1751. It was at that moment that Proctor Cronk became a collector of works of art. It was not the usual setting for such a decision, one would rather expect it to happen in a museum, or at least in an art gallery, but it happened in a tar paper shack in a salvage yard.
1752. As so often happens, his first purchase had all of the characteristics of his later collecting life even down to the methods he used to get the object he was after. He was not entirely honest in his methods, but at least what he said was more believable than the Yardman’s claims of grandfathers with sepia photographs of the Coliseum.
1753. At first Proctor only wanted to repair his slightly damaged ego, by showing the Yardman that, although he might be able to diagnose a car problem from a distance, he did not know anything about art or its values. He intended to do this based on the assumption that the man did not know that the Russian icons were valuable. This was an easy mistake for him to make, seeing as he judged the man’s office space by conventional ideas about interior decoration.
1754. “Would you be willing to sell me this print of the “Madonna and Child,” you have here in the black frame?” Proctor inquired. He was referring to one of those sepia reproductions from an old Catholic calendar. The yardman said he would sell it for five dollars. “And what about this print of the Andrea Doria in the frame with the broken glass?” He asked. “Both for ten dollars if you want them but they are not really very good reproductions if you ask me.”