She’s a hypnotist collector
You are a walking antique
– Bob Dylan, American musician and singer-songwriter, from She Belongs To Me
Across the street from Fat Apple’s Restaurant in El Cerrito is a store called D’Jour Floral (7512 Fairmount Avenue, El Cerrito, 525.7232). I have never gone in the store, though every time I see it I think to myself, I should check it out. A few weeks ago, after Mother’s Day breakfast, I ventured in for only a few minutes. Nobody else in our family wanted to go inside, so I took a quick inventory and made a mental note to return.
The following Sunday, after meeting my Monday Mom’s group for breakfast at Fat Apple’s, I ventured in again and this time I had the luxury of wandering around the shop. As one neighbor described it, there’s a lot of kitsch. It is a confusing store – floral shop, new vintage-inspired clothing, vintage items, and, okay, a lot of kitsch. But for those of us who love a good vintage hunt, I rolled up my sleeves and examined everything on the walls and in the display cases. That’s when I found Vivian.
When I asked to see this unusual sterling silver very thin case, the older woman, who was the owner, said, “Oh, you want to see Vivian.” The name was engraved on the piece. It was lightweight in my palm. It was intricate and in incredible shape (save for two dents in the bottom corners), and it looked like it came from the Victorian era. There are no markings and it is unsigned. The owner told me it was made in the 1880s and was used to store documents. She told me it belonged to a woman who had come through Ellis Island and had kept her important papers inside. I had this romantic vision of this woman coming from some Eastern European country and making her way out West. Do I believe the owner of the store? Perhaps it belonged to a relative of the person who had sold it to the owner and told her this story. I do want to believe it. I went home and looked up on the Internet variations “antique sterling silver document holder necklace,” but I didn’t come up with anything that looked like Vivian. I saw vintage filigree sterling silver scroll document holders that were cylindrical-shaped, but not shaped like a flat compact, which I assumed was likely more common.
The price was too dear for the piece, but the owner told me she was closing down the store because she couldn’t keep using her retirement money to keep it open. She was planning on discounting everything starting the following week. So I returned the following week, we bargained, and now Vivian is home with me. I continue to search on the Internet, but if any of my vintage-loving friends come across the history of the document holder that looks like Vivian, please share!
Oh, the treasures you’ll find when you least look for it. But you have to be open to opportunities and allow your curiosity to take you to those places you keep telling yourself you don’t have time to seek out. The shop is scheduled to close mid-June. I will go back to get some chandelier crystal pieces that the owner removed from a vintage chandelier. I am intrigued by a WWII Japanese gas mask that is hanging from a rack. It is fascinating, and yes, haunting and dark. So, I ask: How do you style that, or display that? David just merely asks: Why? Indeed!