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Black Friday In Italy

Run, that is, before the break of dawn. We left the hotels by 4AM to get to the event by 5AM, when all the trucks arrived at the pavilions at one of the many Italian antique fairs, ready to unload treasures untold into the fair. All these dealers from around the world are at the same place at the same time, and we are about to make the proverbial “it” happen. We are freezing our tushes off in the pitch black morning, mists gathering between our breaths like etheric rivers. Bob and I look at each other, and nod.

The pavilions are huge, just shy of a European football field. At each exit and entrance, there are collectors from across the globe trying to get in, leaning into the gates, trying to stay calm, and knowing full well what is coming. The clock is ticking to the top of the five o'clock hour, and it’s getting tense. Where the American version storms chain link gates, we were about to storm the castle. It was Black Friday: The Antique Collector's Edition.

You hear a creak, a pully, and the gates roll up. You can see the crews starting to pull everything out. Here is your chance to snatch what you want when you can, so you don't buy it bought and sold four hours later inside.

The castle is open.

Bob goes in one direction, I go in another. I spot one of our key vendors. As he rolls up the back of the truck, I leap in. I sense something wonderful, and get a peek at a curious object that is against one side. I see tortoise shell. I see mirror. It's an 18th century piece (maybe earlier), and it is a gorgeous thing. I spare not a second, and grab it on one end. As I tug it gently to free it, I feel a counter-pull. There is a woman who has crept up, and her grip on this piece is tight. I look up. Fear wraps me. It's Amy Perlin. Oh, this is going to be difficult. I love Amy Perlin. She's a legend, a wonderful woman. I'm almost flattered we move to the same piece- it's a confirmation in and of itself. But, this mirror. I can't seem to let go.

Here we were, two collectors on a mission, gritting our teeth as we hold tight to a tortoise shell mirror. A mirror worth many a sacrifice. We are neck and neck for this piece. Ten seconds slowed into what felt like ten minutes. And I adored Amy Perlin. She was a remarkable designer, revered and rightly so. I admired her. But the mirror…

I felt my hands move from grips to open palms. She won. We nodded, exhaled, and lept (we moved far faster than parting, that's for sure) our separate ways. After all, there was a mission needed tending.

Later on, I saw it in her inventory. It both broke my heart (it was a fabulous mirror), and also made me laugh. I think now, what a time. May those in-person shows come again soon. That passion, that excitement, that in-person action. In the meantime, we keep the tether online, and look forward to seeing each other again.

Though that particular mirror didn't make our collection, here's an equally stunning one that did.

About the mirror:

The lexicon of the frog has long endured in our endeavors. It has deep meaning for us (or projection, you choose). On a trip to Genoa, we discovered this Rococo mirror, and we are so glad we did. We didn't know why it was in that sale as the show was specifically 20th century, but it is was. It popped out like crazy amidst Danish chairs and German consoles, and immediately loved it. I called it the Frog Mirror for it's wonderful legs.

It is a jewel, and we've seen nothing like it before or since. It's clearly Venetian, full of fantasy, and would have probably been a woman’s dressing mirror, its legs resting on a table or console. We cleaned it up, revealing its remarkable condition. Everything is original. And the glass! It's actually etched with geometric shapes and reserves that can only be seen in person. And made with mercury, it has that constellation drift.

So, to the stars we go!


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