I love curio shops. None of them excite much curiosity, mind, because I know what they are going to sell, but there is still a sense of adventure about looking at the price tags. Some of them are high enough to give you a nose bleed.
I’m not talking about Op-Shops – those will be the subject of a separate posting – I’m talking country town bric a brac tourist trap shops. The sort of shop that P.T. Barnum would have opened. The depository of all the trash from the surrounding district, boosted upon a regular interval with the trash of several districts in the Dutch East Indies or French Indochina. This is sent in 40-foot sea containers. It’s not a bad way of packaging your imports as the furniture and brass pots keep the heroin fresher.
Okay – you go into the door of the Olde Countrye Curioe Shoppe and are immediately struck by the thought that “e”s must be cheap to manufacture – every word seems to have several extras. If you are hoping that this indicates that the proprietors of the shop are such rubes as to not know the value of their goods, you are shortly to be corrected. Lift up the price tag on the rusty tin foot bath. Read it.
Now sit down and breathe. Breathe. That’s it. The world will stop swimming in a minute.
There you have it. The tin bath came from Batavia on a boat a month ago. It was banged out on a stump by a 15-year-old who gets paid 30¢ for the job. The basic material came from old oil tins. The inscription on the side ” Thos. Bathplugg Ironworks. Bristol 1878 ” is stamped into it for the British trade. For the container to the US it is stamped ” Thos. Bathplugg Ironworks. Pittsburg 1878″. Shit, They probably stamp them in Japanese for Osaka.
It IS a bathtub, and it IS rusty, so you cannot say it is not what it purports to be, and the proprietor of the Olde Countrye is entitled legally to ask any price he wishes – and is not obliged to disclose that he purchased it for $ 5.00. You cannot call the cops. The only resort you have is your feet – turn them around and run for the door.
Be careful not to knock anything over as you go.