Thursday, April 20, 2017

Back to Where We Started

Some things are never easy—but they are still worth the try.

It occurred to me, while puzzling over how a 1936 photograph album from Cork, Ireland, could make it all the way to California when there was no one in the family living here at the time, that perhaps I could find a different way to answer my question.

After all, though it took almost three months to figure out where the album came from—and who the family was, sending it—some things may not lend themselves best to genealogical solutions. Perhaps there was another way to discover how the album landed in the antique shop where I found it.

I had noticed there were two unobtrusive white stickers affixed to the back of the album. The purpose of one of them, of course, was to notify the potential buyer of the asking price. The other, also bearing numbers, was likely a code of some type—though handwritten, hopefully some sort of tracking or inventory code.

I don't know much about how to run an antique store. Presumably, the owner goes to special locations where such treasures may be bought, obtains items most likely to move quickly off the store's shelves, and adds them to the store's inventory—hopefully for the duration of a brief shelf life.

Since it was my daughter who introduced me to the antique shop in the first place, I ran my idea by her to see if it was reasonable: go back to the store and see if the code could lead me to where the item had been obtained by the shopkeeper.

We made a mid-morning coffee date and started out on our expedition, back to the antique store. Arriving in town at what seemed to be a quiet hour of business, we breezed in the door and found ourselves talking with the woman behind the counter in a matter of minutes. While she was willing to help, right away she brought up the down side: the store was actually a consignment shop, and the code on the back of my album actually told her which contact person was responsible for that object.

Only problem: for whatever confidentiality reasons there are among antique dealers, she could not reveal her source for this sale item. But she did offer to forward to that person any message I might want to send.

So there I was, yesterday morning—before my cup of coffee—pulling out a business card and scribbling a note on the back.

How do you explain a story like the one we've just been through in the past three months? It doesn't really fit on the back of a business card—nor on the paper the shopkeeper so kindly offered for the continuation of the tale. I thought about including a link to A Family Tapestry so this antique dealer could read it for herself—but then, I found out she was likely not online, herself.

All I could do was write my plea for assistance, and walk out, hoping for the best. And really, considering I probably bought the album at least two years ago, how could I expect anything at all?

Well, at least I could expect my cup of coffee. With a shorter visit than expected at that lovely little antique store, now we'd have even more time to enjoy it.


  1. Your contact with the granddaughter has worked out well. Let's hope you have equal success with the consigner. I hope it turns out to be family and not just someone who bought it at a yard sale X number of years ago.

    1. Well, even if it does turn out to be a yard sale specialist, let's hope it's someone who keeps good records. All I need is the next clue...

  2. I would of done the same thing. Genealogy is much more than just names of people -

    1. Agreed, Debby. And this little album is giving me far more familial context than I ever dreamed possible!

  3. :0 I hope you hear something soon:) Did you buy any more photos when you were there? :)

    1. So far, haven't heard anything. I'll have to make a return visit when I get back to town. Then we can budget some time for more photo shopping.

      Meanwhile, there are these great antique shops in New England...


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