Thursday, October 15, 2009

Is There Access to eBay in the Afterlife?

"Coincidences are spiritual puns." G. K. Chesterton

Here is an interesting story. For the past month I've been combing the internet and the library for information on Elizabeth Oakes-Smith to prepare for a presentation I'm giving in the spring. I have been printing out everything I can find by this author on the web, and the research is fun. Some of her works are entirely out of print, or in old magazines that are very hard to find.

Last week I had a thought. Out of all the out of print books and articles written by Elizabeth Oakes-Smith, I'd really like to find the little volume she published in 1845 called Complete Poetical Writings. That would make me really happy. This particular book has been out of print for over 100 years. I'll probably never find one, and if I do I bet I can't afford it. If I see it in an antique shop for less than $20, it's a sign, I decided. (I'm one of those nuts people who always looks for signs from heaven.)

An amazing response to my thought came later in the week, no joke, when a Google search for poems by E.Oakes-Smith turned up an eBay address, and there was the Complete Poetical Writings of E. Oakes-Smith that I so wanted to find. I was shocked. What made this find even more special was that the book was a 1st edition signed by the author. This is what I read:

"Poems by Mrs. E (Elizabeth) Oakes Smith, published New York, J. S. Redfield, First Complete Edition, 1845, 204 pages, measures 3 1/8" x 4 1/2", hardback, gilt edge, inscribed "Yours Respectfully, E. Oakes Smith", belonged to a Steph. Wm. Smith, complete."

I've only bought something on eBay one other time. It was a blue pig potty seat for Big Brother. (He was two years old.) It was such a rip off. His little rumpus didn't fit on it and it ended up being another dog dish for Hell Hound. I vowed I'd never shop eBay again, until now...

What are the chances of someone coming across this old book in a box and putting it up on eBay? I got it for a steal at $15.

I was very excited to win this auction. I watched the book for two days, thinking some book dealer would outbid me last minute. If I won the auction for a reasonable price, I was convinced the book was meant for me.

Since I started researching the life of the Smiths,
  • I've been inspired to stay committed to writing a novel (this is a project I start over and over, but never finish),
  • I've had an opportunity to do a presentation for the local historical society,
  • I've stumbled upon an opportunity to help create a memorial for E. Oakes-Smith in the new local YMCA,
  • I've had an article published,
  • I was contacted by a relative of the deceased,
  • and I won a 164 year-old, signed book by the author for $15 in a landslide eBay auction.
All of these positive, interesting developments came from one innocent good deed: adopting a cemetery plot and planting a garden there.

Let me be clear, except for jewels, the best object to give Loren for a present is a book, especially a rare, out of print, first edition. Is it coincidence, or did a deceased person arrange for me to receive a "fab" thank you gift via eBay? You decide. I'm going to go look at my new ancient book!

Go to Timothy H. Scherman's website for a complete listing of works by E. Oakes-Smith.


Putz said...

you are just so thing of course just lately is research, especially the period 1805 to 1888

Loren Christie said...

Hi Mr. Putz,
That's the time period I'm researching too.

The General said...

Hey it's great to see someone else discover this extraordinary and wrongly forgotten writer. Should I add you to the EOS Society newsletter list? If so, write me at

Tim Scherman
Northeastern Illinois University
EOS Page webmaster

Loren Christie said...

Hi Tim! Sure!

Brenda Jean said...

I am so addicted to books-- old books, new books, any books. I have to keep myself away from ebay and then if I'm really good I'll let myself go and browse for awhile. I'm so pathetic. By the way, that was a VERY cool deal!

Loren Christie said...

Brenda, You like musty old books too? How cool.

Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller said...

I'm addicted to signs too. They are definitely with you on this project. As for books, the older the better. Put it in the freezer if it has mildew spots.

Dear Internet Traveler,

Welcome to my writer's blog, started about six years ago for fun. Over time, the writing I have posted has ranged from personal reflection, to Long Island history research, to tall tales for my own amusement, to feature articles for local newspapers. As you can see from topics listed here, I travel in many mental directions in regard to interests. Click on the tabs and labels to explore my strange mind which senses that you may be having a criss-cross day. If so, perhaps this blog will distract you. However, please note that if you tell me my blog is beautiful just to get me to advertise rhinoplasty surgery and cheap drugs from Canada in your comment, I will ask the gods to give you a tail that cannot be concealed.


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