Dancing Outside The Comfort Zone

Posted by Holly 03/26/2013 0 Comment(s)

Ask any antique dealer who deals in the eclectic and I'm rather certain they'll tell you of at least one buying experience that left them saying, "What was I thinking!" When you buy on a whim with the hopes of selling for a profit, sometimes you just need to be a bit of a gambler. Even when it's a losing hand, the experience provides the adventure of learning. And on those occasions you're a winner... well, you just can't help but celebrate another chance to practice your happy dance.


Such was the case for me a few years back when I attended a thinning-the-inventory auction of a local brick-and-mortar dealer. One of the many items that caught my eye was a large button that appeared to be Japanese, given its colors and graceful style, but Orientalia wasn't my strong suit. I could tell it was old simply from its looks and condition, but beyond that all I knew was I was willing to take a chance. I also took comfort in knowing there was a strong collecting base for both Orientalia and buttons. I crossed my fingers and raised my bid, hoping the cross-appeal would prove the gamble worthy. Thankfully, my sense of adventure didn't waver and the other bidders dropped out, allowing me to be the one to tell this story.


Once back at my computer, it only took a bit of research to learn the proper technique name — Ginbari — where silver foil is wrapped around a metal body, applied with a translucent/transparent enamel. With that information, I was then able to start the search for comparable listings in an effort to establish a value. However, as is the case with items that are hard to find or even rare, there were no reliable comps; this button was larger than any others I was finding, and the major wild card was the fact that this button was decorated on both sides, not just one. Again, just trusting my gut, I decided to let the market set the price and listed the button on eBay with a low starting bid of a mere $0.99.


One week later, you couldn't miss me doing a happy dance when the final bid came in just shy of $400. Yes, sometimes it's most enjoyable to be dancing outside the comfort zone!


Large ginbari button - front view


Large ginbari button - back view


Research results on large Ginbari buttons


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