“This Isn’t a Hardware Show, Lady!”

by Marilyn Estenes.
(Vancouver, WA)

"This Isn't a Hardware Show, Lady!" by Marilyn Estenes  - featured on Jewelry Making Journal

A number of years ago my girlfriend and I were starting to make jewelry and attended a large local bead show.

We came across an older gentleman bead vendor who had some vintage and other interesting beads for sale.

I purchased a bag of unusual metallic grey beads that the label on bag identified as “nail heads”.

My friend and I, both being kind of stupid heads at that time, never heard the term “nail heads” for these unusual vintage glass beads.

We thought we had actually purchased real metal nail heads that had been drilled thru the middle. We took the bag to my house to divide up between us.

When I opened the bag and started examining the beads, I thought they were rather lightweight to really be real nail heads and showed them to my husband for his input.

He carefully looked them over, didn’t think they were real either and took one into the garage, put it on the cement floor and bashed it with a hammer. It broke into a bunch of tiny pieces.

He then informed us the guy gypped us as these were not real nail heads, but only glass.

We decided to drive all the way back to the bead show and get our money back.

On the way, we discussed our dilemma.

My friend remarked with a straight face and very seriously that maybe they were really screw heads (I’m laughing as I write this) instead of nail heads!

We got back to the show and approached the vendor demanding our money back for his deception in telling us they were nail heads when my husband hit one on the garage floor with his hammer and broke it to bits.

Taking great efforts to contain himself he said, “Lady, why would I be selling real nail heads? This is a bead show, not a hardware show.”

He then explained briefly the story of these vintage glass beads used as I recall, in the Victorian era and sewn on clothing.

I saw this same vendor a number of years later.

He still recognized me and told me that was the craziest story he had ever encountered and had told his fellow vendors on numerous occasions about the ladies thinking they bought real metal drilled nail heads.

Marilyn Estenes
Silver River Designs

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  • LOL, Marilyn! Thanks for sharing this laugh! 😀 It’s easy to see how the misunderstanding came about – and hopefully the vendor realized he might want to have little signs explaining his vintage items. 🙂

  • susan Whelan says:


  • Dianne says:

    Thanks for the giggle…I agree with Rena on the sign!

  • Nancy Vaughan says:

    LOL. Crazy happenings like this add extra fun to making jewelry and going to shows.

  • Interestingly, the following month a well known bead magazine featured an article about these vintage “nail head” beads. Marilyn E.

  • Colleen says:

    I’m in the UK and haven’t come across these. Where can I see some? I know I may be showing my ignorance. Lol

  • Judith says:

    Thanks for the chuckle. We all started out as “stupid heads”! Love your story, down to the last detail about meeting the same vendor again. 🙂

  • Wendy says:

    Regarding Colleen’s question – JEWELEX. com has a large selection of Swarovski nail head beads.


  • Ha ha ha! ????????????I laughed to tears!!!
    The answer of the vendor was great!
    Thank you for sharing!

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