Tuesday, April 26, 2011

It Pays To Do Your Homework, or How I Almost Lost Big Time

This one goes out to all the kids out there who don't see the point in being patient or fully researching the unique, odd-ball finds we often come across at thrift stores, antique malls, and flea markets.

Up until last night, that was me. What changed you ask?
The discovery that this $5 flea market cast-off
may actually be worth something.

According to Wikipedia, the "Googie" ashtray was designed in the 1950's by Maurice Ascalon, the "father of the modern Israeli decorative arts movement" and produced by the Pal-Bell company.

Sure, the cool little figurine caught my eye in a lonely corner of the Elephant Trunk Flea Market late last fall; but not being a smoker myself, I thought it weird to have smoking-related paraphernalia around the apartment. So, off to Ebay it went.

That was until last night, when I wanted to determine if my $25 opening bid was warranted or not.

This is when I pause for you to check out this, this, or this link. 
Clearly, winning this for $25 would have been a joke. 
A total cosmic joke on me, that is. 

I've always wanted to have my own little "Antiques Roadshow" discovery, and I did. 

See, kids, it pays to do your homework.

What cool worth-way-more-than-you-thought treasures have you found?

Many of you asked what I plan on doing with my snail ashtray--the answer: nothing, nothing at all, at least for the time being. I'll take Bri's advice and hold on to it, hoping it's eventual sale will supplement my retirement.


  1. Fun! I've always wanted to FIND something but it hasn't happened. My mom once found $750 inside a dresser she bought at a thrift store. It's not quite the same, but made the piece much more valuable :)

  2. Very exciting, Ashley! Doing your homework definitely pays off. My dolphin table is worth way more than I thought. I wouldn't have thought this little snail was an ashtray, just a cute little figurine. Good for you!

  3. Wow! Good sluething! I always hope this will happen when I find something cool, but rarely does. The closest was the pagoda bedroom set I picked up. I saw the nightstands on Pieces for $2895 for the pair. She is way overpriced, but hey... that is 10x what I bought the entire set for.
    So what are you going to do with it now?

  4. Oh, great find!! I don't usually find anything...but have to confess that I don't do my homework well enough! Take care, Caroline

  5. Ashley, that is so neat! I thought it was a snail! Anyway, I love watching the Antique Roadshow and this is such a cool story!

  6. Oh my goodness, that's amazing! What are you going to do with it?!

  7. Great find and good detective work! Hmmm...I have a few items that I see on First Dibs or even OKL for way more than what I paid. But not sure what that means...they are just marketing it up, so what is the true value!?!

  8. Oh my gosh! I love this little thing smoking paraphernalia or not! I'm so glad you kept it or at least aren't short changing yourself.

  9. Guurl I do my research hadcore when I find something I think might be worth something. It pays to have internet on yo phone. I've found many things like this. I usually keep em I figure they will just be worth mire as time goes by.

  10. What a great find...love when you get something that turns out to be more than you expect!!

  11. Lucky you! I love this story. Sadly I've never experienced this but that doesn't stop me from buying more and more stuff :)

  12. What a cute piece! I'm glad you are keeping it. It would look so cute on you "West Elm" side table with a stack of books.
    I have to admit I don't normally do my homework either. I just buy what I like :)

  13. Lucky, lucky ducky! It is so cute. Let us know what you end up doing with it! My friend just bought a chinese bowl for $3 in Montecito, thinking it might be worth something. She sold it through Sotheby's for thousands! So you're absolutely right; it pays to research.

  14. Oh duh! I just saw that you're keeping it. Good decision. :)

  15. Oh my! Glad you found out before it was too late!!

  16. SCORE! I hate doing homework. Its something I need to work on.

    Based on the auction I went to yesterday (which was all antiques dealers and myself)I've learned that stuff can be had for cheap and then is marked up a shit-ton. Finders fee!

  17. Great find! Pretty rare. I have one of these ashtrays myself...I love it. My grandfather was Maurice Ascalon (1913-2003), the piece's designer. Check out this site for more info on Maurice and his Pal-Bell Company. Enjoy!
    -Eric Ascalon

  18. Yahoo! Pal-Bell Group:


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