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What would you do? Valuables for sale

Everyone loves a bargain, and we all like to get a good deal, but can the deal ever be too good?

Some friends asked me recently about my own ethics when it comes to flea markets and junk shops. I don't do too much buying at bona fide antique shops, because I usually want to take the pieces I buy apart to reuse rather than to collect them. Flea markets and junk shops are a better source for me of non-valuable costume jewelry and other pieces of detritus that I can feel ok about "destroying".

My friends, who know that I also do a little bit of reselling of more valuable pieces, wanted to know what I would do if I found, for example, a Vendome parure worth maybe a couple hundred dollars if sold to a reputable shop or even on eBay, and the seller had it in a baggie on the table for about 50 cents. Well, first, I said, things like that just don't happen to me! Then I started thinking about it more, and realized that what I hoped I would do and what I would do could possibly be two different things.

What do you think? What would you do?

While you're thinking about it, here are all of the previous posts from this series. Even though they've been up for awhile, you are always welcome to add your comments!

What would you do?  An introduction
Skivving someone else's work
Using inexpensive materials
The source of our materials
Teaching vs stealing
Valuables for sale

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Shirley said…
If you've ever watched Pawn Star, you will see examples of this situation. Several times a customer has come into the shop, wanting a couple of hundred for a piece, only to have Rick tell them honestly that it is worth a couple of thousand. The funny part is how immediately greedy the customer gets in wanting the highest price possible! If I knew it was something valuable, I would have to tell the person. If they then decide to sell it to me at a fair price, I would jump on it!
Cyndi L said…
That's what I HOPE I would do, Shirley :-)
This happens to me a lot. Generally the people running the sale don't believe me.

I bought an 18th century diamond ring from a guy who refused to take more than fifty cents for it. He insisted it was junk because the stone was pointed on the top and it was filthy. I tried to explain, but he was too busy selling the "good" stuff at his sale to listen. He said, "I know what my mom had and she didn't have any good jewelry. Fifty cents or nothing." Well, all right, then.

I also bought a Marimekko pearl & 18K gold brooch at a church sale where the nice church ladies insisted it was costume jewelry and wouldn't hear of taking more than $5 for it (it was marked $1).

Sometimes people will say thanks and put the item away for re-evaluation, and those people are always very grateful.
Anonymous said…
You know, I would have to notify the seller. I would feel bad otherwise.
flyingbeader said…
Years ago before antiquing was popular, it was my "mission" to find deals in antique shops and especially flea markets. Me, I have no problem picking up deals & nope, I don't tell the seller what the piece is really worth. Now days, I've actually have people write down what the "eBay" price is...what fun is that. And yes, I say it is FUN to find those deals.
Cyndi L said…
I feel a little differently about "real" antique shops vs flea markets and other venues, but I'm not sure that I should. It seems that it's totally the responsibility of the seller, no matter what the venue, to figure out what they have and price it accordingly. But I feel that way doubly for antique shop owners. This is your job! Not quite sure what that says about me that I have a confused somewhat double standard...