Column: Some good luck in a thrift shop leads to a find that is hard to repeat

Lisa Versprille Burkett [Courtesy]

SANDBRIDGE — An odd piece of crystal caught my eye while I wandered through a thrift store in Norfolk not so long ago. I noticed it because it was in the back of some plain everyday glassware. 

Though the item was covered in clear packing tape, I could tell it was pretty from its shine.

It was an odd shape, however. It had a base and what looked like a dome top. It might have been in two pieces. But it looked interesting enough and, at $7.99, was affordable enough for me to take a chance. 

It was a heavy piece. I grabbed a wicker basket that was for sale to put it in. On the way home, I stopped by my mother’s house to show her. I didn’t want to take all the tape off, but we both agreed that it was cut crystal and unusual.

When I got home, I carefully removed all the tape. It was a stunning two-piece crystal dish.

My imagination began to run wild. Maybe this was a replica of something meant to resemble the Vatican. Or was it some sort of corporate award? 

I set it on our wooden bar and turned the overhead lights on. The dish, about 10 inches high and 19 inches around its base, radiated light and color. 


I got to the computer and entered search words that I thought would bring up pictures of this crystal. I was looking for a candy dish but soon learned it is considered a biscuit barrel. Upon further research, I discovered that biscuit barrel was the English version of a cookie jar.  

This piece of crystal, designed to look like the U.S. Capitol, was made by Waterford, the Irish holy grail of fine crystal, for the 1976 United States bicentennial in a limited production. My $8 purchase originally cost $499.  

Was it for sale anywhere now?  All the sites that claimed they’d had one marked it sold. One site had the bottom base with no lid at $200. I was beyond excited. 

The Waterford mark on the bottom. Limited production. A noticeable introductory price. Like new condition. Retro cool.

Most of all, a very unusual piece to be used as a conversation starter if we are ever able to have friends over to the house again.

It occurred to me that I might have a good eye for crystal.

My gosh, look what I had picked out. Maybe I could do this part time – find cool stuff and sell it on the internet. I began to read everything I could about crystal. I set out to the thrift stores to see what I could discover.  

So, over the past few months, I have stood in the aisles of area thrift stores lifting crystal in the air to see if there was a mark and typing on my phone to see what it may have sold for online.

I have learned identifying crystal is not easy. There are tons of manufacturers and thousands of patterns. I’d bring home what I thought would be a sure seller only to find a small chip I didn’t see in the store. 

Or I didn’t search correctly and found hundreds of the same product listed for sale. My fiancé Bob became concerned when items began to collect in my office and the guest bedroom. He thought the idea was to sell things and make money.

I explained that I was still in the learning phase, but my sales were going to take off as soon as I got all the listings online.  

He spotted attractive, tall beer glasses on my shelf and asked whether he could have them. No, I said. These cost 78 cents apiece, and they’re going online for $10 to $12 each. 

Bob says everything I’d purchased was going to end up in a garage sale this summer anyway.

Unfortunately, that yard sale is looking like a real possibility because my good luck has been hard to reproduce. 

If Bob still wants those glasses, I’ll consider a discount.

The author is a new grandparent who lives in Sandbridge.

© 2021 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC


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