Anyone who has been buying and or selling stamps will know that eBay is a platform with a lot of opportunities.
Thousands of sellers list tens of thousands of stamps, first day covers, covers, mini-sheets and other items of philatelic interest.
You have to be careful about what you buy of course. Some are advertised as ok but the picture shows a missing corner, an obvious tear or significant toning discolouration.
Overall, I have been very happy with my eBay purchases by taking a few precautions. Here are a few loves and hates:
- Use a scanned image!
- Do NOT take a photo with your camera and smartphone unless you’re very good at manipulating the image so it appears ok on the page. If it’s a small image I just ignore it and move on.
- Scan and display the back of the object as well as the front.
- Buy from sellers who have a good rating. 90% is not a good rating, 99.5% is.
- Quote reasonable postage fees. Sometimes they are more than the cost of the item.
- Write a good description. L@@K! is not a good description. I blow right past those immediately.
Well, I got distracted there with that little rant. It’s time I moved on to the main subject of this post which is the international nature of eBay and how it pays to know what’s what.
I use ebay.co.uk almost exclusively. At least I did. There are listings from the UK, the US and sometimes from continental Europe.
But I found something interesting. Ebay doesn’t list all the items you might be focussed on if they are in different markets.
Ebay.com, for instance, indexes many sellers from the UK but we don’t see many from Canada either on the .com or over here in the UK. We have to go to eBay.ca to see those.
So does this matter? It did to me. I am very keen on full sheets of post-independence Nigerian stamps as you may know if you read this blog at all. Out of interest, I logged in to eBay.ca and found a ton of such sheets! I bought 16 of them for around £5 each, with some duplicates that I can resell. That’s what I call a find.
So I thought I’d look at the different eBay sites to see if I could learn any lessons. I’ve checked sites from the UK, USA, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Australia and New Zealand. Later I may branch out.
I immediately go to “Recently listed” and then to “Ending soonest” for a quick check of the last 24 hours, otherwise you could go through 1000s. Listings vary, mostly the UK of course, with quite a few US and some others. You can click “Completed listings” on the left-hand menus if you want to find out what things have been selling for.
There is one annoying thing, particularly with the UK site. When you click on a listing and then click back to the main search, it takes ages to load all its ads etc. before you can scroll down. This doesn’t seem to happen on other eBay sites.
You can get over this by holding the Cmd key (Mac) or the windows or Ctrl key (Windows – you’ll need to check this) while you click on the listing. This forces the page to appear in a new tab window.
Here many of the listings are from the UK, as Nigeria was a British colony and most collectors will be UK and Commonwealth. Completed listings are Completed Items here.
The Canadian site is a lot more multinational, with listings on the first page for Nigeria in “Stamps” from the UK, US, Thailand, Romania, France, Australia, India, Sweden, Singapore and Brazil. I even found a couple from Canada!
This eBay site just seems to have a much wider range of sellers from different countries than the others.
I used to think eBay.ca was California, which is quite funny now. Well, it is the 5th largest world economy by GDP output. Somewhere along the way the idea that it was Canada seeped into my brain and I did wonder why so many Nigerian stamps were on sale in the Golden State.
The Australian site again has mostly UK sellers, with some local. And Completed Listings are Completed Items again.
The NZ site doesn’t seem to exist as a separate entity and if I put in ebay.co.nz it keeps defaulting to eBay.com each time. I think eBay Australia may have an arrangement to promote a more NZ-centric site, but it’s not there yet.
Foreign language sites are a little more challenging but it’s easy to learn the few words we need to know for philately.
Here it is “Timbres” we are looking for. “Durée – ventes se terminant” is our ending soon and “Durée – nouveaux objets” is newly listed.
Légère(ment) charniére is lightly hinged, sans charniére is not hinged. Utilisé is used. Neuf sans charniére is MNH. Enchère is a bid and Achat immédiat is buy it now.
Most listings are “Provenance: Royaume-Uni” – from the UK
Here we are looking for “Briefmarken”. Postfrisch is mint. Gestempelt is used or cancelled. Sammlung means a collection. A reasonable of listings are from Germany itself.
Sofort kaufen is buy it now and Gebote means bid. Bald endend is ending soon, neu eingestellt is recently listed.
Here stamps are “Francobolli”. Usato appears to mean ending soonest and Nuovo newly listed. Usati may mean used in the plural. Compralo subito means buy it now. NUOVO SENZA TRACCIA DI LINGUELLA I think means new without hinges e.g. MNH.
Here in Italy’s site, quite a number of the sellers are Da Spagna – from Spain. Da Stati Uniti is from the US and Da Regno Unito is from the UK.
Here, stamps are “Sellos”, Compralo Ya! is buy it now, envio is postage, puja is a bid. Hora: primeros en finalizar is ending soonest and Hora: de publicación más reciente is newly listed.
Sin montar o nunca montada I think is unmounted, menta mentado is mounted mint. Utilizado is used.
Stamps are also estampillas it appears. Estampillada may mean cancelled, i.e. used.
From a user’s point of view, the eBay algorithms need a bit of consideration. UK, France, Germany and Australia all give predominantly UK results.
The US site also gives mostly UK results with some US and with surprisingly few Canadian results, considering they are just next door. The Canadian site has a wide variety of sources for sellers, much wider than any other site I checked.
The Spain site gives mostly UK results, but the Italy site is more varied, with quite a few Spanish results.
The upshot of all this droning on is that if you stick just to ebay.co.uk then you’ll only get a selection of results. You have to accept what eBay thinks is best. I have bought very cheap stamps from Australia which were post free and a quarter of the price on .co.uk.
So if you’re keen on specific stamps then it’s worth having a look around to find which one of eBay’s sites is the best one for you. For me it’s Canada, I have no idea why.
Maybe I’ll move on to check eBay Moldova or Azerbaijan or Togo or….