The Wanderlust Lady and the Door to Door Salesman - 31
February 9, 2013
Saturday arrived, and I couldn't wait to see how my bracelet soaking overnight in soapy water was doing. But even with giving it a hard scrub with the tooth brush, some of the shoe polish was still there. Obviously it was the chemicals that had done the trick before. I decided I'd go out and buy some baking soda which is a chemical too, of course, but I could use it dry on the wet tooth brush – and see what effect that had on it.
I'd done enough painting for this week – so was happy to leave the second coat on
the rest of the house for Monday and however many extra days it took. I still had the task of clearing the attic, and getting rid of the spare items. And I still needed to make a decision about what to do with the pictures.
I was amazed at how innocuous the little container of baking soda was. It looked sort of like flour. I put a small amount into a bowl, and then wetting the tooth brush with warm water, put the brush in and start scrubbing. I wasn't expecting what happened next. The baking soda reacted with the water and made bubbles and expanded all over the place with a fizzing noise. But when I looked at the toothbrush, I saw lots of brown colour had passed onto it – so knew I was onto a winner. I had another container with clean hot water, so I would rinse off the brush, dip it in clean water, then the baking soda, then scrub the bracelet for a minute or two – wipe it off – and repeat the process – perhaps five times. As far as I could see every bit of polish was gone.
Just to be on the safe side, I made a solution of baking soda and water, which fizzed
very well – and dropped the bracelet in, so it was completely covered. After five minutes, I took it out and wiped it dry on the wash rag. It was as golden as the day I bought it. I buffed it a bit more. Then deciding to go to the jewellery shop where I'd bought it
before I lost my nerve, I did just that, wrapping it carefully in bubble wrap and putting it into a plastic bag. I thought about the fancy box that I'd been offered when I first bought it that I had said was of no interest to me whatsoever. It would have done a treat now that I was going to try to sell it back.
As before, I had to ring a bell and say that I had some gold to sell through the intercom
system, and then the door was released for me to enter. It was the same man who had waited on me before – but that had been in September, and now it was February. I wondered if he would recognise me.
“Can I help you sir? You mentioned some gold you have to sell?”
“Yes, I want to sell this bracelet.” I got it out of its wrapping and showed it to
“Did you buy this from us?”
“Yes, I did, back in September.”
“Oh, yes, I think I remember. You first asked for rings but thought this was less showy. Don't you like it any more?”
“Yes, I do like it still, but I need to get the money from it to buy something else.”
“And what is it that you want to buy?”
“Gold sovereigns and half sovereigns”
“Really? You can hardly wear them.”
“I don't want to wear them. I want to give them as a present to someone. Do you sell
“Yes, of course, we do. But we don't have a large selection on hand. Do you know which kind you want?”
“I want 21 sovereigns, one from each year, dating from 1887, and 21 half
sovereigns, again one from each year dating from 1942.”
“Heavens, that's very specific. We certainly can't provide you with all of those
today. But let's deal with the bracelet first. It does show signs of wear and tear – little scratches on the surface. I won't be able to give you anywhere near the price I charged you for it.”
“Well, I know that gold has gone up in value over these six months, and I know that the
scrap value for it is £37.70 a gram for 22 caret gold. I know it weighs over 100 grams. So if you don't give me at least £3770 for it, I'll find somebody else who will.”
“Do you remember how much you paid for it?”
“You were asking £4000, but I think you knocked off £50. But I expect the same
bracelet that you might have in stock today would be priced at £4500.”
“We have to make a living too, you know.”
“Well, do we have a deal or not?”
“Yes, I'll buy the bracelet back for £3750 – as I knocked a bit off when you were
buying, you should be prepared to do the same.”
“I need to know how much it will cost me to buy the sovereigns before I agree to
anything. How about I come back to your shop on Wednesday next week, and if you can provide me with the 21 sovereigns in the appropriate dates, and the 21 half-sovereigns, then we have a deal – and no money need change hands. How about that?”
“Does the quality of the Sovereigns matter?”
“I would like them as good as possible – as long as I can get them within that price
range. But I've done my homework on the subject – so I will have a pretty good idea if you try to pass off some very poor quality ones and charge top price for them.”
“I can assure you, sir, that we would not do that.”
“Okay. Well, I'll take my bracelet back in the meantime, and come here, what about 10
a.m. on Wednesday?”
“Can I contact you in the meantime if I cannot find the appropriate coins?”
“I'm not on the phone, so the answer to that is no. If you haven't found them by
then, I'll try my luck on the internet. I found a site before where the guy has all the years covered.”
“Well, I shall certainly do my best. Until Wednesday then, Mr. I don't believe I
know your name.”
“Mr. Smith,” I lied and I'm sure he knew that I was.
