Egg collectors of all shapes and sizes

or Meet the Ebayers #2

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/lincolnshire/7324397.stm

Good news yesterday as one of the UK’s small but disproportionately damaging band of egg collectors was sent to prison for 23 weeks. Richard Pearson, a 41 year old painter and decorator was also fined a paltry £1,500 – which given that when police swooped on his house they discovered an egg collection numbering over 7,000 eggs, works out at a miserly 21 pence per egg fine. Species represented in the enormous haul included Avocet, Black-necked Grebe, Black-tailed Godwit, Chough, Golden Eagle, Little Tern, Osprey, Peregrine and Red-throated Diver. Back in January, Pearson denied all the charges laid against him – a baffling state of denial when you see what greeted investigators in his house:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/pop_ups/08/uk_enl_1207064862/html/1.stm

He claimed he had been given the eggs by the notorious egg collector Colin Watson. (Watson, you may recall died in tragic but irony-infused circumstances when he fell out of a 40 foot high larch tree while climbing to “look” at a Sparrowhawk nest in 2006). However, handwritten diaries enabled investigators to match individual eggs to specific incidents, and Pearson finally pleaded guilty yesterday at Skegness mag’s court to two counts of possessing wild birds eggs and three counts of taking eggs from the wild.

So Pearson will be out of commission for the coming breeding season, for which we and countless rare breeding birds can breathe a collective sigh of relief. Will 23 weeks in prison and £1,500 be enough of a lesson to stop him from re-offending in future? It’s a compulsive activity, egg collecting, and clearly addictive. Watson, by the time of his death had amassed several convictions for egg collecting spanning 14 years, and had been fined in excess of £4,600. You do the math.

Which leads me to a bizarre subculture – replica egg collecting. You what? Yes, good old Ebay is the shopfront for scores of buyers and sellers of replica, hand-painted wild birds eggs. For example, meet widdildenny: http://myworld.ebay.co.uk/widdildenny/.

The following is a sample widdildenny sales pitch for a replica Little Tern egg:

“FOR AUCTION A VERY GOOD REPLICA OF A LITTLE TERNS EGG.THE EGG WHICH IS HOLLOW AND MADE OF A MANMADE RESIN IS CORRECT IN SIZE,SHAPE,COLOUR <painted by myself> AND FEEL OF A BLOWN EGG,WITH BLOW HOLES AT BOTH ENDS.WILL BE WRAPPED IN BUBBLEWRAP AND PLACED IN A CARDBOARD BOX FOR POSTING WHICH WILL BE FIRST CLASS RECORDED.POSTAGE DISCOUNT GIVEN ON MULTIPLE PURCHASES.JUST £2.99 STARTING PRICE WITH NO RESERVE,GOOD LUCK.”

Okay… I can appreciate that a tern’s egg is a beautiful thing, and I can just about understand how someone might, just might, want to possess an accurate replica of a particularly pretty egg, but why does an accurate replica of a Little Tern egg need to have the “feel of a blown egg”, and come complete with “blow holes at both ends”?

Similarly, another seller (magicalbagofgoods) describes his wares as “ANATOMICALLY CORRECT IN SIZE,SHAPE & WEIGHT,COLOUR & LUSTRE TO THAT OF A BLOWN EGG”. So it’s not just the accurately reproduced markings on the eggshell that matter – being like a blown, collected from the wild egg seems to be terribly important too. If that’s not pandering to a very specific market, I don’t know what is.

And you know what, the sellers of these things are doing a roaring trade. Just look at how many widdildenny’s sold in the past few weeks, and to lots of different customers:

widdildenny recent sold items

It’s a whole different world out there… Want to know what makes an egg collector tick? Hear all about it in a BBC interview:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediaselector/check/player/nol/newsid_7320000/newsid_7325100?redirect=7325158.stm&news=1&nbwm=1&bbwm=1&bbram=1&nbram=1&asb=1

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One Response

  1. Really enjoying your blog… RSPB Investigations blog post written by Mark Thomas is here:
    http://blogs.rspb.org.uk/investigations/default.aspx

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