Monday, November 06, 2006

On Going Negotiations

Two weeks ago I talked about my collection of antique plumbing parts that I want to transmogrify in to even older plumbing parts for the downstairs bathroom. The stuff I have is the wrong vintage, and also, it’s just the wrong type in many cases.

I have 3 complete toilets that pre-date WWII, and then 3 toilet tanks. The toilets are nice, but they don’t look right. I’ve decided to lean Victorian in the bathroom and the 1931 Standard Moderns toilet, for instance, would look out of place with it’s art deco lines.

So I contacted a place called DEA Bath to see if they would want to buy or trade my plumbing parts for some things I am going to need from them. It’s been a few days shy of two weeks, and I contacted them by snail mail, so it’s not time to panic because I haven’t heard of them. At the time I contacted them there was really nothing I needed in the meager selection of local salvage places, so I didn’t offer the items to anyone locally. Well, this past week that changed.

One of the 3 or so places in town that would deal with this sort of thing has decided to go out of business after more than 2 decades because the owners are retiring. Another place in town, actually owned by some friends of mine, negotiated to take some bulky items off their hands. They got some display cases, and things like that. Also as part of this deal they got 2 Victorian marble vanities, a per WWI Crane toilet, an two oak tanks. Any of these items would be perfect for my bathroom.

I won’t go in to why those items weren’t available to me when I went in to the store that is now closing. It is a troubling question as to why I can go in to a salvage place and ask about toilets and marble vanities and the owners tell me there is nothing available, and yet they magically appear a few weeks later. I won’t go in to this because it speaks volumes about the owners of this place that is now closing down. I’ve been in their shop many times in the last 4 years and the only time I ever bought anything was when I purchased it from their assistant. I could write several blog entries about my odd experiences with the owners, but I’ll just leave the whole thing there.

So now I have two vanities, a complete Crane toilet, and 2 oak high tanks without the bowls to chose from. I already have an oak high tank, but I need a rear spud bowl, and I also need a marble vanity. My friends called me on Saturday and told me the items were now in their possession and I should come down to the shop. I dropped everything and ran.

It turns out the only thing I can use is one of the marble vanities. I don’t need the two oak tanks and they don’t want to brake up the Crane tank and bowl set. That’s fine. They then came over to my house on Sunday to view my selection. To be honest, a lot of the stuff I have is not too spectacular. The 1931 Standard Modernus is pretty cool, and then I have 2 very, very nice tanks with matching lids from the early 1920s. Those three items together would go for about $1,600 on the DEA Bath web site. Throw in the other tanks, toilets, and sink I have and they retail for more than $2,500 on-line. I’m not going to get retail for them, I know.

The real interesting thing was one of the tanks I have. It is a 1922 Standard tank and it is an exact match for a tank they have in their one and only bathroom at their house. They’re nuts about antique plumbing and plan on putting in two more bathrooms in their house. They really would love to have this tank. Advantage Greg.

We haven’t talked money yet, and I’m not even sure what they are asking for the marble vanity with sink. They showed me a very nice 1902 Trenton Pottery china bowl that they have at home that they said they could make available to me. What I would really like to have is the 1897 toilet bowl they recently acquired. They plan to put it in their downstairs bath. There house is a 1910 Colonial Revival Four Square and I joked when I saw it about how that 1897 bowl would be much more fitting in my house. {It was no joke}

Then this morning as I was leaving for work my neighbor Gary, the now famous plumber who helped me in more ways than I can remember when I was re-plumbing my house, was also leaving. We both leave for work at roughly the same time and frequently see each other in the mornings. I was pulling away from the curb as he was coming out the front door so I backed up to his truck and we chatted for a few minutes.

I recalled that he had an old rear spud toilet tank sitting in the mud in his backyard. I was helping him pull out some bamboo or something one day and I saw it there half buried. I pulled it out of the mud and asked him about it. He said he has several toilets here and there and he installs them here and there when he’s doing work on the side. He held on to that one incase someone might want a high tank installed some day. This was 6 months ago so I wasn’t really thinking about toilets and bathrooms at the time.

Well, this morning I asked him if it was still in the mud in his backyard. He said it was, and I said I’d give him $50 for it. He said I could have it. He didn’t say it casually like, “Sure, you can have it if you want it”. It was more like, You can have it! Please take it and get it out of my yard!” He then said his wife would love it if some of the toilets left the property. He went on to tell me he has all the pipes for it was well.

I insisted I would give him $50 and he insisted he didn’t want the money. I TOLD him I was giving him the money and then I mentioned I was going to the dump on Thursday and asked if he had anything that needed to go. He said, “The toilets yours but you have to make dump runs for a month.” I said, “Fine, and you get $50.” And then I drove off. I’m going to the dump on Thursday so I’ll go and get the toilet and a few bags of garbage while Gary’s at work. I’ll collect the toilet and leave $50 with his wife.

Now I’m thinking what I really want is the marble vanity and the 1897 toilet. You should see this thing. Even if I don’t get it, which I almost assuredly won’t, I’ll have to take pictures of it. The thing is a work of art. Regardless of what I end up with, I have quite a bit to offer. The pièce de résistance is the matching 1922 tank to the toilet my friends already own. Even though they won’t admit how much they really want it, I now they really, really want it.

So what I’m thinking about doing is offering them everything I have for the marble vanity and the 1897 toilet. They will never go for it. The 1897 toilet is too much of a treasure. Regardless, it’s worth a shot. I will essentially be offering 4 complete vintage toilets, 2 vintage tanks, and a vintage sink. I’d take the deal if I were them. Wouldn’t you?



Anonymous said...

The Designs in tile site is back up now.

Greg said...

Good, thanks. Some of their prices on the over-runs aren't too bad. I'll have to get some accurate measurments together.