Coping…in the Twilight Zone

This has been a strange time to live in the San Francisco Bay Area. In the last four weeks there continues to be horrendous wildfires surrounding us, heat waves over 100 degrees (many of us with no air conditioning) and now days so smoky that the sky is apocalyptic gray and orange the whole day. On top of that Covid-19 still roams freely (that’s how I think of it) and life and businesses continue to be fettered. But normally this part of the world is a wonderful place to live…honestly! And normally it’s a great place to hunt for vintage items, but this year has been tough.

September 9, 2020 at the Golden Gate Bridge. Photo by Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE

I envy those of you who can skip off to a flea market or rummage sale. I miss those days! The few in-person estate sales that have popped up near me haven’t been tempting…featuring a lot of furniture, generic household stuff and mass-produced “collectibles.” Not my thing. And even my honey-hole neighborhood thrift store has had really slim pickings. I think most of the better stuff is heading online and there’s been a lot more competition/shoppers since it reopened. Still, mustn’t grumble…I do find a few good bits now and then.

This week I bought this unique artisan-made pottery vase. It’s a slab construction with a mod grid/block pattern. Isn’t it fabulous? And perfect for autumn.

Haven’t figured out the signature yet.

And the other day I spotted an antique English print on the floor propped against the end of a shelf. I love this kind of thing. I thought the image on this was quite appealing (and beautifully framed) and bonus, it was documented on the back. Perfect for a traditional decor home.

Titled “Liverpool: The Mersey on the 16th Inst.–H.M.S. Majestic Firing a Royal Salute.”
Not sure yet what I’ll list this for.

There was a tall Lladro girl figurine on the “new merch” cart for about $20, but it had a large visible repair and I was happy to say no to it, but by the time I left the store someone else had grabbed it. Repaired Lladro is a hard sell I think, but would love to hear if you’ve sold such pieces.

I am continuing to source online. I bought this small sterling silver powder compact with a sweet bright-cut engraved flower from an eBay seller. It was priced at about what I could sell it for on Etsy, but I had an eBay gift certificate to use up which brought it down to a reasonable price for me to resell.

Just under 1.5″ diameter! It has the tiniest puff inside.


Now I do have a “problem buy” that arrived yesterday from another eBay seller. I bought what I thought was a sterling silver Art Nouveau vesta case/match safe. I paid up for it ($80) because detailed vesta cases with images of woman can be quite valuable/desirable.

Well, it arrived and was lovely and sterling silver, but I realized that while the match striker on the bottom was practically worn away, there was no wear at all to the design on either side, which after decades of apparent use there should be some. That seemed strange. So I started doing some research and my heart sank. I didn’t have an Art-Nouveau-era piece (1890-1910) but a reproduction Art-Nouveau-style piece, post 1970. Here’s what I found on the Real or Repro website

Here’s the marking on mine. An exact match to the modern repro.

Apparently the makers of these reproduction pieces intentionally wore away the match striker area to fool people. Dastardly! I also discovered that the 925 mark was rarely used before 1970. How did I not know that??

This seller didn’t accept returns, but I asked stating that the reason why and he’s allowing it. Phew! (As a repro this is only worth $20-$30.) Thankfully I figured it out before selling it on.

A Fun Sale

Some of you may remember this pre-columbian style dog vessel from last year. I could never verify that it was truly old, so I listed it as a replica. A really cool replica, but not hundreds of years old. Well a gal contacted me and wondered if she could buy it on a layaway plan in three payments. You have to do an odd workaround in Etsy and Paypal to do that, but I set it up and she’s finally paid the third installment and I can mail this interesting piece to its new owner!

Paid $3 at the flea market, sold for $90.

I’ll miss him in my curio cubby!

Moving Forward

I’m going to keep plugging away at my business. I really have enough unlisted inventory to keep me busy for months, so my diminished sourcing opportunities won’t affect me much, other than missing the thrill of the hunt! And things are still selling at a fairly steady pace which is good, so not all is doom and gloom!

Hope all is well in your world,



  1. I read you faithfully. That picture of the GGbridge – amazing. Wish ya’ll had some of our rain. Now, I can’t understand why pottery artists have to sign their names like doctor’s writing!!! I have the worst time trying to identify them and sometimes I just give up and say “signed by artist”. You’d think they would want people to know who made a lovely piece!! Stay well and safe.♥️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Debbie! I wish we could get some of your rain too. At least today the sun has managed to break through the haze/smoke a bit.

      The Mark’s Project website is super helpful with pottery identification, but so far no luck with this current name. It may be a “signed by artist” piece!!!

      All the best, Karen


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