Real Photo Postcard: Young Woman In Period Dress
I'm not quite sure what to make of this postcard, but I like it. It is a real photo postcard with a divided back, so it dates after, what, 1907? However, typewritten on the back, (or perhaps stamped, very lightly, in what looks like type from a typewriter) written on one side of the divide, is "1888 Dress. White silk grosgrain, lace trimmed." On the other side, where the address would normally be written, is this notation: "Photo by John A, Davis, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, N.Y."
Whether these cards sold at the Pratt Institute, which is a museum or something, I don't know.
Anyway, here is the story of how I acquired this card, and what followed, and how crazy life can be.
I'm out at Metrolina, which is the big antique show held twice a year outside of Charlotte. I haven't been in quite a while, since the show fragmented and part of the dealers came up here to Cabarrus County
Arena. Now there are two shows, and they're both lousy. But I saw a guy at Brimfield in the spring, and this fellow has some photos I want, and he didn't have them at Brimfield but he said he would bring them to Charlotte. And we agreed on a price. So I hoped to go out to Metrolina and find this guy and buy these photos, and if you want to see them, you can come and visit me. Only I don't have them. Not yet, maybe never. But that's another story. A sad story, with I hope, a happy ending.
So I was walking around Metrolina with low expectations. I am a firm believer in low expectations. If you don't imagine (like the freaking New York Yankees) that you are going to win the World Series every year, then when you don't win it, you aren't quite as upset as if you always expected to win it. And if you do win it, you are more excited than the idiotic New York Yankees fan who thinks it's his God-given right to win the World Series every year. I hate the Yankees, and I hope they never win another World Series. But anyway . . .
There's this big concrete pad on the Metrolina complex. There are eight or ten buildings, each with many dealers, and then there are lots of tents, some big tents with multiple dealers, and some smaller tents with only one dealer, and a few big tents with only one dealer, like the Turkish rug guy, though all the Turkish rugs probably come from Taiwan or somewhere. Metrolina is a show with a lot of merchandise that comes back again and again, with some dealers who offer new art and imported junk and whatnot, and some sort of flea market people. It's a real mishmash. There are some women walking around who are worth looking at, but probably not the same quality you'd see on Long Island, or Malibu, or somewhere. But anyway anyway . . .
So on this concrete pad, which has a big roof over it, so it's like an open shed, there are maybe twenty or thirty dealers. Anyway, there's this old guy (probably like my age, or a few years older) at the back of the shed, and this old guy has some photos, and I start looking at them. The first thing I see is this tinted tintype, and it's tinted all over. Very elaborate. It's not so cool that I want to buy it, but it was an unusual amount of tinting. And I thought the price, $25 dollars, was pretty reasonable. But I wasn't going to buy it. I picked out a few items to buy. This card, a tintype of a young girl that I thought was decent but nothing to turn flip flops about, and a couple of other items. And this dealer guy, who was kind of a North Carolina type fellow, a guy who might drive a beat-up old station wagon filled to the brim with junk, a guy who might make trips to the dump to get stuff, a guy who might have a weird pet of some sort, a little bit of beard stubble, a quirky old geezer, this fellow says to me, "Look at these glass lantern slides. You ever see anything like that?" And one of the glass lantern slides was of these two young black boys, and it was pretty neat, but I think the dealer wanted $150 for it and I didn't want it that bad. And the other glass lantern slide was---well, I can't tell you. You're just going to have to hold it in for a while.
Anyway anyway, I spread my finds out on top of this case for this dealer fellow, and I said, "What do you want for all that?" And I'm thinking like maybe $15. And the dealer looks at all this stuff and he says "$35."
And I said "What!?" Sort of like I thought the dealer was crazy, which I did.
And the dealer says, "Well, I'm basically giving you all these photos [and he points at three of the photos] for $35 and I'm throwing this one [and he points at the tintype of the girl] in for free."
And I said "Hunh?" like the dealer was crazy. And he turns the tintype of the girl, which I imagine is like a four-dollar tintype, six dollars max, over, and it has a price of $39 on the back. So I told this fellow that that was way out of line. And then I told him that the tinted tintype, which was priced at like $25, was worth double that.
And this dealer fellow says to me, "You know, I don't think you want any of these photos. I don't think any of these photos are for you." And he starts gathering up the photos and putting them back where they were. And now I was more than a little disappointed, because although I could live without the other photos, I had already decided that this postcard of this woman was kind of special. She's the kind of woman I'd like to spend an afternoon with, you know, sipping coffee and eating sachertorte. And although a postcard like this should be priced at a dollar or two, and this dealer had five dollars penciled on the back, I was ready to pay that.
So although this dealer was being what I considered verbally abusive to me, I got in my wallet, got five dollars, and said, "Well, just let me buy this one," and I snatched her up off the table and shoved the money at him before he could think too much about it. And he took the money, still grumbling. It's hard for a dealer to turn down money when it's staring at him like that.
Okay, this is just the beginning of the story.
I bought some other stuff from some other dealers, and all in all, I had a pretty good day, even though the fight (it was sort of unpleasant, this altercation was this dealer) was nagging at me. And although I never found the guy who has the photos that I really went out there to buy. But that night, when I got home and spread out my finds, and then later, in bed, I started thinking about that one glass lanterrn slide that dealer had, and the more I thought about it, the more I wanted it, only I had made the dealer mad at me, and that was like his favorite item, the item he was most excited about, so now that I had insulted him and he had decided not to sell to me, he wouldn't sell me that one item, even if I were ready to pay full price. Which, of course, I was.
To Be Continued