Monday, May 24, 2010

Picking a Tiffany & Company Bracelet at Happy's

Here's the bracelet in a Tiffany & Co. ad.^

Here's my 'pick' with the little 1920s pin of the lady and her dog.^

UPDATE: Just had the Tiffany bracelet appraised at Frank L. Moose Jewelers in Roanoke and the jeweler verified that "it's a real Tiffany; it's sterling and it's almost new.")

I had another of those pickers' moments yesterday on a flea market run out to Happy's. This time I came away with a Tiffany & Co. 925 Sterling Silver Mesh Bangle Bracelet Somer, valued at $250 used (according to I nailed it for $2. (No, I don't know what a "somer" is, but I can spot a quality bracelet from a mile.)

I also picked a 1920s-era appearing pin of a flapper walking her dog--not sure if it's gold--for $1. (If you're not familiar with the term "picker," you might want to watch "American Picker" on the History Channel. It's about a couple of guys who travel the countryside rummaging through junk and finding valuable stuff. Tonight at 9 p.m.)

Both of these finds came from a guy who appears at the flea market occasionally with thousands of pieces of small jewelry, some of it organized, most not. When he's talking to a customer, you can hold up a piece from a distance and say, "How 'bout $2 for this," and he'll usually agree. That's what happened with the Tiffany. He was engaged in haggling with an Asian woman a few minutes later and I held up the pin and said, "A buck?" and he said, "Two." Later, after the lady had left, he came over and said, "you can have the pin for $1. When I'm haggling, I can't look weak or I get killed. That woman spent $150."

Of course, both of these could be fakes or copies, but the Tiffany looks real and Geoff Jennings Frank L. Moose Jeweler will tell me the hard truth. Right now, though, there's the thrill of victory (Geoff could add the agony of defeat).

A year or so ago, I landed a Vol. 1, first edition copy of Ulysses S. Grant's memoir (the one Mark Twain published in order to give the dying Grant's family something of an income; ex-presidents didn't get a pension then and Grant was broke) at an antique mall between Boones Mill and Rocky Mount for $7. I'm not sure the owner of the stall at the mall took the time to open the book and see that it was signed. My guess is that he saw an old, beat-up book and hurriedly stuck a price on it in pencil. The signature could be a fake, in which case I have a worthless book and a priceless story.

And maybe that's all it's about anyway.


  1. Dan,
    When I was 19 or 20 I collected books for a few years. At one point I had to have a fire sale to raise some funds and liquidated them...most of them were modern first editions of authors I admired and some other odds and ends, including a signed first edition of John Updike's memoir.
    Anyway, I still poke around for books, mostly at thrift stores. A few months ago, I stopped at a bookshelf at a local bookstore when I saw a copy of Carl Sandburg's Complete Poems. Flipping through it I noticed that it was signed by the author. Then I noticed that there were two more Sandburg books on the shelf...the first was a novel also signed to the same friend. Finally, a nonfiction work on Lincoln...also signed. The books are all signed with dates, though...I can't find anything about the fellow he signed the books is signed 'in fellowship'. I would love to look more into this...thought you would find it interesting given your recent finds. Thanks...and I appreciated much of what you had to say regarding the peace movement.

  2. Just a quick follow-up...I meant to say that the store was a thrift store..and that I bought the books for one dollar each.