Chapter 18 – Antique Market

The antique market in the East City was not quite similar to the commercial antique street that was full of shops with lots of genuine goods and often sold in a large transaction.

On the other hand, the antique market was dominated by leftover which was acquired from the countryside, mixed with some modern craft imitations.
It could be described as a mixture of real and fake goods but this was also the best place to practice their judgement and collector’s skills.
Thus, many people were still willing to shop around here.

As soon as the four of them entered the market, a stall owner recognized Xia Shao and greeted her warmly with a wave: “Yo! Xiao Xia, you’re here again?”

“Xiao Xia, come come come, have a look at the newly received goods over here?”

“Hey, isn’t this Professor Zhou’s nephew? Why are you here with Xiao Xia? Do you know each other?”

“Uncle Wu, we’re classmates.” Pang Dun scratched his head and explained.

“Yo! You guys are classmates, huh? Oops, this is really…… for so many years, I didn’t even know that the two youngest collectors in the market were actually classmates.
I’m really bad at judging…….” Wu ShuHai replied jokingly.

Over the years, because of Professor Zhou’s love of collecting, Pang Dun had followed him a few trips to the antique market.
Over time, he had become acquainted with some of the stall owners in the market.

At first, none of Xia Shao’s friends know the fact that she visited the antique market so often.
It was two years ago when Liu CuiCui, Du Ping, and some other classmates came to the antique market for a stroll and happened to meet Xia Shao, so that was how they came to know she visited here often.

Later on, this was also known to Pang Dun, but the three only thought that she was under the influence of Professor Zhou and shopped for fun.
They didn’t think that she would actually pick up some real deal, after all, finding a treasure among the fakes really depends on one’s judgement.

With this kind of judgement, Liu CuiCui and Du Ping admitted that they didn’t have such skills.
Whereas Pang Dun, under the influence of Professor Zhou, had some knowledge of appraising antiques but his experience and judgement were undoubtedly still very shallow.
Even if Xia Shao and Pang Dun had learned from Professor Zhou, they were probably similar in terms of judgement skills.

Five years ago, Professor Zhou picked up a Duan inkstone from the Qianlong period of the Qing Dynasty, which cost a hundred yuan at first but now if it were to put up for auction, the base price would be at least 30,000 yuan according to market value.
Moreover, with auctioning, the price would basically be over 100,000 yuan and if they met a collector who loves Duan inkstone, the price could go even higher!

When the stall owner who had sold the treasure Duan inkstone learned about its authenticity, he pounded his chest with great regret but there was nothing he could do about it.

Antique was a very special industry and it was all about one’s judgement.
In this business, there was no such thing as fraud and there was no refund either.
Buying and selling antiques was a contest between two sides in the field of knowledge, perhaps the seller sold a leak, or perhaps the buyer brought fake or wrong items.
It could only be summed up as their own lesson and no one to be blamed.
Therefore, the general public dare not get too involved in the antique industry and the difficulty lies in the authenticity.

Nevertheless, that was also the charm of this business.

The four of them came over to Wu’s stall.
To Liu CuiCui and Du Ping, those ancient jades, porcelains, bronze coins, calligraphy, and paintings were placed together randomly, making everything seem like a real thing through its mysterious ancient charm.

“Come on, little students, check these out, they are all old objects collected from the countryside.
You might be able to pick up some treasure!” Owner Wu smiled and gestured to the left corner of the area, indicating Xia Shao and the rest to take a look at the objects displayed.

Xia Shao smiled faintly at the sight and just glanced around silently.

Wu ShuHai couldn’t help but sigh once he saw this expression on Xia Shao’s face.
Over the past five years, he had learned something about Xia Shao’s temperament, so whenever she smiled like this, it means that she would not buy anything today.

He also found it strange how she was so young yet her smile always gave him a sense of superiority, as if she could read his mind and the collection on the stall with just a glance.

If Xia Shao knew what Wu ShuHai was thinking at this time, she would probably have praised him for his keen intuition.
In fact, there were genuine items in his stall, but they were not in the area where Wu ShuHai had pointed out to them.

These antique peddlers were naturally not stupid, they will first identify the objects they collected from the countryside.
If there were some that they had concluded were genuine, who would place it with the fakes one to lower the value of their items? Those that were genuine were often traded privately, and the prices were kept secret.
The rest of the objects that were new or unpredictable were classified in a different category, and it was usually these items that outsiders had their hands on.

Although Xia Shao and Pang Dun weren’t considered amateurs nowadays, they were both still a student from ordinary families.
Frankly speaking, they had not much spare money.
They could not afford to buy anything that looked genuine to them.

In this business of antiques, there had always been a market in the market, and prices vary with different people.
When they opened for business, what they wanted was profit.
Since Wu ShuHai knew that they were poor students and could not afford to purchase the authentic pieces, he naturally wanted them to pick from the cheap pile.
Those items weren’t worth much but selling one would have paid for the meal today.

