Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The story of these brassy balls

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?


KristiMcMurry said...

That's gorgeous! I wish I knew more about vintage jewelry. It does seem interesting how prices vary depending on what shop you're in.

No Carnations said...

What a piece! Keeping for yourself no? Yeah, I see huge differences. I think it comes down to the passion of the seller. Some sellers are all about the $ and price every item based on market value. Other sellers may REALLY into their glass Fenton ware etc. yet because of the business of gathering, inheriting, auctions they also have a stock of 30s clothing that is damaged and they price super low...such is this business as you say. I think your shop is superbly curated with wonderful deals, fair prices and hard to find pieces as well. Keeps me coming back again and again : )

Wild Tea Party said...

I don't have a problem with the range in pricings (means you can snag a bargain) but I think a lot of people just don't know enough about what they sell, and if they're in the vintage business, they should take the time to research items. In fact, I recently sold a pair of earrings to an antique store by a well known mid-century Australian designer , explaining who the maker of the earrings was and the time period they were made. The seller looked at me and said, 'Right. Thanks'. A few weeks later I see them in the window listed as a completely different era and designer (1930s?!)!

I've also been surprised at some of the crazy differences in pricing I've encountered on items. Case in point - my mother was given a Jorgen Jensen pewter and simulated lapis luzuli necklace. That thing is amazing. I stole it from her YEARS ago because man, it makes me happy. About two years ago, I encountered the matching earrings in an antique store. I snaffled them up for a uh, not inconsiderate amount of money, given that's the asking price for these pieces in Aus. Two weeks later I saw the same earrings at a stall at a vintage fair for... $8. They didn't know the maker, and hadn't bothered to look.

steph.kelley said...

Sounds like your own brassy balls gotcha a great deal! :D xoxoxo

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