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Grandmother’s Grand Bowl

Grandmother’s Grand Bowl


Maybe this has happened to you, too. You walk into a charming shop and something catches your eye and it instantly captivates you. You feel a sudden rush of excitement or desire that prompts you to want to acquire the item immediately. That is what happened to me.

My friend Dennis Brando introduced me to an upscale gift boutique in Laguna Beach, California that specialized in items like fine china, brilliant crystal, and luxurious gifts. Dennis was personal friends with the boutique’s co-owner.

“Blurting out “Oh my God! I have to have it” was a dead giveaway that they would be making a sale.”

This unique shop then located on the prominent corner of Forest Avenue and Glenmeyer Street had a way of displaying their elegant, eye-catching merchandise that caused shoppers to freeze in place. This is exactly what happened to me when I saw the Lalique Champs-Élysées Grand Bowl on the entrance table with a high-powered spotlight showcasing its stunning beauty. Blurting out “Oh my God! I have to have it” was a dead giveaway that they would be making a sale.

Lalique Champs-Élysées Grand Bowl

The year was 1975, and the Grand Bowl price was just under $800 at that shop. Now for a millionaire, that price might not have been too much but for me being recently divorced and supporting my two young children, I should have quickly turned around and walked out of that shop. But, I didn’t.

Dennis saw how much I loved this finely engraved crystal bowl (designed by Marc Lalique in 1951) and he also knew that my salary as an assistant store manager in Newport Beach wasn’t even close to being a millionaire. He gently approached up to me and whispered in my ear, “Let me see what I can do.”

After a discussion with the owner, Dennis returned grinning from ear to ear. Pulling me aside, away from customers he whispered, “They’ll sell it to you at the employee discount and let you make lay-a-way payments at no interest.”

Wait, what?! Could this be for real? Yes, it was. They sold the Grand Bowl to me for $495 and I made five payments of $100.

This ultimate symbol of French luxury now graces my home. Carefully packing the bowl with each move over the last 49 years, represents one of many treasured items and experiences that are possible if one just dares to ask the right questions.

“I brought him into the dining room to show the Valentine tablescape where the Grand Bowl was the centerpiece.”

Often my 15-year-old granddaughter joins me for weekend sleepovers. Sometimes we take a few minutes to talk about mementos and books in my home. I enjoy showing her treasures around my home and how each item has its own story. We also discuss who wants what and we make sure items are noted for each intended recipient after I’ve gone.

I shared with her the story about how my friend helped me to purchase the Grand Bowl at such a remarkable price. Then we went online to find how much the bowl is selling for now. In our search, we did not find too many of them available for purchase. However, at Geary’s in Beverly Hills, the price listed is now $11,600. Little did I know back in 1975 that the Lalique Champs-Élysées Grand Bowl would be appreciated that much!

When my son-in-law came to pick her up, I brought him into the dining room to show the Valentine tablescape where the Grand Bowl was the centerpiece. 

With considerable amusement, I enjoyed listening to my granddaughter (who normally doesn’t say much) telling her dad the story of the bowl and how much I paid for it. And then, at her highest pitch, she yelled that it was now worth $100,000! After tenderly reminding her that the price was $11,000 and not $100,000, we all laughed.  But who knows, maybe in a few more decades (as it sits in one of my heir’s homes) it will be $100,000 and they can tell the story of the Grand Bowl and their wild grandmother.

Read more from Pat Burns here.

Pat Burns

About the author

Pat Burns is the co-founder of the Orange County Children's Book Festival, a celebrity journalist, film reviewer and a consultant for nonprofits

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