Saturday, 31 March 2012

Something for nothing

After being in this hobby for about eighteen months now and going to shows and fairs and trawling EBay and other sites I am, at last, getting a feel for the value of things.

When I buy on EBay I try to stick to a single rule...  not to pay more, including the postage, for an item than I would at a show. That price is arrived at by knowing the sort of prices for the ordinary stuff that's generally available.  If in doubt it is easy to check by doing a Google search and see what 'shops' are selling it for. The unusual pieces are more difficult and all I can do there is apply the same idea that if I was at a show what would I part with to own it.

The logic behind this is that I could buy the usual stuff at shows so there is no point in spending more.  The temptation pieces are the hardest things to rein in.

I just read some Etsy artisan talking about her stuff saying she doesn't sell on E-Bay because of the 'something for nothing mentality behind it'.  I sort of know what she meant but who doesn't love a bargain.  

During the last three months while I was away I bought quite a lot of EBay stuff to keep me happy as I couldn't actually work on anything for the house because I brought all my kit and tools and stuff back to the UK on our Christmas trip home.  I managed to snap up some real bargains.  I always love the 99p opening bid which I often do, in hopes no-one else makes an offer.  These have just got me my scales and my lovely binoculars.  Today's arrival was a brass record player.  I managed to snap the horn off within its first few seconds of its life with me - but a bit of epoxy resin should fix that.  Then I shall paint everything but the horn to make it look like wood etc.  I actually remember having one in the sixties.  It was all very Biba and Carnaby Street to own such a thing.  If you understand this you are English and a very particular age!  

Then I have a plethora of cheap but pleasant surprises like two very fine glass, screw top jars - the tops come off; they are in perfect scale and are a fine glass for £1.65. 

 I have a couple of signed wooden pieces which are truly beautifully made and under appreciated by their seller.  My photos do them as much service as did hers.  In life they are silky and finely detailed and lovely.  One is Palmer E Dougherty and the other just says EH 11 1977 (I assume is November 1977).  Even the signatures are finely worked.  They mean nothing to me and a Google search revealed a Palmer Dougherty piece being sold in an auction and was described as by 'the artist and miniaturist', so I am impressed by that.  No luck on the initialled one though.  if anyone knows anything, please share.  Not because I want to know they are worth more than I paid (well not entirely!) but because I would like to know the story of every item in my house if I could.

Just in case you think I am a total cheap skate I have paid real money for a couple of good things.  I have a collection of silks, leathers, feathers and trims to die for from Little Trimmings which set me back £24.37.  Her prices are excellent I just bought a lot.  The additional joy of these is that she kindly sorted out the leathers in my peacock colours and decided on which packet of mixed no-hole beads went best with the collection.  It is touches like that which makes a great seller.  She has a customer for life.  

Another expensive (for me) purchase arrived today and made smile from ear to ear.  They are three lovely (accurate to scale) pieces; a tea caddy, biscuit barrel and toast rack.  They are worth leaving the lids off and filling with black tea and ginger nuts. Worth every penny of their £11.03 cost.

In complete contrast to this I can show you the world's barmiest purchase.  We are great Dollar Shop customers in Naples - the logic being that if we are passing we may as well buy known brands from there for a buck than from somewhere else for more.  One of our regular buys are small packs of M & M's.  They have to be small packs because I have a brain which says if I have a pack of any given size it must be eaten in one sitting so jumbo (save money) type stuff just means I waddle.  Any way, these usually cost $1.24 from our grocery store and 74 cents from the dollar shop (yes, I know that's not a dollar - their name means 'nothing over a dollar').  Honestly we do get other stuff too.  So here's the mini purchase.....  I bought a huge purple basket (for collecting your candy eggs in when hunting at Easter) because it had this pretty trim on its tulle frill!  No idea what I want it for, but there you go.  The basket went on (complete with tulle) to a charity shop - so win-win all round.

Now I've finished crowing about how smart I am I will confess to succumbing to the 'something for nothing' mentality and say I may well have wasted thirty pounds!!!!! on wood trims.  Someone was offering dado rails, skirting board and picture rails for a quarter of the usual price - averaging out at around £0.40 pence per piece versus £1.20. I bought 20 skirting, 10 dado and 10 picture rails.  Thank heavens he was out of cornice or I would have bought those too.  I was bright enough to think they may not be the best quality but dumb enough not to know what this means in wood!  They are cheap, coarse wood which doesn't take kindly to being routed in mini-world scale.  My husband says the skirting boards may sand down well enough to be OK when painted but I am pretty sure I won't be struggling with the finer picture and dado rails.  I can't sell them on as I don't want anyone else to be unhappy with them, so it is a case of chalk this one up to experience and just punishment for being greedy and wanting 'something for nothing'.

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