Introduction: my son and I have recently become addicted to the series “Pawn Stars” on the History Channel. It’s quite an entertaining series, but if I ran the world, it would go something more like this:.
An elderly woman walks into the pawn shop carrying an old wooden box.
“So, whatcha got in the box?”
“Perhaps it’s best I show you.”
The box opens, accompanied by a glowing light of purest white and the sounds of a host of Heavenly Cherubim.
“That’s pretty impressive. What is it?”
The old lady removes an ancient cup and holds it up.
“This is the Holy Grail.”
“The Holy Grail, huh? Where did you get it?”
“Well, you see, that’s a bit of a story. I have an ill granddaughter, little Angelica. She needs an operation to save her life, but it will cost $5,000 and we don’t have that kind of money. So I prayed to the Lord and asked for his help. Later that night, a shaft of light entered my room. An Angel of the Lord appeared before me and said that as a reward for the purity and sincerity of my faith, he would present me with the Holy Grail. The angel told me it is valuable beyond human imagining. But I’m not interested in worldly wealth. I only want my precious Angelica to get better. If you could give me $5,000 in exchange for the Grail, I will be able to pay for her surgery and would consider myself blessed beyond words.”
“What kind of angel was it?”
“What KIND? I don’t know. He just looked like an angel. Wings, halo, unbelievable heavenly beauty. All that.”
“But it was just a regular angel, though. Not an Archangel.”
“I guess not. I don’t really know.”
“Well, you see, that’s going to hurt the value. If you could tie this thing to, say, an Archangel, maybe Gabriel or Michael, that would really help in the collector’s market. A certificate of authenticity would be nice as well.”
“Of course there are specialty collectors who might pay a premium for items related to specific well-known angels. If, say, Moroni would have given it to you, and you could demonstrate its provenance, a collector of Mormon memorabilia might pay more for it. But just a regular angel with no name… it’s just not worth as much. And not only that, until I know this Holy Grail is genuine, I can’t really make an offer. Tell you what, I know a guy who’s an expert on Biblical antiquities. I’ll have him take a look at it. Would that work for you?”
“Well, I suppose so. Can he get here quickly? I really don’t know how much time Angelica has left.”
Suddenly, the interior of the Pawn Shop darkens. A crash of thunder shakes the building.
“THERE WILL BE NO NEED FOR THAT!.” says a huge, ominous disembodied voice.
“Who said that?”
“I AM THAT I AM! THE LORD GOD OF HOSTS! I AM THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, THE GOD OF ISAAC! THE GOD OF JOSEPH! I LED THE ISRAELITES OUT OF THEIR BONDAGE IN EGYPT AND DROWNED THE PHARAOH’S ARMIES IN THE RED SEA! I TESTIFY BY MY HOLY NAME THAT THE OBJECT THIS WOMAN BRINGS YOU IS INDEED THE MOST SACRED AND HOLY GRAIL, USED BY MY BELOVED SON AT THE LAST SUPPER BEFORE HE WILLINGLY GAVE HIS LIFE FOR THE SALVATION OF ALL MANKIND! IT IS PRECIOUS BEYOND ALL MEASURE!!! I HAVE SPOKEN!”
Another terrible crash of thunder shakes the building; knocking a framed Liberace autographed gold record off the wall. The darkness lifts.
“Hey, Mr. I-Am-Sam or whatever your name is, you owe me for that gold record!”
“Not to be impatient, Mr. Pawn Shop Owner, sir. But would you consider that proof enough?”
“Okay, supposing it IS the genuine Holy Grail. I’m not sure I could find a buyer for it in today’s market. Christian holy relics don’t sell like they used to. Back in King Arthur’s time, they’d have given all they had for this Grail thing. Heck, if this was the 13th century, I could probably get half a feudal kingdom for it, but now? The market just isn’t what it once was.”
“What can you give me for it?”
“Ummm… I’ll give you a hundred bucks.”
“A hundred bucks??? But this is the Holy Grail! You just heard God say so personally!”
“How ‘bout one-fifty?”
“Look, even if you don’t care about it being the Holy Grail just look at the cup itself! It’s made of gold and silver and is encrusted with precious jewels! Look at the fine craftsmanship! Certainly that alone should be worth at least $5,000!”
“Naw, in today’s economy there’s not really a market for gold, silver and precious jewels. Besides, it’s pretty beat to hell.”
“Of COURSE it’s beat to hell, it’s 2,000 years old!
“One-seventy-five. Final offer.”.
”Poor Angelica. One seventy five won’t be enough to help her.”
“Well, sorry I couldn’t do business with you.”
“So am I.”
The old lady sighs as she takes the Holy Grail and places it into the box she had brought it in.
“Hey, that’s an interesting box. Where’d you get it?”
“Oh, this? It was just an old box I had in the garage. After the angel gave me the Grail I figured I should box it up to protect it a bit. My great grandfather used to work for Coca-Cola in the early 1900’s. This is one of their old shipping boxes.”
“Really? Those are highly collectible! In fact, this appears to be a rare Coca-Cola shipping carton that was used only in Vermont for a few months during 1907. It’s a collector’s dream! And you usually don’t see them in this fine a condition!”
“Really? It’s been just sitting around the house for ages. I never really thought anything about it.”
“I’ll tell you what; I’ll buy the Grail for $3,500 if you include the box.”
“But the surgery costs $5,000. Think of poor Angelica!”
“Think of the fact that I have to make a profit! Okay, $4,000.”
“Well, I suppose I could sell my car for the other $1,000. Okay, for Angelica, I’ll do it!”
The pawn shop guy pays the old lady $4,000 in crisp one hundred dollar bills. She leaves.
“Hey, Chumley! Put this Coke box on the display shelf!”
“Sure. Say, there’s an old cup inside it, What do you want me to do with it?”
“Uh… just put it on my desk. I can use it to hold paper clips.”