everything has a story: the tortoiseshell frame

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antique tortoiseshell frames containing old mirrors in the entry

a close-up
(all photos will enlarge when clicked)
this frame, the largest, hangs on the bottom. it was found at an antiques shop in Jackson, Mississippi

this frame, which hangs in the center, was found on our first trip to Paris and our first trip to the Paris Flea Market at Porte de Clignancourt/ Marche aux Puces

the top tortoiseshell frame, the one with the story

the story
I was an antiques dealer for ten years while living in Dallas. We made several trips to France to buy. Dan was my silent partner, okay sometimes not so silent;) partner who moved, restored, waxed furniture; made lamps; shopped with me; etc, etc... so when I refer to "we" you'll know I'm referring to me and Dan!
We would travel to France with other antiques dealers, and the dealers would share a container to ship back all of our finds to the states.

It was a Saturday afternoon, and we had been at the Paris Flea Market since dawn. Shops were closing and our van had arrived to take us back to our hotel. As we drove out narrow Rue de Rosiers with shops lining the drive we became stopped in traffic. Not wanting to miss a second of shopping I was "window shopping" from my seat in the van, and spied an antique tortoiseshell frame holding an antique painting in the window of a closed shop. I knew instantly that I wasn't interested in the painting, but was very (heart skipping beats) interested in the frame, and wondered if the dealer would sell it without the painting. I don't think I slept all night fantasizing about the frame: would it still be there the next day, would the dealer sell it without the painting, could I afford it even if he would???
The next day was Sunday, and was our only day on this trip to go to the Louvre, as we were leaving for Avignon that night. And, I love the Louvre.... love, love, love! Our favorite part being the fabulous paintings on the second floor of the Richelieu wing. (We are also known to enjoy the Sully wing, and know how to embarrass ourselves in a foreign country... here!) So, I had a dilemma, a big dilemma... go to the Louvre or be at the flea market at opening to try to buy "my" frame. I knew that if I wasn't there at opening, it would be gone.

I chose the Louvre.

While at the Louvre that Sunday morning we saw several frames almost identical to my frame at the flea market proudly framing stunning pieces of art.... I was heartsick. I was now starting to regret my choice!
So, late in the afternoon we made our way back to Marche aux Puce. Sure enough, I walk up to the shop and the painting/frame is gone from the front window. I walk into the shop hoping it has just been moved. I carefully look all over the tiny shop several times, and it is nowhere to be seen. Now, I am really heartsick. I leave the shop only to come back 5 minutes later to have one more look, just to make sure!
I leave once again, but turn around down the block and go back one more time...
(You know how you do that, when you find a great find and you always go back to that exact same spot where you originally found the object. Or...you always go back to the exact same spot of the one thing that you went back to buy and it was now sold... like it was going to magically reappear.)
Once again, inch by inch I scan the tiny shop and there waaaaaaay up on top of a cabinet (almost as if intentionally hidden) sits my frame. No painting, just my frame!! I literally squealed! I can hardly breathe at this point, and manage to express to the dealer (could have been me jumping up and down, with arms flailing wildly that helped him know I was interested!) that I would like to look at the frame; the dealer gets it down- no price.
The dealer spoke no English, and while I, sadly, do not speak French usually we each (the dealer and I) know just enough words/phrases between us that we can figure things out. Not in this case. There was zero communication going on. As it happened, on this trip our group had hired a translator who was at the market and via walkie-talkies could help us out in just such a situation.
We had our translator speak to the dealer. The dealer explained that just that morning someone came in and wanted to purchase only the painting!!
Can you believe it?!!!
The price was a steal, and I almost kicked Dan in the shin;) as he tried to wheel and deal for an even better price, as I happily grunted "JUST BUY IT"!!!!!! I then ran out of the store afraid the dealer would change his mind, or realize that he could have charged me about 10 times what I paid!
I looked something like this, my all-time favorite Ikea commercial depicting me and Dan on many antique shopping forays!! I can not watch this without laughing until I cry..... here!