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Ebay quilt scammers

CONSUMER ALERTEbay's revised seller ID search function now shields unethical sellers from their past.  Previously, a search of any ID a seller had ever used would point to the seller's current ID.  Now, searching on an old ID returns an "ID not found" message. Before bidding, consumers are strongly advised to check a seller's ID history.

Have you bought one of these "handsewn" "Indiana made" quilts on ebay? 

You're not alone. During just two weeks in May 2008, so did 32 other bidders. 

ebay seller glock940, who also does business under the IDs bubbaandsis and womenquiltsewing is one of ebay's most habitual misrepresenters of knockoff quilts. Between May 11-25 2008 alone, she sold:

  • eleven identical fan quilts in twin, queen and king sizes, which she alternately describes as "Indiana made" or from "Landcaster [sic], Pennsylvania".  They're in "new condition" (not surprising, since they're straight out of their factory packaging). She also says the fans are appliqued; they're pieced.
 

 

  • eight identical "Handmade Pennsylvania Dutch Applique Quilts" in standard sizes, plus shams. Claiming to buy her quilts "from a sewing/quilting group in Shipshewana, Indiana," she says "someone did an awesome job" making this "handsewn, hand crafted" quilt which, again, is misdescribed as applique. 
  • ten "handsewn, hand crafted" plaid patchwork quilts (twin, queen and king sizes) which "someone did a nice job making" - presumably the "sewing/ quilting group in Shipshewana, Indiana" who she claims sold them to her. 

 

 

  • four identical "Handmade Wedding Ring, Pickle Dish" quilts ("WoW"). Again she states that "someone did an awesome job" making this "handsewn, hand crafted" quilt.  (Note that this quilt has the piped edge that has recently been appearing on better-quality knockoffs.) 

 

 

  • glock940 also sells this "very unique" "handmade" "Kentucky" quilt - in king, queen and full sizes (all, not surprisingly, in "new condition").  Although she says the quilt is "handsewn," the applique and embroidery are clearly done by machine.  So far she has had no takers.
 

Anatomy of a scam

Are ebayers who pass off Chinese knockoff quilts as handmade, handsewn, Amish, vintage or antique just misinformed? Or are they knowingly misleading their bidders?  Here's what I and other quilt historians and collectors have found happens when we give such sellers the benefit of the doubt.

Beginning in late April 2008, shortly after she was high bidder on one of glock940's auctions, seller countyline91 (originally pasttime1; after she learned about this webpage in 2008, she changed her ID three times, first to goldenoak161, then back to pasttime1, and finally countyquilts91) listed several Chinese knockoff quilts including one Arch import. All were  misrepresented as handmade originals; one was described as dating to the 1940s.  Although she'd sold both vintage and knockoff quilts in the past, I assumed she simply didn't know the difference, and pointed her to my Arch page. She wrote me back, stating that she had "looked at" it.  She added "Arch" to one quilt's title but did not make any other corrections. 

A week later she listed more Chinese knockoffs, including an Arch quilt she advertised as a "Mennonite Quilt." She "guaranteed" it was "handstitched," adding that "The Amish & Mennonites make the best Quilts in the world."  

I contacted seller that same day, informing her that the quilt was a Chinese-made Arch import.  Seller responded that she "knew where this one came from".   I assumed she had not seen the photos of the identical quilt on my Arch webpage, so I emailed them to her, along with two past auctions for the same quilt by other sellers.  She did not correct her auction description. 

Since ebay forbids anyone other than the seller from contacting a bidder about a current or past auction, bidders remained unaware they were bidding not on a Mennonite original (which appreciates in value) but a second-hand, factory-made quilt (which like all mass produced bedding, loses its value).  The high bidder ended up paying nearly three times what Arch quilt retailed for when new, and at least ten times more than what used Arch quilts sell for on ebay.

Eleven days later the same seller listed another of this same quilt

with exactly the same auction description (it sold for even more than the first one).  (See images from auction at right; click to enlarge.)

The same day, seller glock940 listed an identical quilt, calling it "handmade," "hand crafted" and "hand sewn" and saying that "Someone did an awesome job making this quilt".  

See images from auction below; click to enlarge.)

A week after that, an identical quilt was listed by gjwberg - a seller with the integrity to state that she bought the quilt in the 1990s at Marshall Fields.  (See images from auction below left - click to enlarge.)  Pictured below right is an identical quilt, with its Arch tag showing.

In July 2008 seller countyline91 emailed me to complain about appearing on this page, but never pointed to any inaccuracy on it. She said she bought three identical, brand-new Bethlehem Star quilts from glock940.  She expressed no regret for having misled bidders into overpaying, claiming to see no similarity between her quilts and the others pictured above. 

A few hours later she changed her ebay ID to goldenoak161 and listed another Chinese knockoff (screenshot here) as "vintage" "country" "handstitched" quilt, which she further implies is homemade by stating it has "machine binding". But photos show the quilt has no binding, and is finished with the "knife" edge common to Chinese knockoff quilts.

On July 31, 2008, seller goldenoak161 listed yet another Bethlehem Star quilt identical to the others she had previously sold, once again advertising it as a "Mint>Heirloom>Quality>Mennonite Quilt": "The Amish & Mennonites make the best Quilts in the world. If this is a reproduction of an antique pattern, the work is Excellent...This is the last one I own. I have sold 2 others in the same pattern, each a little different because they are quilted by different people."  (screenshot here)

On January 3, 2009, an individual with the email address countrymom88@yahoo.com attempted to jam my email box by sending me 123 emails with the subject line "REMOVE YOUR LIBELOUS [sic] FROM YOUR WEBSITE!!" but no text and nothing to identify the sender or what s/he found objectionable on any of this site's 40+ pages. For a statement to be libelous, it must be false, so I offered to discuss any falsehood the sender wished to identify.  The sender responded that s/he had "nothing to discuss with" me, and the emails stopped.

Update, April 2009On or about April 6, 2009 ebay apparently suspended glock940's account, tagging that ID as "Not a Registered User" ("NARU").  Although closed auctions typically remain in ebay's database for 90 days, as of this update all 137 of glock940's auctions (representing 6% of all the listings in ebay's Antique Quilts category) had been removed from the ebay database, including those which closed less than 24 hours before.   Ebay rules bars suspended users from using an alternate ID to buy, sell, or communicate with other members. By April 9, bubbaandsis was also NARU, and that ID's current auctions were also abruptly ended and removed from the ebay database.  This suspension lasted about a week. Since these sellers resumed listing around April 15, 2009, all their auctions have been located in the Collectibles category. 


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