January 30, 1999
Having been flat on my back with the flu all week, I am happy to be back amongst the living this morning, so that I could type with you.
FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF CHANUKAH WITH MONICA
Media of every stripe have been rife with Monica sitings, as the notorious Ms. Lewinsky enjoyed a sociable holiday season at various New York hotspots, accompanied by, alternately, her mother, her ghostwriter and her bodyguard. The tabloids simply amused themselves by reporting what and how much she ate. But, what about the other patrons in all the trendy restaurants, bars and clubs patronized by La Lewinsky? Well, some of them just stared, others surely must have jeered (there's no underestimating the capacity for bad taste and bad behavior of some folks), and still others, thinking ahead no doubt, were busy lifting a souvenir or two. The New York Post reports that Lewinsky paid for her drinks one evening at the Soho Grand Hotel with an American Express card, and that someone at the next table swiped the credit card receipt, presumably with her signature on it. I imagine that item might be a hot commodity right now, but thirty years hence, most people, when offered such an item for purchase, will respond by furrowing a brow and saying, "Monica Who?".
MAKING SURE YOUR NAME STAYS BEFORE THE PUBLIC DEPARTMENT
Oh dear. Such sturm und drang. eBay and other online auction venues, while pulling in millions in business every day, have been pulling in something a great deal less desirable - con artists and frauds. This is not news to us, is it Accumulators? But the media, especially television news programs, have been floating the story that the City of New York has been "investigating Ebay for fraud". Puh-leeze! No one who knows anything about how the online auction houses work would accuse any of them of fraudulent practices. The truth is that fraud is happening, but that eBay and the others are not party to it.
The nature of the marketplace is such that con men can hide behind the
anonymity of the computer screen (just like those nasty people who snipe at
each other in chat rooms or newsgroups), and honest people have been their
vistims. But the auction houses themselves have been working to protect
their customers against the cons (and also, let's be perfectly honest, to
protect themselves against liability - see eBay's newly revised User
Agreement), and have cooperated fully with all investigations. So, where's
the news? Well, for one thing, the FBI is now involved in the
investigation - a good sign I think, that the government is taking the
situation seriously. And for another, there's a message to us all that
television execs, as purveyors of an occupier of your time and arbiter of
your taste, are getting a bit nervous as they see you spending more and
more time in front of the PC screen instead of their screen. So, it is to
their advantage to make that brave new world seem treacherous. I say
buckle up your seat belts, folks. It's going to be a bumpy night. Stay
I STAND CORRECTED
In an earlier newsletter I reported that Sotheby's.com was about to become the first traditional auction house to launch an online auction venue. Fellow Accumulator Reyne Hogan of www.justglass.com was kind enough to let me know that Butterfield and Butterfield beat them to the keyboard, having joined forces with Live Bid (www.livebid.com) some weeks ago. While we're on the subject, I must tell you that Sotheby's has announced their new online auction venue will concentrate on the "lower end" of the market, dealing in items under $10,000. Those of us in the deep trash pit of the market (WAY under $10,000 per item) think that's amusing.
Women's history items, especially suffrage items Beauty product advertising items Cameos Star Wars collectibles Lalique
So, Accumulators, I'm looking forward to seeing the outside world again.
Tonight Artie and I are planning to attend an auction by Roberson's
Auctions in Pine Bush, New York (highly recommended, not just for the high
calibre of their merchandise, but for their honesty and charm as well).
You bundle up (or not) and have a great weekend. Happy Hunting!
© 1999 Judith Katz-Schwartz. All rights reserved.
Antiques and Collectibles Newsletter #71
U.S. Library of Congress
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