The Hounds Have Me at Bay--on eBay
The Hounds at (e)Bay
Chances are we've all seen a painting or two in our lifetime of a large company of riders in bright red blazers, black caps with brims, and tight white pants; their magnificent prancing horses, and a pack of energetic dogs, freshly paroled from their kennels and keenly anticipating or even immersed in the thrill of the hunt. More often than not, in the lower right corner of the artwork, you'll see the harried and bewildered fox desperately attempting to elude the inevitable.
It was with some mild surprise, then, that I came across the above print in one of several 1937 National Geographic magazines I was busily scanning one morning in preparation for my day's work.
What I Do
I have a full time job selling on--arguably--the world's largest global marketplace, eBay. While the largest share of my sales revenue comes from the marketing of fly tying fish hooks, my secondary niche of selling vintage ephemera --ads, articles, and prints--is gradually gaining ground and may soon overtake the former category.
About three weeks ago, I'd purchased eleven NG issues from another eBay seller for a fair price of $17.50. At a cost of only $1.59 per issue, I definitely considered this transaction to be a win-win scenario. The seller had generated a sale and was thus able to lighten his clutter and inventory, and I was confident that I could easily make my investment back by selling just two dirty old pages from that one lot of periodicals. The potential for profit was immense, in my estimation, because of the scores of ads, articles, and prints those eleven issues contained.
At this point, I want to share with you one very good reason why I like old National Geographic magazines. The National Geographic Society has a rich history of being a first-rate, classy, and profitable organization. They spared no expense in producing high quality magazines. The paper used was strong and durable.
Decades later, then, online entrepreneurs like me who specialize in resurrecting old paper and reselling it find it very easy to resurrect pages from the vintage and antiquarian issues of NG .
Anyway, upon seeing the above print, I immediately thought, "How familiar!" I intuitively knew that I'd never seen this photograph in my life. What was familiar, then, was that I'd seen masterful works of art that had captured varying vignettes of the common theme--the fox hunt!
Here, then, was a classic example of life imitating art.
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Prior to reading this article, had you ever heard of the artist, Edward Herbert Miner?
Edward Herbert Miner
I leafed through the rest of the article and discovered to my great delight eight beautiful color prints of hounds that were taken from paintings of life exquisitely crafted by the brilliant National Geographic staff artist, Edward Herbert Miner.
Not long ago, I was blessed with the privilege of discovering a set of E. H. Miner prints depicting cattle of the world. This set of bovine prints were gleaned from a 1925 issue of NG . Thankfully, I sold a few of those prints and still have a few up on eBay.
Discovering this octet of canine prints reinforced my appreciation for Mr. Miner's eye for detail, not just the superficial lines, shapes, and colors, but a deeper grasp of each animal's mood and energy.
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- Steering With the Skid--on eBay
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Procedure, Research, and Education
The careful removal of extremely tough staples and the remnant glue along the spine of the groups of pages that form each issue of the magazine takes a bit of effort. The whole point is to preserve each page so that one can present a salesworthy commodity for the eBay buyers. As I deliberately dissected the magazine, then, I mentally mapped out a rough draft template for my listings of the hound prints. Simultaneously, I read the captions under each print and key passages of the article itself.
I thus learned several new things. For example, I had no idea there were so many different kinds of hounds--not just bloodhounds, but deerhounds, otterhounds, wolfhounds, foxhounds, Afghan hounds, greyhounds, and Basset hounds, as well as beagles, whippets, rampur, and saluki.
In addition, an interesting tidbit I picked up from this experience was that bloodhounds are actually quite docile. This was a huge surprise to me. As a little boy, I'd actually felt sympathy for the Frankenstein monster running from the enraged crowd wielding torches, clubs, farm tools, and guns, the din of hounds accompanying the mob's angry shouting. Mentally interpolating the eventual outcome, I shuddered to think how the dogs would literally tear the monster into shreds.
This misconception naturally carried over into the viewing of other movies or plays throughout my lifetime--the blood curdling, spine-tingling, hair-raising baying of the hounds as they ravenously hunted for their quarry in Uncle Tom's Cabin; Cool Hand Luke; Shawshank Redemption; and Brother, Where Art Thou? to name a few.
In reality, rather than attacking and biting their quarry mercilessly, bloodhounds are more likely to present a playful posture and demeanor, licking the hands and face of the fugitive. Their propensity is to follow scents and to track down, not violently render, the source of those scents.
Try convincing the harried fox or escaped prisoner, however, that the bloodhound isn't a vicious carnivore salivating for that large bite of flesh.
Another surprising morsel for me was that greyhounds and whippets--for short distances, anyway--can actually outrun a galloping horse. That is simply amazing!
Reminiscing about Saturday Morning Cartoons
The business of working with vintage items is naturally conducive to a bit of mind-wandering...waxing nostalgic, as they say...and mind-tripping is exactly what I did when I saw this photographic print (at the right) from the same article. It prompted me to reminisce about cartoons I'd seen as a kid on Saturday mornings featuring a group of exaggeratedly thin wolfhounds breaking out in the stereotypical Russian Cossack dance involving folded arms, rigid upper torsos, marathon squatting, and shuffling feet accompanied by the occasional rhythm-driven shouts of Hey!
Why I Enjoy Selling Vintage Magazine Prints on eBay
I'm reminded once again by this foray into selling vintage magazine prints why I passionately enjoy what I'm doing. Approaching the portal to my sexagenerian years, I'm daily dispelling the notion that you can't teach an old dog new tricks.
Truly, I'm not only learning new lessons as I develop my eBay business...I actually get to share them with a fabulous community of fellow adventurers--literary Odysseans, all of them--right here on HubPages.