I just spotted an item on ebay which shows why it can be useful to monitor this online auction site for evidence of your ancestors and related families. An advert has just appeared which reads:
92 Original c1900-1950 photographs Kirby Family ( 1,Clayton Cottages, Arkley, Nr. Barnet, Herts ) and Milton Family ( Cowards Cottages, Thundridge Hill, Ware, Herts). There is also a Sydenham and Hoare family surname connection. Some are identified but not many. There is one WW1 soldier photo ( ' Milton ' hand written on back) and some WW2 army and RAF photos. They are mostly postcard size and in very good condition. All of the photos are shown in my pictures. I also have listed separately some old photographs of the Arkley War Memorial.
If you are interested you have until the 17th January to bid.
What often happens if that someone dies and there is a house clearance - and there are no interested close relatives to save key items for the family archives - such items may simply end up in a skip. SOme may end up in the local auction rooms and eventually the more interesting items will be sold off on ebay - singly or as a collection as in this case. I recently purchased some Hertfordshire post cards which had mirror writing on the back and on checking back discovered that the seller had about 100 mirror writing cards for sale - which all came from a single album documenting the courtship of a couple at the beginning of the 20th century.
On one occasion I purchased a large box of personal letters (about 100) and other papers from the early 19th century relating to a branch of my wife's Phipson family. It included a notebook of the same date which recorded several generations of an ancestral branch I had previously been unable to crack.
Of course, searching this way is a long shot, and works best if you have unusual surnames or place names. However don't expect immediate miracles. In 1939 my father took over a shop in Watchet, Somerset, and had some postcards published with his name, Reynolds, as the publisher. I have been running an automated ebay search for an example of one of these cards for about five years without success - but I am hoping that eventually one will turn up.