I'm not sure how brutalised ebay is - I'm putting someone's kid through college, at least collectively.
I discovered ebay in late September while searching for Old Farmers Almanacs online. They had them and dating back considerably farther than I thought I'd find them. As it stands, I have an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of them. It was getting too confusing and I was getting repeats. I may need to part with a couple of those.
The oldest one I have to date is 1814 - yowza! They are really interesting, especially those very early ones. I have not been at all successful in finding any from the late 1700s. If anyone has them, they are not parting with them.
The Old Farmers Almanac started it but by no means does it end there. I briefly got into bidding on some of the crystal balls (that is an extraoridinarily broad term) and found a couple of montrously gorgeous flourites and one carnelian that is breath-taking. That was fairly short-lived, though - most come from the Asian countries and that is a long old haul for anything to come. It took about 55 - 60 days to get them. Yikes... I hate waiting for things and that was crazy. It also cost me as much in shipping as the item to get them.
At some point I realised that this would be a great way to get bank notes. Oh, boy! Is it ever, and guess what... there are plenty of other people thinking the exact same thing. This is where the brutality comes in. With Old Farmers Almanacs, the audience is very small. There is a certain amount of bidding done, but not too many people are all that interested in this particular thing. Bank notes are an entirely different story.
I would patiently bid on a note, and then five others would bid for it, and drive the cost up. There were times I'd be watching it as the countdown began and someone else would sneak in and suddenly bid on it with 15 seconds left, leaving me in the dust. I find now that I am the first one to engaging in sharking - bidding at the last possible moment to outdo another bidder. It is not nice and not very satisfying to do to others, but it often works. Gods know, it's been done enough to me.
So I now write down the coming due bids in my binder so as not to forget and then lay in wait for that last-second ambush to get the note or Almamac or whatever. The holidays have actually worked quite well in my favour for this... most people are busy enough to not manage getting away in time to look at whatever item they are watching or bidding on and I manage to get it.
Of course, I have discovered that this is also a great way to ensure that we will be blown out for some kind of call on Thursday night. Last week I had one active bid that I lost to being out on one of three calls. (I was very lucky, though - no one bid on the item and I asked the seller if he or she would relist it and let me know. The seller did and it is up tonight. I've already bid on it to show good faith on my part.) Last night I was watching two different notes that were ending ten minutes apart. We were on our way back from St. Clares as the first item closed and in the squadhouse when the second closed. Gone. History. Toast. I should have bid on them but never had the time.
I did get lucky. I had something else up for grabs at 2330, and I put in a bid for it as I knew I'd either be out or asleep. I'm glad I did. The novice that bid on it originally did so five days earlier and likely forgot. He or she never did see the email that s/he'd been outbid nor did s/he check on it. So although I'd gone to bed and then was called out at 2308, I won the item (an 1854 Rochester dictionary! US$10.00 - WAHOO!).
Tonight at 1912 one bid is ending on an 1870 Old Farmers Almanac, at 2252 on an 1899 Old Farmers Almanac. Tomorrow there is a 1315 bid on one New Zealand dollar and another bid at 2003 for an Ulster bank note. An Ulster, Ireland bank note. Tell me that is not the coolest thing? I'm waiting for a couple of Isle of Man and Northern Ireland notes, among many others! Maybe today's mail...