Thursday, January 29, 2004

Finding Niño

After my entry of January 1, 2004, I decided to look online for any source of Alex Niño's art book Satan's Tears: The Art of Alex Niño. After a day or so of scouring the net I discovered some really interesting things. Satan's Tears had a highly limited print run of only 1000 copies, all were oversized at 10.5" by 13.5", 300 pages hardbound, had an original retail price of $60 (in 1977 during it's release), and all signed and numbered by Alex himself. It's also very rare and highly sought after by art collectors. Near perfect copies have been sold for up to $1000. A rare books website had 3 copies of it for sale with varying degrees of quality with prices ranging from $350 to $500.

Of course, those prices are insanely expensive for me. Even at the least expensive at $350, which in Philippine currency is 19,250 pesos already. Nineteen thousand pesos for ONE BOOK!! But I really wanted a copy of it and if I was really crazy and desperate I would have given in at that price. Take note that at $350, it's a damaged copy. But I'm not really a collector that's persnickety about the condition about any particular book. I just want to have a copy so I can look at it. I'm not buying it as an investment to profit from later. If I buy it, it's mine till I die. But $350 is still beyond my means so I decided to look elsewhere.

I eventually found a copy being auctioned off at Ebay. And the current bid was going for far FAR less than $350, at a price I was comfortable paying. The damage was particularly bad at the back portion of the dust jacket, with water damage affecting the last few pages, but from the pictures, it all looked OK to me. But I didn't have an Ebay account because payment for winning bids almost always require a credit card which I didn't have. But as luck would have it, this seller, who hails from Belgium, was accepting Money Order and

So I registered, and I bid. And I was almost immediately outbid. My excitement got the better of me. I wasn't exactly a newbie when it comes to online auctions, having had much experience bidding and winning items at Philippine based, now I decided to bide my time and bid at the last minute, and I expected other bidders to wait as well. On the last day of the auction I entered a high maximum bid, the last bid I was absolutely willing to pay for, nothing more than that. If I was outbid, then I would just have to let go.

Later in the day someone bid, but he failed to outbid me and at the end of the day I had won it. I couldn't believe it. I was actually going to own a copy of Satan's Tears: The Art of Alex Niño, one of my personal holy grails. After seeing all those prices online, I thought I'd NEVER own a copy. I sent off my payment and waited patiently for it to arrive.

After a couple of weeks I started to get jittery. What if it got lost in the mail? I wish I could have afforded to have it sent via Fedex, but the weight and size of the book would have made it extremely expensive to send. In hindsight, I would have paid for it if only to ensure that I would get the book safely.

Yesterday I went to the Post Office to pay for the annual fees of my PO Box. And as I stood there in line, I noticed this huge envelope leaning on a wall on a shelf that HAD MY NAME ON IT. The clerk recognized me (I was there a lot) and said that the envelope was for me. (duh?) They were just about to send off the postal notice for me to pick it up. So my visiting yesterday was quite fortuitous. I grabbed the package, went home, carefully opened it and....

I was speechless after that.