Running around to “estate” sales is a hit or miss operation, usually miss. I was happy when one day I came across a sale featuring a basement and garage full of NOS (new old stock) mid-century doodads the deceased owner imported from Japan and Scandinavia in the 1970s.
Lots of Aalto-ish legs and a few tops for stools and small tables, beautiful trays from Sweden, wooden spice containers with cork stoppers, shelves full of chunky, brightly colored iron candle holders and frogs, and boxes of these wonderful fish mobiles. Nine inches or so from stem to stern, each mobile lies in a folded piece of thin cardboard tucked into a paper sleeve. This outer package has no label or markings other than JAPAN stamped in small caps in dark purple ink.
The main body of the fish was red, light blue or gold, with the remaining two colors being the accents. The fish came all mixed in the box, with no way of knowing the color until you slid it out of the paper sleeve and peered into the folded cardboard.
Having a shop at the time called The Iron Fish Trading Co, I bought several boxes of the fish. (Don’t ask me why I didn’t root around and buy every last one.) I sold them for $12 a piece. If you were willing to forgo a choice of color and be surprised at whatever the plain wrapper held in store, you paid $8.