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12:01pm on Sunday, 27th September, 2015:

Search Me


My usual way of searching eBay for playing cards is to use the "recent searches" facility. I click on the recent search for playing cards and it lists my selection with all the rubbish I don't want filtered out.

Unfortunately, eBay has revamped its launch page and there doesn't appear to be a "recent searches" facility any more — or if there is, they hid it well in the account settings. As a result, I had to save my search as a "following this search", which entails two additional mouse clicks to invoke than did the simple "recent searches" search.

My approach here was to search for antique playing cards, then filter out anything that showed up in the search that was either unrelated or related but not something I want to buy. The former include photographs, postcards, charms; the latter include bezique (bezique decks which have fewer cards in them), congress (I don't collect American playing cards) and edwardian (I may relent on this as I do see occasional Edwardian cards I like).

Here's my search as it ended up:

antique "playing cards" -ad -drawing -fortune -pegs -congress -print -counter -marker -bezique -rules -souvenir -photo -edwardian -chips -token -tokens -pcs -hand -new -vintage -guide -1 -puzzle -photograph -magazine -postcard -retro -swap -pendant -pendants -box -single -charm -charms -trick -book

I wish I could have added more, but the search is limited by number of characters. This means that I couldn't exclude reproductions or advertising material because they took up too many letters. Also, because eBay doesn't have wildcards in its searches, I would have had to have put in both "reproduction" and "reproductions" to filter them out fully. Worse, if you filter out just one, eBay seems to think you have an interest in it so will extend its search somehow — I've actually had more matches from excluding a singular term because it dredged up more matching the plural term in order to try to please me.

Some of the terms in the search are to counter individual sellers who are very annoying. One person, for example, buys up antique decks them splits them into poker hands (five low spades is a flush, yours for £7; decks involving picture cards are more expensive, and full houses are used to mop up otherwise-unused cards). I removed these by filtering out "hand", but this seller changes the wording often (I've seen them listed as "civil war era poker", for example).

Also annoying are people who sell single cards. OK, so they're not annoying to other collectors, but they add way too many listings. I can get rid of these by filtering on the word "swap" or the number "1".

I'll see how it goes, anyway. I'll probably find out now that this is a general problem and there's a proxy web site you can use to log in to and get a search filtered on as many terms as you like.

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Copyright © 2015 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).