I knew that I had two letters to write when I got home – one to Mrs. Mills and one to
the Manx Museum.
Dear Mrs. Mills,
Thank you for your letter. You will be pleased to know that the painting is coming
on a treat. I've finished the first coat on the inside painting, and by the end of next week, will have finished the second. The outside painting is done, and I have made a start on the garden.
I did find some silver in a trunk in the attic, which is what I assume that Minnie was referring to. I will keep looking for anything gold. While I was in the attic, I found some paintings – small things – and took the liberty of taking one of them to the Antiques Roadshow at Lyme Park last weekend. They didn't find it interesting enough to feature
on their programme, but did tell me who the artists was – a man called John Millar Nicholson who painted mostly scenes from the Isle of Man. It think that is what these pictures are. The expert told me that the picture was in poor condition, but that if it was restored, with the other three, they might be worth £1000 or so. I don't know what the restoration costs would entail, but I daresay they would be high. Would you like me to
contact someone from the Isle of Man to get a more detailed estimate of their value and the costs involved?
Also, I appreciate the idea of me trying to sell the odd items of furniture. I don't know how much they would bring – but I found out the cost of a house clearance would be over £100 and then the people who picked up the furniture would have the benefit from selling them on as well.
The man across the road has been very friendly, offering me the use of his ladder for the outside work, so I didn't need to buy one. He also expressed a possible interest in buying this house, once the house he is living in and redoing at the moment is sold. However, he thought it would bequite some time before he finished that, so he isn't likely to be in a position to offer for this one.
Hoping that you and Mr. Mills are in good health,
Thank you for your letter. I have inquired of the owner of the pictures about your
kind offer, and have not yet had a reply. However, since your colleague will be in the area next week, I think I can presume her agreement will be with me before then, and would be very pleased to have the pictures ready for him to see about 2 p.m.
However, unless I have the owners expressed permission, I will not be able to sell them
to him at that time. Perhaps with regard for that, you would prefer to delay the meeting.
I thought that was a good touch, putting in the letter to Mrs. Mills about me selling
things privately. The post office board is full of notices about furniture and other items for sale. And there is a car boot sale at the Rose Hill train station car park area on the 4th Sunday of each month. If Mrs. Mills agrees to it, I could have a stall there for my smaller items at the end of this month.
I posted the letters in the box up the road, and then seeing him in his garden, I returned
Fred's ladder to him.
“Nice job you've done there, Stan. Lucky with the weather, weren't you?”
“Boy was I. And thanks for the ladder. I couldn't have done it without.”
“How much more time do you reckon you have to put into the house?”
“I should be done with the painting by the end of next week. But I need to do some more in the garden, and she wants me to sell off the extra bits. I thought of taking it to a car boot next weekend.”
“Is there lots of stuff to sell then?”
“Well, I need to keep a minimum of furniture in the house to make it look better for
viewing, but there's all the kitchen bits and pieces stuff like that.”
“You don't have a car, though do you?”
“It's a car boot sale – people will have a base for their selling stuff – their
boot plus a large table to display stuff on. Have you got anything like that?”
“I think Minnie had a card table. I was going to sell it.”
“Well, tell you what. I need to get rid of some stuff too. You sign us up and I'll go
with you and we can use my truck as the display space for your stuff. But I sure don't want to hang around all morning selling stuff, so you can sell my stuff, and keep the money separate – and that will pay me for the use of my truck. What do you say?”
“Thanks very much. That sounds great. It means that I can take bigger stuff too – like
a chest of drawers.”
“You know that if the stuff doesn't get sold, you have to bring it back.”
“Well that's okay. I can advertise on the post office board for anything that doesn't
“When you're done with the painting, I can give you a few day's work painting here for
the week after. I'd give you £7.50 an hour. I know that is below what most painters get – but I've done all the hard preparation work already – so its quite an easy job. What do you say?”
“Make it £8 and it's a deal,” I said, and he agreed.
I went back into the attic, and brought down, bit by bit – all the contents of the
chest, and then the chest itself. When I had the walls second coated, I would put these Isle of Man pictures up to replace the ones Minnie had there. Then the others could be sold at the car boot.
I decided not to bring the bed or trunk down just yet. The chest I could prop in the back hallway for the time being, and I could get rid of the extra bits of Minnie's clothing and the stuff from upstairs in one of those bags that the charities keep putting through my door. There was a collection coming by on Monday so I could get that organised now.
I thought it would be a shame to put up the dirty curtains on the newly painted windows – but the house needed to have curtains. So I decided to just peg them on the line and let the dust blow out of them, and they would then smell fresher too – as long as I didn't let them get wet.
After I got the curtains in before dusk, I decided to celebrate my good fortune, and
went to the Navigation for supper and a night's drinking.