Collection Spotlight – When eBay Goes Wrong

For over ten years, eBay has been a daily part of my life and has proven itself time and again to be a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, we collectors have access to items from all over the world that we might not encounter without online auctions. On the other hand, having access to items all over the world on a regular basis can really drain the bank account. I am always shocked by my monthly total on the “Items Won” section of “My eBay.”

Traditionally, I have found myself paying far more for items on eBay than I would in person. I guess there’s a sense of urgency and paranoia that once the auction ends you will never see the item again. Add onto it the sense of competing with the entire world and one can go a bit crazy with the bidding.

If there is one thing that 10+ years of collecting movie memorabilia has taught me, it’s that stuff always shows up again. It may take 5 years, but the poster or photo that got away on eBay will be yours eventually (esp photos which the studios printed and distributed in large quantities). Still, sometimes bidding can get out of hand and we are left with the consequences.

Which brings us to the week’s Collection Spotlight. I bought this still from The Way to Love a few years back on eBay. Behind the scenes shots are always pretty cool, but this particular photo showing Ann and director Norman Taurog is especially striking. Not only is the lighting very dramatic, but the two of them look so intense, you’d never know this was a comedy. I was so taken with this photo that I put in some ridiculous ceiling bid on eBay, never thinking that I would have fierce competition for it. While it is one of my favorite Ann-D photos, every time I look at it all I can think is “I can’t believe I paid 80 dollars for this!” Of the 845 photos I own of Ann, there are very few that I have paid more that $20 for, which is why this particular purchase was so painful, though I probably would have been really upset if I had not won the auction. Since then, I usually try to shy away from putting in high bids that I am not serious about.

The Way to Love was Ann’s first film in almost year, after walking out on her contract in July of 1932 to honeymoon in Europe. Warner Bros loaned her out to Paramount for this Maurice Chevalier musical, and interestingly, Ann replaced Sylvia Sidney who had been giving the studio a hard time. It’s a sweet film and a little bizarre, as early Paramount films tend to be, with Ann playing a forlorn gypsy.

Up next time…when eBay goes right.

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