Young Blood: The Beginning of a New Collection
My first purchase.
By Tom McKinney
This month, I was struggling to think of topics to write about. I 'm supposed to be a tech expert, but tech isn't always on the forefront of the rare book industry. There's the fact that I'm two generations behind the general demographic, and that other than my relation to my parents, I'm not particularly connected to rare books. I was a voracious reader as I grew up - and that's not to say I don't read anymore - but as the Internet took hold just as I reached adolescence, my reading attention has shifted there. So, I was stumped. About a week later, I decided on a relatively easy solution, and one I can tap more than once. I'm starting a collection, and I'm going to be blogging my experiences as they come. Over the years, I've been in a few situations where I apprenticed under someone fairly older than me; that's where the term "young blood" comes from and it's what I'm calling this column and collection.
After deciding that I wanted to collect, I needed to decide what! My initial thought was to the Gold Rush. Just a knee-jerk reaction. I'm interested, but my instinct was to perhaps look elsewhere. From there, I thought about the frontier, and then moved to Indians. I've always had a fascination and admiration for Native Americans, and love Western movies to this day. I decided this would definitely be something to look into. As an alternative addition, I decided I'd also search terms related to the first town I ever lived in, Falmouth, Massachusetts.
I already knew before I started collecting how I'd do it. I just wrote an article about the AE service MatchMaker last month and how it allows for more efficient, microscope-intensive searches. The other thing I decided on early on was that this is going to be a hobby for me; not a way to make money, at least not in the short-term. That being said, my limit for most purchases is $50. I say most because you never know when something special's going to pass by!
So I needed to create some "Wants" in MatchMaker. These are the terms you're looking for on a consistent basis. They're saved in MatchMaker and may be edited or deleted freely. The wants are allowed either as book title searches, or as keyword searches. They do exactly what their names entail.
Since I don't know many specific titles I'm looking for (or can afford!), I started with keyword wants. Initially, the first want I created looked like this:
Modifier 1: Dakota
Modifier 2: wyoming
I later went back and revised it to make two separate wants for Wyoming and the Dakotas since they're not the same areas.
My second and third wants also begin with the keyword "Indian" but have different modifiers. Ones I used were "Little Big Horn," and "gold rush." Another thing to note: in creating keyword wants with multiple words, a single word goes in each modifier box, and can be continued into the eBay Modifiers list as well for a maximum of six keywords (all must be present in a listing to match). I also added wants for a couple tribes, "Lakota" (Sioux), "Sioux," and "Commanche." As for my collecting alternative, I created wants for: Falmouth & Massachusetts, and for the town's county, Barnstable.
Young Blood: The Beginning of a New Collection
I fished here as a kid.
A night passed, and when I woke up I had an email from the AE Daily Alert letting me know that I had matches for my wants! Since I made more than a few, I had a lot of matches, about 300! That number quickly shrank, though, as I went through and perused my first matches. I noticed my searches had picked up a wide variety of items. These are just a few of what I looked at: an original pamphlet of Sioux Bible Hymns circa 1880 up for $1,500; about a dozen or so postcards from the first half of the 20th century related to Falmouth; a book on the history of Falmouth printed in 1930 for $16.99; and an original newspaper from the day Custer's defeat at Little Big Horn was announced for $245. A majority of my matches were also contemporary books and reprints. I also noticed some of my matches were attributed to a single seller on eBay, and none of them was anything I was interested in. MatchMaker has a solution for this problem so that you don't see that seller's inventory ever again. It's called the Kiss of Death, and it allows MatchMaker users to type an eBay seller's username in and blacklist it permanently! So I went ahead and gave my first blackball out.
I ended up buying the history of Falmouth from 1930. There's clearly more interest and a market for Native American items over an unknown little town like Falmouth, so the prices are marked up accordingly. I'm thinking I'll actually read this first book, though, and hold on to it as a keepsake. I do plan on collecting what I can of Native Americans.
MatchMaker's pace has slowed since the first night of matches. It found everything available the first night, and now only updates newly added lots. Ebay so far is seeing more activity than Abe, which makes sense because of the ever-expiring auctions.
I don't think I'd have time to collect if it weren't for this service. After the initial setup and review of your wants, it takes literally two to five minutes to review your new matches (today I had seven). I currently work two jobs, go to school part-time, have a girlfriend, and thoroughly enjoy video games. Yet I find that brief window each day, or every other, to check my matches. And it's a cinch.
This is a work in progress and I'll update again next month.