hadn't tried to find it! He wouldn't go look for it, and when we got round to negotiating a deal he suddenly only wanted to sell in one lot for a huge amount... I didn't want that, esp. as what I was really after was not there! I finally convinced him to sell a few magazines in particular (for way too much, but at the time I was nearly a collector), despite comments he made like "if I offer the rest for sale, someone is bound to want exactly the issues you want", and "selling these few mags is not helping me"! (but it sure would help me!)

Other stuff he would not let go, saying "It might be a collector's item!". Yes, it might, but he as the seller should find out first then! (and they weren't collector's items btw.). This was especially bad as I first told him about what I was doing with this BBC stuff (putting scans and images on the web), and that there was still interest in BBC stuff. Then he came with "well, as you say there's still interest, this might a collector's item" So, he was abusing the information he got from me...

Moral of the story: don't go without first agreeing on a price and ask explicitly if you can get part of the collection offered, even if the seller said so himself. If it's offered for free, this doesn't apply, obviously.

This left a sour taste in my mouth for a very long time. Donations are very welcome of course, but I will pay a decent price for things I'm interested in, and I will in fact pay a better price than most other people are prepared to pay, so I was disgusted at the "it might be a collector's item" tactic to more or less 'force' a too high price.

I should have restricted myself and said "I won't do business with you", and if a similar situation comes again, I will do this, whatever goodies such a person has.

More bad ones...

Do you really want to know? Well, I could tell of some cases when people offer something for free or for sale, then never reply again to any emails (or even phone...). I even email them asking if they want to keep the stuff, could they let me know. No response. Missing one email is possible, multiple or even worse, phone, is not. Now I've told most of it already! Just one particular case with the phone to tell. If you ask me nicely :)

Almost forgot, I got screwed once by this guy whom I sent 10 quid and he never sent me anything!


 Jason May
 30 Carr Hall Rd,
 Barrowford, Nelson
 BB9 6BX

If you see this guy, please kick his ass and get me my 10 quid back. Well, you can keep the 10 quid for that... (+ postage + cost of getting the pound notes + effort + interest, so better make it 15 quid).

Good experiences

These fortunately outweigh the bad ones, see the credit section for people who helped me get stuff I'm interested in for free. This probably depends on what you do with whatever you're trying to get hold of though; if you're a collector who just wants to complete some collection, you're probably less likely to get things for free than if you're documenting like I'm doing.

Rarity is (usually) irrelevant to real value

I've already made the point in collecting part 1, that in many cases where the seller says something is rare, it actually isn't. In other cases the sellers even dare say "I've never seen one on ebay, so it must be rare!". Bollocks! That talk about rarity also assumes rarity (market or real) is related to value. This is/need not be the case. It's only so if you (i.e. the buyer in general) will pay a price based on this. In particular, upper and lower limits on prices in a free market need not and should not be arbitrarily high (upper limit) or 0 (lower limit). Limits should be based on other criteria. E.g. brand X is now priced many times higher because it's no longer imported? Screw you! I'll use brand Y, or even quit using it at all (whatever 'it' is). That's how you do it in that case. For the other case, when there's more supply than demand, it's unacceptable that suppliers sell stuff below production cost (this happens a lot in the market for RAM modules). And you should not want to buy something that's sold below production price. Or do you want to see businesses go bankrupt? (and you WILL be paying for that indirectly).

The following, in my opinion, are the only good criteria for value:

In the latter 2 cases, if something is rare, the price to pay because of rarity can be higher without much chance of later being disappointed...

Very bad reasons to get something:

Internet-auction bidding

Internet-auctions are highly annoying (*) and a big problem with this method for getting stuff, is that you have to wait for people to put things up for auction. There's no possibility (as yet) for 'wanted' ads. For me, wanted ads give material that does not usually (or very infrequently) appear on auction websites, like specific ICs, or magazines. People then contact me saying 'I've got this lying in the attic, and never though about it until I read your wanted ad'. This way I obtain various interesting material that I'd otherwise probably would not get hold of (or with extreme difficulty/effort/expense otherwise).

(*) for bidders that is; for sellers it's a very useful way to sell if you want to get rid of stuff within a short time. But if there's no interest or there are too many people offering the same thing then it doesn't work all that well. So, more or less by definition, auctions work great for sellers who want to sell items that do not appear very often but that are very much in demand. Sellers can however wait a good time to put up an item... So all in all, good for sellers, less good for buyers.

Nevertheless, internet-auctions are an essential element for getting hold of old stuff so here are some hints:

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