Carved in memory
A Ming's collector cannot understand those who skip the long, arduous search for their objects of desire
» A collector's story
Linda Lee cannot understand collectors who skip the long, arduous search for their objects of desire, in favor of buying another individual's collections outright.
"To me, that's not collecting, that's accumulating. You don't get to meet the people who owned the pieces, or to hear their stories. To me, that's the fun part," said the collector of Ming's jewelry, who will be offering casual appraisals during the Hawaii All-Collectors Show this weekend.
"I started collecting by going to the collectors show, and I'm coming full circle, doing a display there."
Hawaii All-Collectors Show 2007
» Time: 4 to 9 p.m. tomorrow, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday
» Place: Blaisdell Exhibition Hall
» Admission: $4; $2 children; $15 for early entry at 2 p.m. Friday
» Call: 941-9754
» Also: Hawaiian Islands Vintage Surf Auction will be held in conjunction with the show.
The stories behind individual pieces of jewelry, linking people and objects to a particular place and time, appeal to Lee's inner historian. One search on eBay, for instance, resulted in her purchase of a rare sculptural brooch of silver and ivory from a person in Pennsylvania.
"It was from a man who was selling it for his aunt, and it was one of a kind. Mr. (Wook) Moon would often make one thing, put it in a case and never make it again. ...
"The man who bought it was in the Navy and bought it here during World War II and sent it to his girlfriend. I don't know what happened but she never married him."
The seller sent the piece with a photo of the sailor, signed in the back, "From Pete Fortin, Shirley I love you."
"He must have really loved her, because he chose such a beautiful piece," Lee said.
Then there's the other kind of story, of the relationship that lasted, in spite of the jewelry.
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"I started collecting by going to the collectors show and I'm coming full circle, doing a display here."
Collector, wearing a Ming's dragon brooch
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"One woman had this blue sea horse set from Ming's, but she never wore it. She hated it. She said, 'My husband bought me this. Why the heck would he buy me this?'
"Then she turned to her husband and asked again, 'Why did you buy me this?' He was all meek and just said, 'I thought it was nice.'"
The set kept all its color, and the particular blue "is real rare," Lee said. "You cannot find it today."
The husband probably paid less than $20 for it in the 1960s; Lee said it would probably be worth about $1,000 today.