I’m Gonna Open My Mail, and You’re Gonna Watch, With a Guest Appearance From My Cat

I hope you all enjoyed that, and I also hope you enjoyed the special guest appearance from Mick the Cat, who randomly showed up at the top of the video and then buggered off when he realized that the video wasn’t about him. Mick the Cat is a diva.

This was the first time I’ve participated in an auction from a real auction house in years. When I was a kid I actually spent a lot of time around auctions. My grandfather was an auctioneer – one of the fast talking ones, and he mostly did stuff like livestock and farm equipment. There’s a few pieces of furniture at my parents house that came from some of my grandfather’s auctions, including a rocking chair that won me about two months worth of popularity in the fourth grade in a weird, roundabout sort of way, but that’s a story for another day. I also dated a guy in high school who also came from an auction family and used to bid on “mystery boxes” that went for really low prices and could contain just about anything. Once, the mystery box contained nothing but back issues of Playboy, which he promptly started selling down at the bus shelter for a huge profit, essentially becoming the Larry Flynt of our high school, which basically made me the Courtney Love of our high school. (I was not the Courtney Love of our high school. The closest I came was once wearing a vintage slip as a dress with a cardigan and Doc Martens to school).

I was also fortunate to live near an auction house that specialized in a old Hollywood memorabilia – things like publicity stills, autographs, and posters. I never had enough money to meet the opening bid, but I liked to go to the previews and see the auction items on display. Especially the autographs. I remember looking at an autographed photo of Cary Grant that eventually went for thousands and thousands of dollars and being able to see the indentation his pen had made as he signed his name. I also learned a lot, too…like how many pinholes in an original movie poster is too many pin holes, what an acceptable amount of foxing is, and how to tell if an autograph was signed by a movie star or the movie star’s secretary.

Sometimes, the auction house would hold memorabilia shows with small items for sale (kind of like Buy It Now on eBay) – things I could actually afford.

Jean

This is one of the first things I got at a memorabilia show, when I was about 14. I think I paid $12 for this. It’s a supplement published and sold by a movie magazine right after Jean Harlow’s death at the age of 26 in 1937. Kind of like how there are all of those special issues of Life about Michael Jackson or Elizabeth Taylor at grocery store checkout lines today.

When eBay came along, it really kind of revolutionized the whole idea of collecting – at least for me, because it made memorabilia auctions a lot more accessible. In fact, the first time I ever participated in eBay was to buy some first run theatrical posters and press kits for The Blair Witch Project. I also got involved in, and eventually lost, a fierce bidding war over a wristwatch that had been given to Jean Harlow by her mother, the infamous Mama Jean. Even though I lost, eBay made it possible for me to even have a shot at the watch – at an auction house, I wouldn’t have had a hope of even meeting the minimum bid.

So yes, I’m not going to deny that eBay has given me access to memorabilia that I don’t think I ever would have had otherwise, but, like buying concert tickets, you do lose a little bit of the thrill of the auction. (Although, seriously – last year I scored a pair of Louboutins on eBay for $50. They went so cheap because I’m an unusual size and the heels needed to be recovered, which my shoe guy was happy to do for me. That was a pretty thrilling eBay moment).

Even though I participated in the Joey Ramone auction online, it was still a pretty cool auction house experience. For starters, knowing that the auction house is working directly with the estate is great for peace of mind.

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Participating in an online auction through an auction house also means that, just like an in person auction, there will be a preview period, where you can take a look at all the stuff before the auction actually begins. Ostensibly, this helps you plan your bidding strategy, but for me it’s mostly really fun, even if I don’t end up bidding.

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So all in all, I had a great experience with RR Auction, who were the organizers for the Joey Ramone auction. I understand that the estate uses this particular auction company because it was Joey’s favorite place to buy autographs and memorabilia when he was alive, which also makes me smile – Joey was a collector, too!

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Patrick and I had a great time examining my new t-shirt in detail last night. The question of the hour, however, was: “Do you think this cat hair came off of Joey’s cat or one of our’s?”

The cat hair, surprisingly, did not photograph all that well, so enjoy this close up of the back of the shirt instead.

The cat hair, surprisingly, did not photograph all that well, so enjoy this close up of the back of the shirt instead.

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