Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Largest Vintage Bead Dealer West of the Mississippi

About 10 years ago a man in cowboy boots and a black Stetson walked into French General and proclaimed that he was the "largest vintage bead dealer west of the Mississippi." Molly and I kind of looked at each other and thought - ok - we'll bite. A 70-ish year old renegade glass dealer - American Indian on his mother's side, who has been trading beads since the good old days, has become one of my favorite vendors over the years. Since then, I have spoken to him almost daily - sometimes twice a day - to talk about his latest bead dig or samples he is about to send to me. We always remind each other of our one great dig together and the one that got away. The dig we did began with a train ride to a Brooklyn apartment where we dug for over 5 hours - when we were finished we had found some of the most amazing vintage glass we had ever seen. Glass pearls, foiled leaves and embedded wire flowers - all elements that had been used in a line of glass jewelry during the 1940's and 50's. I felt like I was digging through my own collection - so many of the pieces I found that day were similar to what I had been using for years. A couple of months later he called and wanted to go back to Brooklyn and pack up the remainder of the collection - but I was moving to California that day and couldn't meet him. We still reminisce about this missed dig - I don't know if either of us will ever recover from what we think we left behind.


Christina said...

i love that story. sounds like you could write a whole book on your digging and the people you've met along the way.. hmmm.

molly said...

we'll be talking about him for the rest of our live long days. thank goodness for old bead dealers, eh?

Anonymous said...

I wish I could find a "dig" of my own! so interesting!