Found on Ebay

If you surf the net, you’ve probably looked around on Ebay. What did you search for? Collectibles or antiques? used DVD’s or video games? maybe a book or used electronic items? Maybe you’ve even tried your hand at selling something on Ebay too. But have you ever looked for used clothing? How about circus freak memorabilia? dentures? Or canned rattlesnake meat from the 1950’s? Marc Hartzman discovered that all of these items and more like them, (much more) were available for sale on Ebay if you looked in the right places. In fact, he found so many weird items, he wrote a book about it! Called (appropriately enough) “Found on Ebay”, it chronicles not only the items themselves, but the sometimes odd stories behind them, as well as the conversations he had with the sellers prior to purchase.

marc

Marc Hartzman lived in Jersey City at the time he wrote this book and was gracious enough to show me some of his Ebay collection, and discuss the various pieces. So how did Marc turn a search for circus freak memorabilia into a book complete with press interviews? “It began really innocently. I was doing a search for freak show stuff, and a lot of other things can up in the search. I couldn’t believe some of the things I was finding, so I began entering keywords like Poop, used dentures, enema, garden gnome, penis, etc. Also, descriptions were good: old dirty, old filthy, old rusty, gross, nasty, etc. “I found this hysterically funny, and I just knew there was a book in this somewhere. Soon I was bidding on some of the items I had found. I even emailed some of the owners, and I asked them about their items, but I couldn’t come out say that I was writing a book, so I had to be coy about it.” One of my favorite examples is his conversation with the owner of the deer poop paper weight. “Where was the poop found?” he wrote the seller. “I’m a collector of animal droppings from around the world.” The response? “I have Massachusetts and Maine whitetail deer poop. I also have wild turkey (MA) and porcupine poop (ME).” (The mark of a true seller: marketing your other products…) He said that as things wore on he started asking stupider & stupider questions and amazingly they were answered as if they were serious questions. Marc asked the seller of a hornets nest (hornets not included typed in caps) if he could use it as a piñata, and the seller said, “sure it’s all sorts of pretty colors.”

tumbler

penis

searshat

goats

frog

By December 2001, Marc had assembled a list of items for the book and he pitched it to several publishers. Universe immediately responded, and things were rolling. For legal reasons he had to get signed waivers from the individuals, most of whom were quite cooperative. One notable exception was a gentleman who was selling a used sock. “You’re a pervert and a weirdo, absolutely not.” This from a man selling a used sock on the internet! “I found that most of the people who wouldn’t consent were the ones selling clothing. They apparently were worried that somehow they’d be linked to the item I guess.” Like selling a smock with a bullet hole in it from a store robbery would be consider lo-brow or something…. Surprisingly he didn’t have to get Ebay’s permission to use the word Ebay, although he was unable to use their logo.

Among the items he showed me were: an antique oatmeal box, an antique enema machine, a walking staff made from a Bull penis that was dried, stretched and had a metal shaft poured down the middle, a bag of shredded money, a bottle carved out of the top of a fence post, a lucky bingo cowboy, a shark fetus, a bowling trophy, used dentures, and a can of Libby’s Corn Beef, a deer poop paperweight, a patriotic sears hat, and a bull testicle purse pouch…

groupshot

bulltesticle

cheetos

fish

Click here to buy this book at Amazon.com Click here to buy this book at B&N.com

Click the links above to buy the book online

NJ Turnpike tumbler penis Garden old Sears hat

Necklace made from goat toenails Frog turned into zipper coin pouch Frog turned into zipper coin pouch

