The antique dealer is an individual I met some years ago, in the burbs. I sometimes spent my afternoons after school in the vast apartment of Ms. S, long since passed away, both she, gracious apparition, and her dachshund by the name of “X.”
Ms. S, who came to Bucharest around 1900 from the region of Muscel as a young literature student, had been one of Mircea Eliade’s lovers. This love story, which I regret not to remember in more detail, was penned by hand in a dedication by the author on the sleeve of one of the later editions of Maytreyi.
I was fascinated by the personality and stories of the young Ms. S, and earning in turn her trust, I had the freedom of a child to wander throughout her house. I knew its business, I knew its visitors. In this small universe, I was somewhat frightened by a male individual who peered askance at me every time he came and I was the one who opened the door for him. He was the Antique Dealer.
Polite, seeing the weakness of the lady for me, he made no comment, and I, frightened even more by his frozen silence, took refuge in the house. Yet there were meetings that I attended. They negotiated several objects from the house of Ms. S, who was apparently burdened by the costs of such a big house, left deserted after the death of the husband, of the child…
Little by little the books of "the doctor," the furniture of the living room, the Murano lamps and the decorative objects left that house.
Never however did Ms. S carry on discussions outside her home or with more than one individual from the same category (antiquarians). Her sole visitor for acquisitions was the individual about whom I told you above.
I understood subsequently the value of such a relationship. Basically, it was lasting, discrete, punctual. The owner felt safe, she did not risk predation, and he, the Antique Dealer, had the confidence of the entire octogenarian generation of an old Bucharest neighborhood.
The same type of customer loyalty gets created in antique stores as far as the buyers are concerned.
The role of the Antique Dealer here is to sell in turn his goods to a knowledgeable clientele (read “collectors”) whose tastes and interests (if he knows his business) he already knows.
In their turn, the collectors depend upon the antique dealers, since most of the time they are quasi-anonymous and they ask for the discretion of those who rummage for them. Furthermore, they don’t have the time to develop the direct relationship with the owner, and they must trust the eyes and ears of another. And, traveling from one antiquarian to another, you can’t be sure of the object that you are purchasing… and the price is most of the time higher, and you don’t need black holes in your budget.
We will soon have the occasion to make a few appraisals of the antique shops in Bucharest or elsewhere.
Until next time,
T.C. & E.