Some commentators say the penny is on the way out. Last year the treasury went out to consultation on the future of the one and two penny piece, citing evidence that 1 in 12 of them end up thrown in the bin!
But whether you put them in the charity bucket, save them up to use at supermarket self-service checkouts or automatic ticket machines, or have fun trying your luck at the seaside amusement arcade - my personal view is that the nation's coppers have plenty of life left in them yet.
And while perceived wisdom tells us that you can't buy anything for 1p in 2019 Britain, that isn't quite true. Before Christmas I challenged myself to a game of Ebay Bargain Hunt; by the end of the week I had won 322 auctions with my £3 budget. It's such a cheap way of filling up your crafts box.
What I Bought
I was really pleasantly surprised by the amount and variety of things I was able to win for a penny. There were the kind of thing I was expecting to win - stickers, paperclips, buttons and beads - but I also won seed packets, a passport cover, yards of ribbon, and a variety of useful plastic gizmos. My favourite was a citrus fruit cutter; it actually works really well, and currently sells for 56p on Amazon.
Shipping was surprisingly quick too. That passport cover, for instance, arrived quicker from Hong Kong than items I had bought from the UK on the same day. The only problem with my purchases was that most of the seeds came without labels and, not being green thumbed, I've no idea which of them is which. Still, it'll add to the mystery of the thing when Marianna and I try to actually grow something in her garden of pots this year...
My biggest success story was nail transfers. These are great for making doll house miniatures with, so I bid on a lot expecting to only win a few auctions. In the end I won well over two hundred. And, as they were listed in dollars, when I paid for them en masse I spent less than a penny on each set. Bargain!
How I Did It
Ebay's filter system makes it incredibly easy to find potential bargains. Go into advanced search and then fill out your price parameters:
Next you need to set your 'from preferred locations' to 'worldwide'. You might come across penny auctions in the UK, but it is very rare for those to offer free delivery.
Finally, and most importantly, check the 'free postage' option. Even with it ticked, it doesn't hurt to double check when bidding that auctions are offering free postal delivery rather than 'collection in person'. Nobody wants to be travelling across the country to pay for a paperclip!
To make life even easier you then want to set the number of bids range from 0 all the way up to, ah, 0.
That done, you just need to decide what to search for. I went for 'crafts' while writing this post which returned 2,874 results. Then you start bidding on auctions which have no bids. It's best to be aware at the start that you will lose the vast majority of those auctions - so be prepared for a deluge of emails and notifications from eBay on the subject.
But, with luck on your side, you'll soon have a collection of items on their way. :)