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  Shot of the Week Item number: 200006894999

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Despite my best efforts to recruit others as SOTW commentators, none to date have risen to the occasion and adorned the Poobah's hat.  I'm glad to be able to report that with this edition, Dick Bales has graciously agreed to boot the glassmaster off his soap box (some would say bully pulpit is a more appropriate term, but as smokin' would say, they're f**king whiners [thanks for adding to the SOTW vocabulary, smokin!]).  The glassmaster doesn't get to rest on his laurels however, because Dick invites a counter point discussion.   And now, over to Dick:

When I was growing up, the now-defunct Chicago Daily News featured a comic strip called Liíl Abner. Its cast of characters included Joe Btfsplk, a man who brought bad luck to everyone around him and who walked around with a perpetual black cloud over his head.

Well, I think that I have been living with Joe this week. I placed what I thought were serious bids on two glasses that I wanted, and each time the auction ended, I was not in the winnerís circle.

The first was this Old Fox River Whiskey glass:

Ironically, I had just written about Fox River Whiskey in my current Common Stuff article; surely, I thought, I deserved to own this glass! It had been languishing on eBay for days, sitting at $20.00.


Alas, my snipe of $38.00 and change didnít even register on eBay. Bluroc took it for $46.55.

But that was okay, I thought. That just gave me extra money to spend on an even more desirable item--this Despres & Co. glass. Chicago is my kind of town and this is clearly a Chicago glass.

This advertising shot glass stands 2 3/8" tall and the advertising reads, "Depres & Co., Purity, Chicago"  A dove is pictured, and colors are blue and white.  The condition is good, and there are no chips or cracks.

I set my snipe at $88.88 and started dusting off the display case. The Despres bird was flying home to yours truly.

At least this time my bid managed to register on eBay. But the end result was as before. Well, actually, it was worse. Junkmoney bid a staggering $166.00, almost twice the amount of my bid, and even that figure failed to knock the glass into his victory lane. Instead, xxxtruk took the checkered flag, albeit with a wallet that was $168.50 lighter.

As I sat in front of my computer that evening, nursing my bruised ego, I remembered that Robin had mentioned this type of bidding in his last SOTW column. Specifically, this is what he wrote: "I would suggest that running up the prices on glass by Ďirrationally exuberantí bids is fine as a way of growing a collection, but itís a dangerously flawed investment strategy." So now I had experienced firsthand what Robin was writing about. What was my reaction? How did I feel about it? The next day I wrote Robin and asked him if he and I could do a "point--counterpoint" in SOTW. I said that we could write about this kind of bidding; I noted that perhaps we might have two different views, which might make the exchange of ideas kind of interesting. He readily agreed, and here we are.

So how do I feel about losing, not just once, but twice? Well, I suppose I am upset that I missed out on both auctions. But am I angry at the way some collectors, in their quest for glass, throw what appears to be unlimited amounts of cash into the insatiable eBay maw, leaving the rest of us to bid on chipped Hayners and Sunnybrooks? Nope, not a bit. It seems to me that there are two different types of bidding philosophies. Some people (myself included) bid according to what they feel the glass is worth, plus perhaps an additional cushion for good measure. Indeed, I told Robin the morning after the auction ended that I might have bid more for the Despres glass, if only I had a better idea of its true value and rarity. And for shot glass collectors, "value" means different things to different people. Rarity simply relates to the number of glasses out there. But in many respects, rarity has no bearing on value. A "text only" glass may be rare, but what is its value to other collectors? To me, value is dollar value; what something is worth.

But to other people, value equals desirability. These collectors donít care what a glass is worth; they bid according to what they want, and the amount they bid has no correlation to any perceived notion of the glassís worth. As Rene Descartes, the French philosopher, said (well, he might have said this, had he been a glass collector): I want, therefore I bid. And there is nothing wrong with that philosophy. That is what free enterprise is all about. Robin said as much in his previous SOTW: "Itís not about the money." Rather than cry in my beer, I congratulate the winners on their good fortune. (And the sellersí good fortune, too!)

Is the Despres glass worth more than $165.00? Well, five people bid on this glass, and two of the five felt it was. But I wonder: What would have been the result if eBay were one of those auction sites where sniping is verboten, where there is no flurry of last-minute (heck, last-second) bidding? What if there had been a fifteen minute period after the $168.50 bid where anybody could have placed another bid? Would any one of the other three out of five whose bids were less than three digits have bid again? Would "desirability" and "worth" come closer together? That is something to think about.

Buyers become sellers. Eventually the Fox River and Depress glasses will go on the auction block. And when they do, I hope that I will be around to bid on them. Nope, I am not angry about losing those two auctions. I may eventually own these glasses--it will just take a little more time, thatís all. And until then, thanks to pre-pro, I will have some great pictures of these and other glasses of "value" to look at!

Oh, I almost forgot. What is my pick for SOTW? It is no contest; for me it is the Despres glass. I tried to do some research on the Internet. There is actually some information in the pre-pro database. I also found a reference in Google that indicates that Despres is indeed a pre-prohibition company.

As you can see, this glass is colored blue and white. This is not the only colored pre-pro glass. In fact, this is not even the only multi-color pre-pro glass. (Check out Kevin Wade's collection on this site. It is inspiring.) But I think that we would all agree that there are not a whole lot of multi-colored pre-pro glasses out there. No doubt about it; this glass is cool. (And it is Chicago, too!)

Gee, suddenly that price of $168.50 doesn't seem high at all!

Dick Bales



Note that you can browse many previous 
choices for SOTW in the Archives.

Last updated: Tuesday September 26, 2006
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