It’s not a Tring thing, it’s meet the Ebayers #3

Coincidentally, the very same week the news broke that persons unknown had broken into the Natural history Museum at Tring, and blagged 299 of the most colourful and unusual skins in the extensive collection, I found myself idling through Ebay’s taxidermy listings (as one does), and stumbled across someone selling (amongst other exotica – Banded Pitta anyone?) a bird of paradise skin. Amazing.

BOP sales listing

BOP#1

BOP#2

Offers over £177 please

Still, one needn’t worry about this being in any way related to the theft of BOP skins from Tring, as the seller (zoo_wildlife_2009) helpfully points out that this is in “NEW and excellent” condition. Only a member since early July 2009, zoo_wildlife_2009 has been doing a brisk trade in bird skins, and has shifted sunbirds, frogmouths, kingfishers and barbets. It’s not all birds though, as in a democratic nod to the mammals zoo_wildlife_2009 has also sold a leopard cat, an otter, and various civets.

http://feedback.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewFeedback2&userid=zoo_wildlife_2009&ftab=AllFeedback&myworld=true

Feedback

I really don’t know how legal this trade is, but it seems pretty distasteful.

The following is how they should look…

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

I was a gay cowboy before it got trendy

or

 Meet the Ebayers #1 – an occasional series

Isn’t Ebay wonderful? The chance to pick up a bargain without all the trouble of hawking through a trestle table of tat at a car boot sale while a gimlet-eyed Del Boy works out if he’s going to budge on the £1.50 asking price. It’s not only great for browsing for stuff to buy from the comfort of home, but there’s also much fun to be had looking at what other people are buying. It’s got all the vicarious thrills of seeing the records of a bulimic’s Tesco clubcard.

Meet Genina1230 –  http://myworld.ebay.co.uk/genina1230. I haven’t laughed so much in ages. Genina1230’s last four purchases on Ebay include two lots of pigeon rings, and a gin trap.

 Genina1230 last 4 purchases

A gin trap? Aren’t they illegal? Well, yes and no… certainly illegal to use in the UK, but it’s still legal to posess one as long as you don’t set it, and instead keep it as a collector’s item. That’s certainly the case with the tasty little number Genina1230 is currently bidding on – a rather fetching and desirable pole trap. Check this baby out:

Here, accipter accipter accipter…

Snap

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Vintage-Pole-Trap_W0QQitemZ290216404617QQihZ019QQcategoryZ383QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

Hot damn! What a beauty! The seller is careful to point out to prospective buyers that this is a “Collectors item only“, but in case you were worried your collection would be sullied by a substandard item, adds helpfully the information that it’s “in good working condition“.

Phew. What a relief. I’d hate to think Genina1230 might follow the succesful bid for pigeon rings by buying a broken pole trap. Imagine the disappointment.

Just as I was starting to be concerned about what sort of person would buy pigeon rings, gin traps, and maybe a nice pole trap (not to mention various shooting paraphernalia such as beating flags, a fox lure CD etc), I noticed a more reassuring purchase made earlier this year. What pigeon-fancying, trap-collecting home would be complete without a fridge magnet like this?

Blazing saddle

And to think I was worried…