Collector's Corner

by Thomas Watson

E-bay/Auction Buyers Be-ware!

Many of our e-mails recently have been from fans who are interested in bidding on a wide-variety of items listed on e-bay (or other auctions) that are supposedly things that Lucille Ball (or members of her family) once owned... We do not mind sharing our opinion on these matters, but ask that you give us as much notice as possible. (One fellow asked us about something last week that was being auctioned less than an hour later. Luckily, we were at the computer when his query arrived!)

Many of the items are, indeed, legitimate, and are accompanied by some kind of legitimate letter of authenticity. Others are clearly bogus. The problem-items, of course, are those things that could feasibly have been owned by Lucy -- but could also merely be items that resemble (or are duplicates of) her belongings.

We said "legitimate letter of authenticity" above because we have seen such letters being issued by the person selling the item. That's okay if it is coming from someone who clearly knew or worked with Lucy, but when it's coming from people far removed from the Lucy world, it's not right! In those instances, a legitimate letter of authenticity needs to come from some third-person source: someone removed from the deal who can verify the item's heritage. (This, of course, becomes harder and harder as time goes by -- and as items change hands.)

In general, our advice is based on dollars... If someone is asking a huge price for something (which is often the case), be very careful. Ask questions! Ask as many people as possible for input. If, on the other hand, the price is nominal -- and you want to gamble -- go for it!

Sadly, there are a lot of people "out there" who create all kinds of fiction around common household items, claim someone important once owned them, and try to sell them and "make a killing." Again, be careful! To paraphrase an old expression, the money you save WILL be your own!

December 15, 2003

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