Saturday, April 23, 2005

Ephemera

I have joined the ranks of eBay users. What fun! So long to all that stuff hangin’ round in my world, which I haven’t used for a decade, or which has been stored in my warehouse, making a mess of things. Items I felt I needed to keep, but which I have come to realize I have absolutely no use for. Items, however, that someone out there is pining for.

Take, for example, an approximately 9000 lb. 1950s vintage gas furnace, last used as the heater in one of the retail stores in my commercial building, “Christmas In The City”. Turned out, with all the Christmas lights constantly burning in that store , no heater was needed. The store was actually heated, year ‘round, by Christmas lights! So, at my tenant’s request, I removed it, lugged it to my warehouse, where it shall sit for millenia, unless I find a buyer, which I have, on eBay. What a relief. Plus, the buyer gets a very cute furnace, to spruce up and put in a beach house, or somewhere where it will be appreciated.

Of the things I have for sale, many are hardware, that is, furniture, appliances, commercial equipment. But there is one item, or items, which I have been briskly selling, more closely associated with the term our friend Nancy has used in description, “ephemera”.

My Father, Bob Seaberg, who passed away in 1993, was a collector of movie star’s autographs, as a boy. And would you believe, he kept them all of his life. When he gave them to me, a few years before he passed away, I felt as though I had been given a pretty neat gift. They are mostly photos with autographs, on heavy photo stock, black and white or sepia, all in excellent condition, Lucille Ball, Jimmy Durante, Warner Oland (Charlie Chan), and lesser known actors and actresses, like Robert Montgomery, Ellen Drew, Jean Parker. They all sat in an envelope in the bottom of my file cabinet for about 15 years, until quite by accident, I ran across them a few weeks ago. Thumbing through the photos, I thought, “I bet there are collectors out there who would love to have these”, and my eBay career had begun. That, and the fact that I am not particularly fired up by autographs myself, made me do it. While it is true that for some, these photos and autographs are greatly revered, for others, they are less significant. Perhaps it could even be said that, as "ephemera", they have no significant lasting value. The value of autographs and photos like these is purely the value that a collector will put upon it.

Lucille Ball went first. A very cool photo of Lucy as a startlet, a 5”x 7” sepia, circa 1934, signed, “To Bob Seaberg, Sincelery, Lucille Ball ”. Sincelery. (Oh Lucy!) Those wacky eBay autograph seekers bid her up to $125. I did the deal with the buyer, and sent her off to San Francisco, insured.

A couple of days later, I received a lovely email from the buyer, a big Lucy fan, who stated that he had placed her on his wall of framed Lucy photos. I am so pleased that this one, at least, has found a great home, much better digs than the bottom of my file cabinet. I am certain that my Dad would be pleased to know that the photos will be greatly appreciated, and the fact that I am going to use the money to further my business.

As I read the buyer’s email, I could see that he was nearly ecstatic about his new photo, waxing on about his collection and Lucy. He closed with, Sincelery, John.

No comments: