For years I have used a service of eBay that allows me to specify search terms for items being sold. I can specify the search terms once, and then eBay sends me an email notice whenever any new item is added to the online auction service with words in the item’s listing that match my search terms. I started doing that perhaps ten years ago or longer, and occasionally it has paid off.
I have often found items for sale that I would not have known about otherwise without manually checking every few days. I have purchased a number of “good finds” over the years, including old family history books, some CD-ROM disks containing genealogy information and county histories, and more. This week, it paid off big time!
My great-grandfather, Orman Eastman, spent his early years in West Corinth, Maine. I do not know a lot about the man’s life although I do have a photograph of him that was taken when he was a senior citizen. A couple of weeks ago, eBay sent a message to me that made my eyes open wide: an old photograph had just been offered for sale on eBay, and the description said:
Victorian House Photo, Orman Eastman Home, West Corinth, Maine
When I went to eBay.com and looked at the listing, I found it was not only a photograph of the house but also included four people in front of the house: two men, a woman, and a boy who appears to be five to maybe ten years old. Is one of those men my great-grandfather? Is the woman in the photo my great-grandmother? (I have never seen a picture of her before.) Who is the young boy in the photo?
In addition, there is a horse in the photo. Normally I would not have paid attention to this except that I remember my father describing visits to this man’s home when my father was a young boy. Dad mentioned that my great-grandfather’s hobby was breeding race horses and then racing them at county fairs. Was this one of his race horses?
Needless to say, I bid on the picture. A few days later, once the auction had ended, I received notice that I was the high bidder. I went online and paid for the photograph, and it arrived a few days later in the mail. I immediately scanned the photograph at 1,200 dpi (dots-per-inch), the highest resolution available on my desktop scanner. Then I sent the image to a friend of mine who is an expert at digital photo enhancement. (She is also the editor of this newsletter.) She used photo editing program to darken the image and to improve the contrast, and sent the results back to me. Not only did the photo look better, but I can now also see a little girl in the photograph who wasn’t visible before!
Here is the result:
NOTE: The above image still had to be compressed and shrunk in order to fit in this newsletter’s web page. The version stored on my own hard drive is larger and higher resolution than the above version. However, the zoomed-in version is still “grainy.”
Hey! Wait a minute! There is a fifth person in the picture! Can you see the little girl in the extreme right side of the above photo? The man seated in the chair has his left arm around the little girl. I can’t see her face or other features, but she is definitely there. I had not seen her in the unedited version of the photograph.
The “north end” of a south-facing young colt also is now clearly visible.
Thanks to earlier research in the County Recorder of Deeds’ office, I know when my great-grandfather sold the farm in Corinth and bought another farm in East Bangor, Maine. That tells me the latest possible date that the photograph was taken. Based on that, I now believe I can identify all the people in the photo: my great-grandfather is seated to the right, the man on the left who is holding the reins of the horse probably is my grandfather (who was a very slender man), the woman seated is his wife (my grandmother), and the children shown are the two oldest of of their family: my uncle and my aunt, apparently about 3 and 6 years old at that time. The photograph obviously was taken around 1905 or 1906 when my grandparents and their only children (at that time) visited his father. (My grandparents later went on to have five more children, including my father.)
This is now a cherished photograph in my collection. Thank you eBay!
The moral of this story: you never know what you will find on eBay!
If you would like to have eBay monitor new listings for you and to notify you of anything being added that may be of interest to you, read the step-by-step instructions at: http://www.ebay.com/gds/Never-Ever-Miss-Out-Again-On-The-Item-You-Really-Want-/10000000000767264/g.html
Another option is the AutomatedSearches web site at https://automatedsearches.com. AutomatedSearches is not run by eBay. Instead, it is a third-party web site that searches eBay for you. The AutomatedSearches web site claims that it offers “Up to 1,440 times more effective than eBay’s once-a-day email alerts.” I am not sure how the site’s owners determined their site is 1,440 times better although I do realize there are 1,440 minutes in a 24-hour period. In any case, I’ll take their word for it.
The AutomatedSearches web site allows the user to “fine tune” the searches, such as to only look for items within a specified number of miles of the user’s location or to search only for new items or only for used items and more. When items are found, the AutomatedSearches will send your choice of either an email message or a text message to your cell phone.
The AutomatedSearches web site is available free of charge although the company does sell “upgrades” that add extra functionality. Still, I found the free service to be rather powerful. I’d suggest using the free version for a while and then decide later if any of the paid upgrades appeal to you. I haven’t yet seen any need to pay for anything for my simple usage of eBay. Your needs might be different.
Again, that is at: https://automatedsearches.com.
What can YOU find on eBay?