Marc Hartzman lived in Jersey City at the time he wrote this book and was gracious enough to show me some of his Ebay collection, and discuss the various pieces. So how did Marc turn a search for circus freak memorabilia into a book complete with press interviews? “It began really innocently. I was doing a search for freak show stuff, and a lot of other things can up in the search. I couldn’t believe some of the things I was finding, so I began entering keywords like Poop, used dentures, enema, garden gnome, penis, etc. Also, descriptions were good: old dirty, old filthy, old rusty, gross, nasty, etc. “I found this hysterically funny, and I just knew there was a book in this somewhere. Soon I was bidding on some of the items I had found. I even emailed some of the owners, and I asked them about their items, but I couldn’t come out say that I was writing a book, so I had to be coy about it.” One of my favorite examples is his conversation with the owner of the deer poop paper weight. “Where was the poop found?” he wrote the seller. “I’m a collector of animal droppings from around the world.” The response? “I have Massachusetts and Maine whitetail deer poop. I also have wild turkey (MA) and porcupine poop (ME).” (The mark of a true seller: marketing your other products…) He said that as things wore on he started asking stupider & stupider questions and amazingly they were answered as if they were serious questions. Marc asked the seller of a hornets nest (hornets not included typed in caps) if he could use it as a piñata, and the seller said, “sure it’s all sorts of pretty colors.”

A collection of Oddities

By December 2001, Marc had assembled a list of items for the book and he pitched it to several publishers. Universe immediately responded, and things were rolling. For legal reasons he had to get signed waivers from the individuals, most of whom were quite cooperative. One notable exception was a gentleman who was selling a used sock. “You’re a pervert and a weirdo, absolutely not.” This from a man selling a used sock on the internet! “I found that most of the people who wouldn’t consent were the ones selling clothing. They apparently were worried that somehow they’d be linked to the item I guess.” Like selling a smock with a bullet hole in it from a store robbery would be consider lo-brow or something…. Surprisingly he didn’t have to get Ebay’s permission to use the word Ebay, although he was unable to use their logo.

Among the items he showed me were: an antique oatmeal box, an antique enema machine, a walking staff made from a Bull penis that was dried, stretched and had a metal shaft poured down the middle, a bag of shredded money, a bottle carved out of the top of a fence post, a lucky bingo cowboy, a shark fetus, a bowling trophy, used dentures, and a can of Libby’s Corn Beef, a deer poop paperweight, a patriotic sears hat, and a bull testicle purse pouch…

click here for larger picture click here for larger picture

click here for larger picture click here for larger picture

Some sellers gave him items for free, or in some cases loaned them to him for the purposes of the book. One of the best stories involved the JFK Lawn gnome. The Lawn gnome is one of a 4 piece set of World leaders, the others being Khrushchev, Adenauer, and De Gauile. Marc really wanted the item because a) it was unique, b) it could valuable years from now but most importantly c) it struck him as hysterically funny. (That appears to have been the prerequisite for most of the items it seems) He got into a bidding war, and the price climbed to over $100 but it didn’t meet the reserve. Marc emailed the owner and asked if he could buy it, and the owner said the reserve was $150. Gritting his teeth, Marc agreed to the price. Why? Why does anybody pay more then they wanted to on Ebay? Because they have to have that item! Unfortunately Marc revealed what he was doing, and the owner then refused to sell it to him. “It’s a museum quality piece,” the owner stated. Luckily for Marc, the owner agreed to loan him the piece, with Marc sending him a $150 deposit in case it wasn’t returned.

Other people loaned him items but with less then successful results. One man was selling his big toe nail clipping. What’s the big deal about a toe nail clipping? Says Marc, “It was a BIG toe nail clipping.” Ebay shut the auction down because of it’s prohibition of sales of body parts. The seller agreed to let Marc borrow the sale item, and shipped it to Marc in a standard white envelope. Unfortunately, the rigors of the US Postal System crushed the nail en route, and all Marc received was bunch of toe nail fragments. Amazed at the poor shipping manner, Marc relayed the news to the owner and asked if he wanted it back. Said the owner, “Wow I thought it would’ve arrived in mint condition.”

Some sales on Ebay are closed by them because it violates the rules. Like trying to selling your soul. Definitely against the rules. Why? Well you have to sell something tangible, & you can’t sell body parts. If a soul doesn’t exist, then it violates the first rule, and if it does, it violates the second. But that doesn’t stop people from trying. So some entrepreneurs have found a way around that rule: tie it to something else like a whiffleball.

