Sunday, February 28, 2010
A VASE BY ANY OTHER NAME
About 30 years ago, before I ever knew anything about antiques, and even less than that, I had my first encounter with "Lalique."
I had just moved into my new apartment in Tel Aviv, and some friends brought a lovely bunch of flowers, and I realized that all I had to hold them in was a plastic lemonade pitcher. It was time to buy a vase.
So, off I went vase shopping. There's was a street nearby with many lovely shops that had really pretty things in their windows. Little did I know this was a street known for it's upscale antiques shops. Armed with my $100 (which I thought was more than a fair price to pay for a piece of glass that would serve as a receptacle for flowers), I started scanning the shop windows for something worthy of my money. It didn't take long before I spotted a really gorgeous vase ... I think it had leaves and fruits actually coming out of the glass. Amazing. I said to myself, I'd even spend the whole $100 on this one!
I walked in, and asked the shopkeeper about the pretty brownish colored vase (at the time, I didn't even know the color was called "amber"), he looked at me (a bit superciliously), and asked if I knew that it was a "Lalique." "That's fine," I said ... "how much is it?"
Without blinking an eye, he said: "$7,000."
I'm almost positive he saw the color drain from my face, and I'm sure he heard my gasp. As I fought to gain my composure, I simply nodded (mainly because I was still speechless), managed a small smile, and got the hell out of Dodge.
"Lalique," I kept repeating in my mind. Even sounds expensive. What was I thinking? Walking up the street, my eye caught another gorgeous vase in another shop window. This store was even fancier than the first, and I knew it was way out of my league (hell, I wasn't even in little league at this point), but, to satisfy my curiosity, I had to ask.
I bravely walked into the shop and pointed to the stunning piece of blue glass with the birds all over it, and asked "how much is that vase?" "$10,000," said the owner, who seemed to be looking right through me. But this time, I was prepared: "Not a bad price for Lalique," I said. And with that, did an about face, and proudly marched out of the shop.
I did, eventually, buy a very pretty (not Lalique) vase ... for $100.