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Vintage Flag Seller Pulled From eBay

Seller attempts to prohibit sales to buyers in the Middle East, France and California, unless they can prove military connection.
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WATERBURY, Conn. -- A Waterbury antiques dealer has been barred from selling vintage American flags on eBay because of restrictions he placed on who can buy the flags.

Mark Albino, owner of C&M Antiques and Collectibles in Waterbury, prohibits sales to buyers in the Middle East, France and Californians, unless they are in the military in that state.

Albino, of Plymouth, served eight years in the Navy, including five years of active duty.

According to published reports, Albino's rational for the restrictions was based on his fear that some buyers may be looking for flats to desecrate or burn.

"Too many good people have died defending that flag," he is reported as saying.

Albino said has been selling vintage American flags on eBay for years. He said he is a designated eBay power seller, which means his auctions have resulted in sales of at least $76,000 over the past 30 days.

He has somewhere between 250 and 800 auctions under way on the online commercial site on any given day, but will not longer be able to peddle vintage flags.

"Those are wonderful items, and I'm sure there are a lot of people out there that would be interested in bidding on them," said Usher Lieberman, an eBay spokesman, in published reports. "But we have pulled those auctions off the site. All our sellers must abide by the rules and policies we have established and we can't make any exceptions."

According to Albino, every flag he has ever sold on eBay has contained a disclaimer outlining the restrictions:

"Please note that this flag is not for sale to anyone residing in any country in the Middle East, France, and the state of California (unless you can show proof of serving in the U.S. military) or to any person in any country not allied to the USA. I reserve the right not to sell this flag to anyone I deem may be disrespectful to it. God bless America and its true allies."

Albino told media outlets that he has been running about 15 vintage flag auctions per year on eBay and has sold somewhere between 75 and 100 flags on the site over the past five years. He acquires the flags primarily through estate auctions.

The flags vary in size and value and generally date from the 1870s to the 1940s. Winning bids range from $50 to $500, Albino said.

As an eBay auctioneer, Albino can choose not to ship his items internationally, or he can choose to ship them anywhere in the world, Lieberman, the eBay spokesman said. What he can't do is choose to ship internationally and then arbitrarily rule out certain individual countries.

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