Antique shops exert a peculiar fascination on a great many people. The more expensive kind of antique shop where rare objects are beautifully displayed in glass cases to keep them free from dust is usually a forbidding place. But no one has to muster up courage to enter a less pretentious antique shop. There is always hope that in its labyrinth of musty, dark, disordered rooms a real rarity will be found amongst the piles of assorted junk that litter the floors.
No one discovers a rarity by chance. A truly dedicated searcher for art treasures must have patience, and above all, the ability to recognize the worth of something when he sees it. To do
this, he must be at least as knowledgeable as the dealer. Like a scientist bent on making a discovery, he must cherish the hope that one day he will be amply rewarded.
My old friend, Frank Halliday, is just such a person. He has often described to me how he
picked up a masterpiece for a mere $5. One Saturday morning, Frank visited an antique shop in
my neighbourhood. As he had never been there before, he found a great deal to interest him. The
morning passed rapidly and Frank was about to leave when he noticed a large packing-case lying
on the floor. The dealer told him that it had just come in, but that he could not be bothered to
open it. Frank begged him to do so and the dealer reluctantly prised it open. The contents were
disappointing. Apart from an interesting-looking carved dagger, the box was full of crockery, much of it broken. Frank gently lifted the crockery out of the box and suddenly noticed a miniature Painting at the bottom of the packing-case. As its composition and line reminded him of an Italian painting he knew well, he decided to buy it. Glancing at it briefly, the dealer told him that it was worth $5. Frank could hardly conceal his excitement, for he knew that he had made a
real discovery. The tiny painting proved to be an unknown masterpiece by Correggio and was
worth thousands of pounds.
古玩店对许多人来说有一种特殊的魅力。高档一点的古玩店为了防尘，把文物漂亮地陈列在玻璃柜子 里，那里往往令人望而却步。而对不太装腔作势的古玩店，无论是谁都不用壮着胆子才敢往里进。人们还 常常有希望在发霉、阴暗、杂乱无章、迷宫般的店堂里，从杂乱地摆放在地面上的、一堆堆各式各样的破 烂货里找到一件稀世珍品。
无论是谁都不会一下子就发现一件珍品。一个到处找便宜的人必须具有耐心，而且最重要的是看到珍 品时要有鉴别珍品的能力。要做到这一点，他至少要像古董商一样懂行。他必须像一个专心致志进行探索 的科学家那样抱有这样的希望，即终有一天，他的努力会取得丰硕的成果。
我的老朋友弗兰克 .哈利戴正是这样一个人。他多次向我详细讲他如何只花 50 英镑便买到一位名家的 杰作。一个星期六的上午，弗兰克去了我家附近的一家古玩店。由于他从未去过那儿，结果他发现许多有 趣的东西。上午很快过去了，弗兰克正准备离去，突然看见地板上放着一只体积很大的货箱。古董商告诉 他那只货箱刚到不久，但他嫌麻烦不想把它打开。经弗兰克恳求，古董商才勉强把货箱撬开了。箱内东西 令人失望。除了一柄式样别致、雕有花纹的匕首外，货箱内装满陶器，而且大部分都已破碎裂。弗兰克轻 轻地把陶器拿出箱子， 突然发现在箱底有一幅微型画， 画面构图与纸条使他想起一幅他所熟悉的意大利画， 于是他决定将画买了下来。古董商漫不经心看了一眼那幅画，告诉弗兰克那画值 50 英镑。弗兰克几乎无 法掩饰自己兴奋的心情，因为他明白自己发现了一件珍品。那幅不大的画原来是柯勒乔的一幅未被发现的 杰作，价值几十万英镑。