A look around Marc’s house reveals quite an eclectic collection of items. Aside from the items bought on Ebay, the apartment was full of freak show and circus memorabilia, comics from the 1940’s, and dozens & dozens of small figures from Ozzy Osbourne to Where the Wild Things are to comic book characters. So what does his fiancée think about all this? According to Marc she “would prefer I get rid of some of this stuff. But she wouldn’t mind if we picked up a two headed calf.” Considering the owner wanted 20,000 as the opening bid, it seems doubtful that will happen. Of course if Marc ever found a two headed calf, he could sell it on Ebay and pay for his wedding. Something tells me that if that ever happened, he would keep it for his collection.

Marc publishes his own publication called Backwash zine. It is a collection of humor stories, music reviews, and interviews with unusual people ranging from Vanilla Ice to the original Blockhead. The zine has skewed recently towards circus show freaks in recent issues, as evidenced by his interviews with Beetlejuice the dwarf wrestler and Johnny Fox, owner of the Freaktorium. Does he make money selling his zine? “I used to have a sweet deal with a publisher, but he lost his job so now I have to pay full price. Sometimes I lose money, sometimes I don’t overall I guess I break even.” What if the book doesn’t sell enough copies to cover expenses? “I don’t know! Let’s hope that doesn’t happen!”

With positive press, an energetic attitude and armed with a banjo-playing dead frog, a 2 headed baby chick, an antique enema machine and a whole lotta high hopes, how can he not succeed?

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9 responses to this post.

  1. It’s remarkable designed for me to have a web page, which is helpful for my experience. thanks admin

    Reply

  2. Posted by Mimi on March 15, 2012 at 8:30 PM

    So, say you are looking for a few more pairs of dentures to buy……I have a bunch (my dental office has made many pairs for patients who do not pay for them or come back for treatment). I have partials too. Let me know. 🙂

    Reply

  3. […] Adventure, under the name Dr Zombini (this is how I discovered him, thanks to Marc Hartzman of Found on Ebay fame) The show features standard side show fare such as eating a light bulb, walking on broken […]

    Reply

  4. […] is the original: Found on Ebay « Lostinjersey’s Weblog Share and […]

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  5. […] the rest here: Found on Ebay « Lostinjersey’s Weblog Share and […]

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  6. Posted by John on March 20, 2009 at 9:34 AM

    I need one of those Frog turned into Zipper coin pouch! I will pay anything!!!!

    Reply

  7. Posted by anonymous on March 20, 2009 at 9:33 AM

    You are so mean!!! How could you do that to a poorfroggie! What would peta say? I will have our President banging down your door as soon as she is back from her pot party.

    Meanie!

    Reply

  8. […] Originally posted here:  Found on Ebay « Lostinjersey’s Weblog […]

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  9. Posted by Lisa on March 20, 2009 at 7:12 AM

    ok, this is gonna sound weird, but after DAYS of searching, your site is the only one that even came close to talking about this subject that I have been looking for. I have an old feature circus freaks (so to speak, I hate calling them that because they were people too,but)10×10 banner tarp like sign that in my opinion was probably used to advertise @ the circus, “Lobsterboy live, alive” with a picture of him (kinda animated). Anyway, this is the best way I could describe it. But, I was trying to search ebay for stuff like this and couldn’t find ANYTHING like it. I am sure that their is a “circus freak” collector out there somewhere that might be interested is buying this from me, but, I don’t really want to just sell it to Anyone, because it seems kinda special and although its pretty old, its in good condition and I would like to see someone get it that would take really good care of it and maybe put it in some kind of display or something to show it. Anyway, I’m probably rambling again, so if you have ANY idea, please, let me know via email. But please put something in the subject that pertains to this subject so I don’t accidentally delete it. Thanks a lot.

    Reply

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