Striking Gold - The Hunt for Treasures
inMarch 5, 2008 - 9:08am
Estate sales are, for many of us, the end of the rainbow with a potential pot of gold lurking nearby. You can almost see its glitter hidden amidst the usual pedestrian selection of pottery and glassware. Somewhere, very near, there is something rare and special waiting for you to notice it because to be in the antiques and collectibles business is to live in perpetual hope. We must believe that something wonderful lies just around
the corner and ours will be the only eyes to recognize its worth. One day, it happens. There, in a corner ignored by all the other treasure seekers, is a statue. Instantly you see that it is old. You are not even sure exactly what it is, but you recognize antiquity. It has an aura that speaks to you.
“What,” you say casually to the person who is selling stuff, “are you asking for that thing over there.” You point at it diffidently, without emphasis, as if to say it holds no more than a passing interest for you. Careful, you warn yourself. You don't want the other sharks to smell blood.
“ Oh, that? My dad had it forever. Been there since I was born. He really loved it.”
“You know anything about it?” you query, still keeping it light, trying to avoid licking your lips in anticipation.
“ Only that it's old,” she says. “It's got to be older than me and I'm almost 70. It's one of those things I remember not being allowed to touch when I was growing up.”
“Hmmm. Well, I'm not sure what it is either,” and you chuckle, as if enjoying a private joke, “but it's interesting. Sure is BIG. Sale's almost over. What's your bottom line on it?” In your mind, a little prayer bubbles up that she will come back with a number within your budget.
“Gee, I don't know. You're the first person to ask about it. Let me think.” Yes, you silently shout in glee, all the while looking around the room at other things. Perhaps those years spent cutting classes and playing poker in the student lounge were not altogether wasted.
“Does thirty dollars sound like too much?”
Oh joy, oh rapture unforeseen. “Let me take a look and see what I've got in the way of cash. Hmmm. Can we make it twenty-five?”
“Okay,” says The Seller.
You tote your statue home. You were right. It is a score. You cannot find anything exactly equivalent, so you find something similar, price it in that ballpark, take some pictures, and list it. At dinner that evening, the entire family, all three generations, are gawking at your acquisition.
“ That's amazing,” your daughter-in-law says. Your son nods.
“ There's something special about it," he concurs.
“ It creeps me out,” announces the granddaughter. “It keeps looking at me.”
Well, maybe it is a little creepy, but in a nice way. You realize that you are getting downright fond of it. It looks like it belongs there in the dining room.
“ I think we should just keep it,” announces your son. There is general concurrence.
You look at it again, “You know, I think you are right. There is something about it. Let's keep it. I'll take down the listing in the morning."
But your treasure has an agenda of its own and before morning dawns it has sold. There was no offer, no haggling. Someone just bought and instantly paid for it, at which point you realize that you probably did not charge early enough.
So, you struck gold. You made a huge profit on it ... and yet, you are somehow sorry that you sold it, sorry that this thing of beauty passed so quickly through your life. Because you know you will never find another like it.
You struck gold and now you have just its glitter. You are glad for the profit, pleased you had the eyes to see it, but wish, somehow you had more time to savor it.
Then, the love of the hunt comes rushing back. Time to begin anew. There IS treasure to be found and you are sure to find it. You need just look.
By Marilyn Armstrong