Friday, December 10, 2010

Oh, Darling…wherever did you find it?

We are often asked that very question…a client sees one of our treasures and wants to know how or where we found it.

We sell unique and unusual vintage items and, thus, the answer is not always what the client would suppose.

Case in point:

We’re exhibiting at a lah-dee-dah antiques show in a chi-chi area and the question comes up about a gorgeous French wall cabinet we are offering…hand-carved walnut from the 1880s with original glass and provinçal fabric lining. It’s a beauty.

The facts:

We were in the Brittany region of northwestern France, searching for a brocante market that I had seen advertised on a light post…a typical scenario as small country markets are generally promoted in church bulletins, on light posts, and other such low-key manners. At least I was pretty sure the notice was about a brocante market. The unprofessional, hand-written sign said truc et puce. The word “puce” in French means “flea”…but has come to mean “flea market” in antiquing circles, and “truc” is slang for “truck” or “thingamajig” or “barter”.

I wasn’t really sure exactly what was in store, but it wasn’t too far of a journey…so off we went!
It wasn’t long before we came across a road barrier…men working…along with signs indicating that we needed to take a detour. What the signs failed to mention was that the detour was going to take us kilometer after kilometer out into the countryside…so far that we became hopelessly lost and well beyond the area shown on our trusty map…
…this is in the pre-GPS days, and even if we had it at the time, I suspect GPS would not have been very useful in this particular situation.

Finally after a couple of hours, we arrived at the designated site of the truc et puce. At first, I’m dismayed to see nothing but trucks. Oh no, we drove all this way only to find one of those impromptu used vehicle lots…a possibility that had lurked in the deep recesses of my brain as I knew that, tax-wise, selling a used vehicle in France involved some creativity. How frustrating to have driven all this way and there’s no antiques market!

Hours wasted…we don’t have a truck with which we want to barter and, worse yet, I have to pee.

But wait…one of us is quite tall and he spots a distant field way out between a row of trees. It’s a hay field that had been freshly mowed and with joy, we realize that spread out in the field are blankets strewn with unique treasures that the locals have put out to sell.

To get to those blankets, we have to flog our way through veil after veil of webs spun by the newly-displaced spiders that had just hours before been residing in the field and the only rest room “facility” is an old, abandoned car fender…in plain view of the market participants and showing obvious signs of having been well-frequented.

So…the question was “Wherever did you find it?”

The answer:  Brittany

Stay tuned for more behind the scenes adventures of The Meadows Collection…or check out the results at

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