Xia Shao didn’t even touch those items and just smiled after she took a glance at them.
She already knew that there were no genuine pieces in that pile but Pang Dun squatted down and checked out a few items before he eventually stood up and said: “Uncle Wu, we’ll take a look somewhere else.”

“What, you don’t like what you see? Come on, take a look again.
You’re on summer vacation, right? It’s a good idea to buy something for fun, isn’t it?” Although there was no rule of forced buying in any business, Wu ShuHai naturally had to make a last-ditch effort to pay for his meal today.

Pang Du, who had never been able to say no to anyone, scratched his head in awkwardness when he heard the stall owner’s offer to stay.

Xia Shao smiled lightly and excused them: “Uncle Wu, we’ll go for a stroll and we might come back later then.”

This excuse made Wu ShuHai unable to rebut and he could only smile as he watched the four of them go somewhere else.

After looking at a dozen stalls in a row, they couldn’t find anything to buy.
Instead, Liu CuiCui spotted a jade bracelet on one of the stalls.
The bracelet looked like old jade and had a string attached to it.

Liu CuiCui seemed to like the jade bracelet a lot, so she picked it up and wore it on her wrist while admiring it: “ShaoZi, come and look, am I pretty with this bracelet?”

Although Xia Shao had the power of Divine Eyes, she had learned a lot from professor Zhou and the other stall owners and collectors in the market over the years.
Therefore, even without using the Divine Eyes, she knew that her bracelet was a C-graded, acid-washed, and doctored to make it look aged.

However, before Xia Shao could speak out her thoughts, Liu CuiCui asked: “Hey Boss, why is there a string hanging from this jade bracelet? Can I take the string off and take a better look? Also, how much do you sell for this jade bracelet?”

As soon as the moment Liu CuiCui wore the jade bracelet, the stall owner immediately knew she was an amateur.

When an insider checked out the jade, there was always a matching string attached to it.
They would first wear the string on their wrist before placing the jade on their palm for viewing.
Liu CuiCui didn’t even care and wore it directly on her wrist, and she actually wanted to untie that string.
Of course, in Xia Shao’s opinion, the string tied to it was purely a fool’s errand, the jade was not a good quality jade at all.

“Pfft!” Pang Dun stifled a laugh at the side and kept quiet.

Du Ping gave him a strange look and asked in a whisper: “What’s wrong? Is there something wrong with that bracelet?”

Pang Dun shook his head and whispered: “Regardless of whether if there’s any problem, Sister CuiCui won’t even buy it.”

At this moment, the stall owner purposely stretched out five fingers, Liu CuiCui was confused at first glance and asked: “What does that mean?”

Xia Shao whispered the price in her ear, and Liu CuiCui’s eyes widened: “Huh? Five hundred yuan? Damn, it’s almost three months of my living expenses in school.”

In 1997, although the economy was getting better than the previous years and wages had risen considerably.
Yet most ordinary families were still very strict about their children’s living expenses.
Liu CuiCui had a younger brother at home, and her parents rely on farming to make a living.
Thus, they were very strict about her living expenses when she goes to school in the city, which was only a hundred or so yuan per month so the bracelet was out of her league at this time.

“Forget it then!”Liu CuiCui took the bracelet off as fast as possible.
Although she liked it a lot, she was still quite straightforward.
Since she couldn’t afford it, she didn’t give any other excuses and just carefully placed the bracelet back into its original place instantly.

Although Xia Shao had expected such an outcome, when she saw Liu CuiCui carefully placing the jade bracelet back to its original position, Xia Shao couldn’t help and felt saddened.
She lowered her gaze and then smile before promising: “Sister CuiCui if you like the jade bracelet, next time I’ll find a better one for you.”

She smiled so calmly as if she was very serious and determined about it.

Liu CuiCui was stunned and then chuckled: “Good! With your promises, I didn’t dote you for nothing!”

Naturally, she thought Xia Shao was just comforting her, but even if it was just some comforting promises, she was still felt touched.

“Let’s go, let’s shop around elsewhere.” Liu CuiCui pulled Xia Shao with her, her regret at not purchasing the bracelet was gone in a flash.
She dragged Xia Shao over as she headed for the next stall.

After the four walked away, the stall owner rolled his eyes: “Bah! Find what better item! Just because they visited a few years in the market and they really believe that they are an expert.
A connoisseur without money is nothing! Even if they spotted a good one, can they even afford it? Pretentious!”

The stall owner next to him overheard this and laughed: “Old Ma, why are you angry over some students? Nowadays, students don’t even know how to study properly, they only think of nonsense stuff all day long.
If even a student managed to pick up a leak, how can we still be in such business? Forget it, don’t bother too much about them since we don’t rely on them to make a fortune but we still need them to pay for our meals.”

The two stall owners glanced at each other with a smile and said nothing more.

Unknown to them, the four of them had already shopped past four or five more stalls when suddenly, Xia Shao stopped in her tracks and glanced at a stall in front of her.

On that stall, in a pile of dishes stacked on top of each other, a large blue and white plate emits a faint aura of old antiquity……

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