These posts on my impoverished past have led to a good deal of reflection. And, even though I can't remember anything that happened five minutes ago, I am remembering some details of my past.
First question: who IS a picker? I suppose it could be anyone who sells to someone else. The picking ends when an item reaches a final customer. Mr FS and I bought some antique quilts when we lived in Indiana, when quilts were all the rage. We met a lovely woman, Lois, who was a picker for other dealers. She was a small town woman with very little money, but an incredible feel for objects and a true sense of beauty.
She really liked us, so she would often give us first dibs on items she bought from someone's home in her small town of Spencer, Indiana. Once she offered us a quilt for $200. It had trapunto work, but was not particularly beautiful. Plus we had no money. So we declined.
A few weeks later, we visited some well-known quilt dealers at their home in Indianapolis. Rod Lich and Susan Parrott. Amazingly, they are still in business. I don't know why they put up with us, since we really had almost no money. While we were looking at their quilts, another dealer--from Texas--arrived. Rod and Susan showed her the trapunto quilt we had turned down. The Texas dealer bought it for $750! Rod and Susan assured her she could get $1200 for it in Texas.
Items, particularly antiques and collectibles, have no "value" other than what someone is willing to pay. And dealers sell things to other dealers. Up and up. And sometimes down.
This all made me remember a rather wonderful book I read when I lived in Indiana: The Rembrandt Panel. It was passed to me by my art-loving friend Charlotte. It concerned a picker who found a painting in a junk shop. He thought it was a Rembrandt and so brought it to an art dealer, who figured out that it indeed WAS a Rembrandt. Unfortunately (and I'm really not ruining anything since this happens early on), both these characters are killed by the bad guy. Charlotte wondered how the author could kill off such a great set of characters, especially the art dealer. After that, the plot devolved into silliness. The author--an art historian--wrote another book (not as good), and died shortly thereafter.
Now, a foray into film. I really liked the movie Please Give. The main character, played by Catherine Keener, owns a shop that wells mid-century modern furniture that she buys from estates. She feels guilty about how little she pays for things. One funny moment comes when she passes a high-end shop and sees a table the owner bought from HER shop--only he is selling it for much more than he paid, just as she did.
Issues of value, issues of knowledge, so many issues!
I am kind of relieved that I'm not interested in "collecting" things anymore.