Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Happiness is a chunky, vintage brass necklace. Like this one. I bought it over the phone after seeing a blurry image of it in a photograph. I had asked the shopkeeper to take photos of her cases and send them to me so that I could shop with her from a distance (she is in another state). I expected her to say, "Are you crazy woman? I don't have time for that!" But to my delight, she was game! The only catch? She didn't have a camera, so she would have to buy a disposable, print the photos and send them to me via snail mail. That was fine by me.
When the photos arrived, I was crestfallen. Most of them were very blurry or there was light reflected off the glass. But I did my best and found a few things that I thought might be good for the shop. Then I picked up the phone and called her. We spent almost an hour going through the photos one by one, me trying to describe a pin or a bracelet and her saying, "Ok, I think I know which one you are talking about," then putting the phone down (land line) to go and check the price for me. It was not very efficient, but it was kind of fun.
Anyway, the photograph of the necklace display was really, really terrible. I passed it up the first time but then, right before we hung up I spotted something that looked interesting. Here is how our conversation went:
Me: Ok, just one more thing. Now I am looking at photo #5.
Shopkeeper: Photo #5 . . . yes, the one with the necklaces?
Me: Yes, um there is a necklace hanging about four in from the right. Next to a red beady thing. It looks brassy with filigree balls. It looks old, is it?
Shopkeeper: I think so.
Me: Ok, well how much is it?
Shopkeeper: Let me go check (pause, pause, pause). That one is . . . $18.
Me. *Long pause. Armpits sweating.* Um, yes please add that to my pile.
Which leads me to this observation: I will never cease to be amazed at how unpredictable pricing is in the vintage/antique world. I've seen junk priced at $300 and pieces like this one - 1930s perfection - going for the price of two pints of fancy ice cream. I've even seen the same piece sold by two different vendors at the same antiques fair (Alameda, in California) priced very differently. Sometimes it just feels like a free for all out there. Other vintage sellers/shoppers, what do you think?