hand lady.

I haven't been to many yard sales since the baby was born, just because doing anything with an infant is an added level of hassle. I've taken her to a couple of larger church sales, bouncing up and down the aisles while being occasionally stopped so people can tell me how cute she is.

There was an estate sale going on a couple weeks ago, in the form of an online auction. No one cares if your baby cries at an online auction. I looked through the listings and found some lots that were interesting. There were several listings that said things like "everything in kitchen cabinets" or "contents of dresser" with blurry pictures of the items. The auction had been going on a couple of weeks and had a few days left to go, but there were many lots that were at $.25. I like grab bag type purchases. It's fun to look through and see what you've won. So I bid a dollar on the contents of some cabinets and a dresser that looked like it could contain stationery. It seemed like every cabinet, closet, and shelf had a box or two of ZipLock bags on it. These people were really into storage, I guess. There was also a really nice clock that was up to some ridiculous price, and a couple of interesting furniture pieces.

And then there was a porcelain hand.

There was no information, just three pictures and a title: "Porcelain Hand." Maybe some kind of old prosthetic? At the time, the hand was going for a quarter. And again, I thought, hey, I'd pay a quarter for that. I'd pay three whole dollars for that, whatever it is. I tried googling variations of "porcelain hand," but didn't find anything helpful.

The days wore on, and as the end date got closer, there was more activity on the auction. Someone outbid me on a couple of the lots, and I rebid on a couple of them. I let the dresser that may or may not have stationery in it go. I went up to $3 on a cabinet that had various kitchen things, figuring that I'd make it back on the three boxes of ZipLock bags alone.

At first, I thought having the sale as an auction was a stupid idea, as it seemed like a lot of things were going for way less than you could get if you just had a traditional sale. I guess you save the time and trouble of setting everything up or doing research to price things. Instead, you can just walk around the house, open a cabinet, and take a crappy picture of it.

But as the end got closer, I began to see the genius of the auction. When you go to a sale, it's easy to look at an item, for example, a porcelain hand, and decide whether you want to pay what they are asking. So you can admire the porcelain hand, think how it's kinda neat, wonder what on earth it's for. Then you look at the price tag, put it down carefully, and walk away. With an auction, you go, I'll pay $3 for that, because the price is at a quarter. And then someone else says they'll pay $5 dollars for it, and you have to decide if you'll pay as much as $8 for it.

And then you get to the end, and all of a sudden you've paid $15 for a porcelain hand. When really, I should've just put in my top price at the beginning and then not looked at it again. I should've had the hard conversation with myself of how much I was willing to pay for a porcelain hand, rather than progressive conversations that sounded like, "Well, $8 isn't that much for...whatever this thing is," or "You know, I've paid $15 for a case of beer, which lasted a couple of days, while this porcelain hand can be passed down to my heirs."

After the auction, the winners were to show up at a house in Chapel Hill to pick up their prizes. Had it been a regular estate sale, they probably would've staged this house to showcase all the items, but it looked half ransacked. I felt embarrassed to walk in and say, "Hi, I'm the hand lady." But I'm sure these people get all kinds of weirdos buying all kinds of weirdo gear, so they didn't blink when I told them that I was here for my hand.

So, I have this thing now.
I do know what it is. There are patent numbers on the side, which revealed that it is a glove mold. It was hooked to a machine, probably with a whole row of hands, and dipped into rubber. Once I figured out the right search terms, I was able to find all kind of crazy internet people who collect these things. You can get one off eBay in your choice of size and style.

I was visiting a friend a few days after picking up my hand, and I happened to see a hand on her dresser, holding her necklaces. I'm sure I had seen it before, but recent events had made me very interested in hands. I picked it up and noticed the word "MEDIUM" on the bottom. "This is a glove mold!" I nearly shouted. I felt redeemed, since my friend is a cool person with cool stuff. Apparently, her mother had come across some kind of glove factory liquidation sale and bought a half dozen to give to everyone she knew. SEE? HEIRLOOMS!
I think I'll stay away from the online auctions for a while.

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