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  Shot of the Week Item number: 230102657756

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I wasn't planning on putting up another SOTW, but after having been forced to sit at a computer and write about cardiovascular physiology for months now, I need a break. 

Plus there's 3" of solid ice covering everything outside and it would be difficult getting outside for a pack of ciggies, let alone an excursion into the glasslands.  It's a VERY good thing that I don't smoke.

As many of you have pointed out, SOTW appears more and more infrequently.  Partly it's been an issue of time and Dick Bales has been nothing short of stellar playing guest Poo-Bah on several occasions.  Personally, I think he's way too nice a guy to write SOTW -- and he's a lawyer, is that an oxymoron or what??? -- but he can write a great column.  But both Dick and I have become increasingly disenchanted with eBay of late because there's so little to celebrate.  Not that there isn't great glass out there, far from it.  It's more about something I hear a lot of at shows, the assertion that "eBay has ruined the hobby". 

I was never quite sure what was meant by that.  To me, eBay has always been an an amazing phenomenon because it finally provides a way of acquiring rare glasses, it's a place to sell glass, it's a place to meet other collectors.  But something has changed over the past year or so and since SOTW has always been a thinly-veiled blog, I thought that this month I'd use it to take a walk around the elephant that's been squatting in the room for so many months now and try and figure out what species it is.  Maybe it's not even an elephant. 

So first here's the SOTW, then we'll talk about why it's a prime example of "eBay has ruined the hobby":

"Bright, crisp pre-Prohibition advertising shot glass, 2 5/8” tall, 2” across the top, with clear acid etched graphics on one side. Above and below an Indian and tepee, “Mackinaw Whiskey. Perfect for Family Use. John E. Cassidy & Son. Cor. Broad and Milk Sts. Boston, Mass.” “Perfect for Family Use”; great.

No reserve. The vertical rays in the picture are reflections. Very good condition.

There is a very small shaving off the top of the rim, about 90 degrees away from the graphics. It’s less than 1/8” long, and as deep as an index card is thick, maybe less. Otherwise a bright, distinct old shot glass. "


This was the latest in a series of stunning MA glasses put up for bid by Rick Ames.  We'll save consideration of why there are so many glasses from Boston surviving in mint condition for another time, but this is another unlisted glass with great graphics, classic SOTW material.  Predictably enough, it attracted a slew of bidders.  The snipers put the glass over the $200 mark in the final seconds and the bid history became an anonymous list of "Bidder 1", "Bidder 2", etc., but it's easy to finger usual suspects if you know how.    Hal Shapiro took the first half-hearted bite out of this one, but then blood_scythe (the latest in a long line of split personalities from OH?) smacked him over the head and took the lead, closely followed by lakerdude33.  The Dude then changed his mind and retracted the bid (what gives, Dude?  Think it's a fake??).   Six days later, old foe mrkmitch tries to unseat the scythe and gets nicked in the process, then rye2be wearing his wife's shorts takes over and brings the potential final bid to just under the three-figure mark.  At this point, blobtop69 takes a liking and stomps on Clint with the old one-two.  Now the_glassmaster can't let a bottle collector treat a shot collector that way, so I decide to have a little fun and take blobtop to his $100 limit, but before I can even refresh the page bluroc is biting my ass.  I debated going higher on this one, but we were already approaching silly money range and I knew there were snipes waiting in the wings.  Ultimately there were 4, with nuffie, Ed Sipos, and Bill A. all coming within a $12 of each other.  xxxtruk took it home for $215.49.

So why does this glass epitomize what's wrong in wonderland?  I think it comes down to two basic issues.

1)  These prices are completely nuts. 
Is the Mackinaw a $200+ glass?  You can come back with the "value is what people are willing to pay" argument, but I don't buy it any more.  This is not a $200 glass.  Would ANY of you pay that much if you came across it in an antique store, or a bottle show, or even on the sales page here or on Bruce Silva's or the Dennis' lists?   I don't think so.  If anyone answers yes, I swear I'm going to start making them in my basement.  This is a $70 or $80 glass.

So why is bidding on a glass different?  I think it has to be the "I have to take it home at any cost factor".  It would be easy to finger Kurt for this since he won this action, but there were a total of 4 bidders up there at the top if the list.  oldwhiskey was not there this time, but he could just have well have been.  Suppose Bill had taken the glass - would Kurt then dial $350 into the sniper next time around?  Probably.  And there'd be 3 other bidders on the next picture glass chasing Kurt over the $300 mark.  And so it goes on.  Where does it stop?  $400?  $500? $1,000?

I was listening  to an interesting interview on NPR the other day - it was with a reformed gambler who had lost $50,000 at the poker table, then took a break and went back and lost $50,000 more.  He explained that gamblers become desensitized to the value of money and the more they gamble, the more they bet without batting an eyelid.  We're doing the same thing.  Not that long ago, I had a sleepless night because I'd set up a $40 snipe on a Truog glass.    The sniper was on my work computer, so there was nothing I could do except swallow hard and see what the damage was first thing in the morning.  I laugh about that now - $40 is nothing.  I'd have to leave a $1,500 bid now to make a dent on dreamland.  I know, I know "you can't take it with you," but what are we buying???  Why do we do this folks?

2)  eBay has made glass too accessible.
Collecting pre-pro glass used to be fun.  It was hard to come by and one had to scour antique malls and shows, sign up for Bob Barnett's and Paul Van Vactor's lists, participate in glass auctions by mail.  It was a reason to take a day off work and go nose around the country side.  Finding even one glass per month (sometimes per year) was a major triumph.  I used to dream (pathetic, I know) about finding an antique store in which all they sold was pre-pro glass.  I could imagine the rows of gold-ringed treasures sparkling in the sunlight in the window as one approached from the street.  Just imagine what finding that store would be like?!  How would I be able to decide which few to take home? 

eBay has become that store full of glass.  We don't even have to leave home to find it -- the only effort involved is two or three mouse clicks and the only requirement for entry a credit card.  Buying on eBay is not fun.  I'm not even sure it's collecting.  There's so much glass on eBay, it's become about more about acquisition.  Throw a wad of money at the problem, and voila, instant collection.  We might just as well order "fine collectibles" from the Franklin Mint catalog.    We've become K-Mart collectors.

OK, I've had my say.  Maybe now that I've been able to identify what's been bugging me for so long, I'll be able to move on and the Poo-Bah can get back to issuing Golden Hayners for paying $32 for a crappy Clear Brook from Chicago.

Blame it on cabin fever.  I'd welcome a discussion on this one - the Chat Room is not very reliable at the moment, so send me an e-mail and I'll create a reply page here that becomes a part of the permanent archives.



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Last updated: Sunday July 08, 2007
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