I have a thing for Chinese pierced porcelain; not expensive antiquities, of course — I could never afford them — but charming, mid-20th century stuff in the manner of the pieces above. I found the first two (the taller vase and the lidded jar) in Savannah, GA for around $250 for the pair. The third was a lucky strike at Toronto’s St. Lawrence Antiques Market for about $40 and I’ve narrowly missed out on a couple of others. I can’t quite say what the allure is for me but I’m bewitched by the mix of the lattice pattern with the cherry blossom branches.
You can imagine my reaction when I happened upon the image below from the U.S. vintage dealer, Ideal Surroundings. Don’t ask me how or why I ended up on their site, I have absolutely no idea — probably doing a Google image search for one thing or another. The point is, once I saw that lamp I had to have it. The dealer, a woman named Michelle, informed me that it was $150 USD, sans shade. I asked her to price the packing and shipping and she came back with a figure of $41. Now, there’s no question that I did not need this lamp but when you collect something that’s hard to find and suddenly stumble upon a piece, reason is the first casualty. At least it was for me in this case.
I agreed to the purchase and placed the order, which duly arrived via UPS about a week later. Unfortunately, the delivery came with a $63.33 UPS brokerage fee, payable upon delivery. All told, I was now paying more than $100 to ship a $150 item. Lamp or no lamp, I wasn’t feeling very bright. I knew I could refuse the delivery and have the charge reversed on my credit card but then the dealer would have been dinged for the entire UPS charge, $100 bucks and no sale. I didn’t have the heart to do that to her so I paid the bill.
In our subsequent communication Michelle stated she had no knowledge of additional costs over and above the agreed upon $41. In the future, when placing an order like this from a foreign vendor I would ask the dealer to get explicit details from the shipping company about any further brokerage fees, duties or taxes required; this is their business and they should know the answers to the questions. If I had had that conversation with the dealer and then found myself on the hook for extra fees I likely would have sent the piece back. I admit my enjoyment of the lamp has been tainted a little by the experience; had I known it would cost me $250 I would have taken a pass. Caveat emptor.