Old Tut

British Heart Foundation in Streatham took delivery of a whole load of books this morning. A friend of mine is going to get a few boxes of Victorian song books dropped off on the weekend unsorted. I’ve kept a small number of the books I’ve taken in for personal pleasure, irrespective of value. I’ve also listed a tiny amount on Amazon. And about five minutes ago the first of them sold. It went to a dealer- possibly one that I undercut. They messaged me yesterday asking about condition. I said it was great. Now they’ve bought it. Maybe it’s a campaign to fuck over the newbie, and they’ll grump over the condition even though it’s spotless. Or maybe, just through scanning all the books in the boxes and isolating the ones selling for more than £10 I have opened a slow burn goldmine. Time will tell. Nothing I can do but keep listing. It’s The Duchess of Devonshire’s Ball. A personal account of one of the most scandalous parties of the late Victorian era.

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I’d have been there. Born in the wrong era.

Instead I went and loaded a bunch more boxes into the van today, out of the incredibly overpriced unit at Big Yellow Self Storage. The best stuff is at the back of the unit I think, but there is plenty to keep my interest in the stuff I hocked in to empty the van, even if the bulk of it is basically crap.

Today was mostly about wading through hideous porcelain cows and useless miniature collectible mini China cannons number 446543 or jugs too small to hold anything number 565334. From my childhood collecting comics I’ve learnt that as soon as someone tells you something is collectible, that’s when it isn’t. Edition 1 of every comic released when I was growing up is valueless, even though it had twelve different covers and some of them were holograms and you got the guy who did the art to sign it at a convention. It’s the unexpected ones that hold their value. Issue 12 is the first appearance of someone who became  important and the print run was significantly smaller, so it’s got value.

Some people started churning out porcelain in the early 1900’s and made it all look lovelynice but it’s neither valuable nor useful nor particularly attractive. It’s made to be collected by people who once had a valuable bit of china. It’s a cynical industry in many ways, and we see it across the board. By the time word has got around that something is collectible, the market had responded by mass producing that thing to meet the demand of all the people suddenly hoarding that thing in the belief it’ll appreciate in value. Occasionally there’s a fuck up at the plant and something is done weird and that adds value to an otherwise mundane item, but mostly, if it’s presented as collectible, it loses half or more of its value as soon as you buy it.

I’m going through a load of old tut right now. I’ve been thinking about that phrase, in this context. 1922, at the height of the Egyptology craze, they found Tutankhamen and Carter and Carnarvon died – THE CURSE. But the usual network of parasites would have snagged onto public interest in Egyptian artefacts and everybody would’ve been buying goldie looking scarabs from whitie looking Arabs insisting they were taken from the sand around King Tut’s tomb in an accent that touched Egypt by way of Wales. But people would’ve bought that piece of Old Tut, and it would have shrunk to a 24th of its value as soon as it left the hand of the salesman.

Old Tut. But at least, for the moment, my Victorian book has sold, even to a dealer. I’ll name and shame if they turn out to be fucking with me. That’s a small power I have with this blog. But maybe I should trust more.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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