August 7, 2010—We’ve been doing some deep house cleaning and I keep running across things that just don’t make sense to keep. Either they’ve been in boxes for decades or haven’t been used in well over a year. Some things are simply mystery items.

Take the case of our little cloisonné box—it was gift from a relative a long time ago. We only see it from time to time—when we move things around or move from one place to another. It’s been housed in a carton with other whatnots for decades.

I decided to do a bit of research on the little 3-inch round box. I approached is as if I were working on a copywriting project for a product I knew little about and a project that came with no creative brief. It was a fascinating and educational few hours of research.

The cloisonné box is apparently Russian, from the very early 20th-century, and it has a portrait of Dobrynya Nikitich on the hinged lid. (Nikitich was the second most popular of the Bogatyrs, you know.)

Russian Cloisonne Box, bottom

Russian Cloisonne Box, bottom

The back is intricate and not-so-clearly hallmarked in three places. The inside of the lid is marked in three places, also. I knew nothing about Russian silver hallmarks, but I learned. I learned a lot. Again, fascinating.

Now, what to do with the little box? It seemed there might be a market for it.

But, I didn’t think the market would be very strong in Baltimore and it didn’t seem to be a Craig’s List type of item…

Until the current house cleaning I’d only purchased a few things from eBay. I’d never sold there. I created my seller account—another learning experience—and I listed the box.

It’s getting a couple of bids from the people who list their address as “Russian Federation.” And, I’ve learned that, yes, I can ship there and, after speaking with the folks at FedEx, I now know how.

The first bid is in at $400—the whole project has been fun and you can tag me as a lifelong-learner.

UPDATE 9/7/2010—Well, this research and writing project turned out nicely! By way of actively promoting the auction on Twitter and on my blog—and after a frenzy of 11th hour bidding our little Russian Box sold on eBay for (take a deep breath) $14,101.

Kudos to my partner, Jacob, for locating the original painting of Nikitich that was used as the portrait on the lid of the box. That seemed to make a big difference in the sale price. And, I didn’t have to ship internationally after all. The buyer lives in Port Jefferson, New York.