I’m mostly returned from my chemical absence and freshly engaged with the conscious world. Nigh bed ridden to boot, gout keeping me hobbled by the desk. Time for an update.
I don’t recall much of the last few weeks, but I can’t imagine there was much before yesterday worth noting, so it’s no great loss. As with Edison on his quest to properly steal the light bulb, I’ve merely discovered another way not to cure my depression. After a few weeks of counter titration I might be ready to try another med, but until then I’m grateful for my return to normalcy, no matter the quality of said norm. It’s still better than a state semi-sapient somnambulism which I’d inhabited of late.
If this post is confusing, pay no mind. Clarity was not much my concern while writing.
I finally made it to Saturday’s market yesterday, a place to which I’d wanted to return for months. A place that, for a near identical duration, I’d managed to forget about, oversleep through, or otherwise miss. As the indoor part of the market occurs once a week, there is a small window for attendance and a large chasm to miss it by. The shop I’d wanted to visit was a sort of hardware store, a cluttered and narrow booth run by two delightful old men who seemed concerned more with being pleasant to their customers as they were breaking even. I remember my previous visit some years ago, during which I wanted to buy something that hadn’t any tag, so one of the fellows asked me if I thought five dollars was all right. For a well made American tool, the modern Chinese made equivalent of which would cost close to sixty dollars, five dollars was more than all right.
I loved visiting that booth, listening to the owners joke with and tease each other and talk with their customers, new and returning, as friends.
Unfortunately, the booth is now gone. The whole of the market seems to have had a depressing fault slip into redneck hell. It always had an undercurrent of country bigotry trickling beneath its earnest agrarian nature. Since I’d last attended that current has welled up and swallowed the whole of the place. There was nothing for me there, nothing I wanted from the seven separate vape shops, nor from the myriad of kipple and crap dealers.
I was very disappointed, having finally gotten what I’d wanted after months of waiting only to find that what I’d hoped for no longer exists.
Mary convinced me to go to an antique market across the river. I was skeptical, “antique market” a term conjuring an image less of bargain priced, master crafted tools, and more of incredibly expensive things passed between men closer to the financially comfortable parts of their lives than I. Still, Mary wouldn’t let me wallow. Glad I am that she didn’t. The market turned out to be a small warehouse filled with unmanned booths, two hundred or so micro stores. With no salesman, one was free to browse at will. It was the perfect setup for conscientious socially anxious.
Mary and I spent a few hours browsing through the materials. There seemed to be no theme, some shops having what looked like garage sale left overs, while others had antiques more in line with expectations come of the building’s name. It was interesting to note patterns of goods, what items survived for a century, what types of things kept popping up and what seemingly common items were absent.
I found a honing block at one of the first places we looked through, but after carrying it for an hour, returned it, realizing I had no idea exactly what sort it was, whether it required oil, water, or neither (the difference being important as a stone requiring oil, say, would damage and be damaged by a tool if used dry or with water). Still, the place was fascinating and I began to cheer up. After more searching and hidden seeking, I ended up with a jack plane, a hollow nose chisel, a two inch chisel, and a scribe compass.
I was very happy with my finds, happier still with their cost. I got the lot for sixty dollars. Mary enjoyed herself as well, and seemed to enjoy my enjoyment of the shopping trip. As a sort of self amusement, she used her phone to look up the tools I’d bought, and apparently I made out very well.
The flat chisel I bought was well thought of, the consensus amounting to “buy one if you see one, but don’t go crazy in its pursuit.” They seemed to go for a bit over a hundred dollars online. The hollow nose chisel had a bit of a different story. Made by an enigmatic tool maker about a hundred years ago, Witherby chisels have an oddly devoted and voracious community of collectors who’ve driven the average price to well over a hundred dollars. I think I spent eight on mine. The jack plane is a Sargent, the company which would later become Stanely. New hand planers seem to hover around the one hundred thirty mark. Mine was thirty two. In her research, the cheapest Mary found Sargent planers selling for was three hundred dollars. One model from the same series as mine was selling for nearly a thousand dollars on a tool website.
I don’t normally get any great pleasure from bargain hunting, nor any real enjoyment from pinching pennies or looking over items and knowing I could have paid more and didn’t. I don’t like wasting money, but I dislike being miserly. What makes me so happy about yesterday’s purchases, and what had made me so crestfallen at Saturday’s market is what the tools’ prices represent.
I am not yet terribly successful in my business. I’ve about reached the limit of what I can make with the tools I own, but cannot afford more tools due to their high price and my low income. I refuse to buy the poorly constructed ones come of China; I don’t trust them to be free of carcinogenic materials, I don’t wish to support the inhuman conditions of Chinese factories, and simply put, the tools have too short a lifespan to bother with. Antique tools are my best option. They require finding, and often some refinishing if not outright repair. They are thus not in high demand outside the niche worlds to which they belong. There’s little competition over them in the central marketplace. I had relied on the stall at Saturday’s market provide me access to tools I couldn’t otherwise afford, creating a proportional relationship between them and my budget more in line with a successful business. More clearly stated, cheap tools make it as if I were wealthier. Without that stall I feared I’d never, or not anytime soon, be able to expand and improve my business. The antique market filled that void and assuaged my fears. More than that, it supplanted one small shop half an hour off with a huge selection ten minutes from my house.