I was learning as much as I could absorb, but the pace was maddening--I couldn't get the info into my head fast enough. My eye served me well in many instances, but I needed to raise the bar.
In my second or third year of involvement in the Native American jewelry trade something important happened. An avid collector purchased a piece from me on eBay, was pleased with his purchase, and we struck up a conversation that led to him becoming the first of my collectors; I now had someone to show my better acquisitions to that would be straight forward with me concerning attributes of a piece that I was either confused about, or just plain wrong.
The flagship image of Native Treasures is a piece he acquired from me as an enhancement to his bolo tie collection. When it landed in my hands, my first thought was of him. I knew it was something special and couldn't wait to show him. He agreed and I felt I had reached a point where my acquisitions skills had improved enough to garner his approval. This was a big deal to me.
During the course of our relationship he has humbled me regularly by correcting my assessment of the pieces I offer him. He has a deep appreciation for the art form, has been a collector for a very long time, and although there was no real motivation for him to assist in my education, he did so without reserve. I owe him a huge debt of gratitude, and I'm pleased that our relationship continues.
I just missed meeting him in person during a recent trip to the east coast. We both had our hands full and the weather was prohibitive (10 to 14 degrees with high winds the whole time I was there). He put me up in a fine hotel and gave me many useful pointers on navigating the landscape. I still haven't a clue as to what he looks like and am hopeful we'll meet one day--I must view his collection as it promises to be a thing of wonder and amazement.
He sits on my shoulder now when I'm in the field--I consider what his opinion would be and it either moves me to acquire, or throws up a big stop sign. The bar has been raised considerably over the years and it's due in part to this man's patient contributions to my knowledge base.
It's a rare thing to meet someone of integrity that also happens to be kind.
I thank you sir. You are truly a gentleman.