Paulus picked them up to examine them. Naturally, these would not be the finest of the man's acquisitions - he would have kept those for his own wife and relations - but they were of good quality workmanship, with a nice weight to them, and would find a ready market - even a couple of dozen would not remain in his inventory for very long. Two dozen women sporting Dacian loot and driving the rest of the female population of Rome wild with envy...
He named a sum. "I could offer that for each of them, or shall we say so much for all of them?" he said, naming a larger sum. "Or goods up to that value, if you wished to exchange instead - please, feel free to have a look around and see what takes your fancy."
Paulus would be surprised if a man like this hadn't acquired wealth, in whatever form, during campaigns in Dacia and other faraway places.
"Jewellery in whatever form is a sought-after commodity. Any well-born woman feels less than perfectly dressed without a bracelet or arm-ring to complete her outfit, after all," Paulus said. "I presume you have brought at least a sample or two - I cannot give any sort of valuation without seeing the quality of the pieces in question, after all."
Bracelets, arm-rings, necklaces, earrings - all would find a ready market among the high-born ladies (or their husbands, on behalf of their high-born wives), even if Paulus wasn't a jeweller. There had been a craze a while back for Egyptian pieces - the mystique of the Pharaohs lingered, even though everyone sucked their teeth at the mention of Cleopatra and how she had led two Roman generals astray. One admittedly further astray than the other. If these were well-made pieces, there might be a new craze for being seen wearing Dacian-made items, and if not... gold was gold and could be melted down and formed into something entirely more Roman and therefore tasteful.
"Are you buying, or selling?" Paulus asked. The man before him could be here for either, of course, but somehow Paulus thought that he was more likely to be selling. He had the look of a soldier about him, the upright bearing, direct look and refusal to beat about the bush. The latter was most appealing; Paulus had dealt with enough people who hedged their words and refused to come out and say what they were after.
"Why don't you come into my office, have some refreshment and we can discuss it further in private?" he said. The showroom was open, and while Paulus did keep his most valuable things elsewhere in the place, there was absolutely no need to tempt the Fates - gold jewellery in any form and of any provenance was small, valuable and easily concealed. He had guards, of course, but why tempt the Fates?
"This way - have a seat," he said, leading his way to the screened-off cubicle he called his 'office'. He poured his customer a cup of wine - politeness was everything in his business, after all - and took one for himself. "There is a taste for such things, since the Legions have been campaigning there, and the things the Dacians produce are more refined than the things made by the British, although there are buyers for British-made wares, too." The gods only knew why; Paulus had not seen anything from Britain that could rival the wares made elsewhere in the Empire.
Crispus had been overseeing the arranging of some new stock when a new customer came in. The slave (it was obviously a slave) who addressed him did so in a polite manner, and his clothing and general demeanour all testified to his master's being a man of wealth and taste.
"It is." He caught the eye of one of the skivvies, sending him to the master's office to fetch the master.
Paulus emerged a moment later. He had set aside his pallium because it was easier to work without it, but his tunic was still of good quality, befitting the owner of the place. "Paulus Annius Faventinus at your service. How may I help you?"
Paulus pulled out his tabula to make a note that the lectica was sold. "Do you have slaves to pick it up, or would you prefer it to be delivered?" he asked, the point of his silver stylus hovering over the surface of the wax. "And we don't often get items from as far east as that - they cost a fortune when we do, of course, although a man of your standing can certainly afford it. I will keep any such arrivals aside for you, naturally."
Unless someone from the Imperial household got there first, even more naturally, but they didn't often shop at Paulus' warehouse. "We do have some very fine fabrics from the Indus, cottons and silks - oh, and this."
'This' was a large bronze bowl, beautifully decorated with figures that Paulus assumed must be of the Indian gods and goddesses. He wouldn't have minded the bowl for his own house, but with a customer such as Lucius, only the best would do. That went without saying!
"It is a pretty piece of work, that lectica," Paulus said. "Made for Flavia Lucilla Augusta, I believe - you can see from the fineness of the carving, and the silk of the upholstery, that it is above the usual set of thing. The poles are removable for ease of storage, although anyone who is able to buy such a thing, and have the slaves to carry it, will likely not have issues with somewhere to keep it when it isn't in use."
Paulus looked at his patron, and silently wondered why Lucius Furious Pontius might want a lectica - although he would not complain in the slightest if the man did buy it; it would turn a nice profit and selling it would free up space to display something else.
"You should be careful or you might find me sending you home with a mismatched set of supposedly Samian dishes or an equestrian statue of the Divine Augustus Caesar riding a three-legged horse or something equally ridiculous," Paulus said with a smile. "Let us look around the sale room, then." He led the way.
There were various items of furniture, of course - lecticae and tables, the latter of which held smaller items such as a set of Syrian glassware or a tabula set with board and pieces made from semi-precious stones. Several statues of various levels of execution - most indifferent, some very good indeed and one or two dire. One of the best was a satyr with pan-pipes, and Paulus patted its stone head as he passed it.
"Do say, if you see something you'd like a closer look at," he told his guest.
"Of course." Paulus set his own empty cup aside and stood. "You have been here before, of course, but I don't know whether that was before or after we expanded our premises. The things being sold outright are on this side, anything on the other is for auction, though I suppose a generous offer won't be refused by the current owners. If it's a large item, it's much easier for you to provide the slaves to move it,of course."
He led the way into the main part of the premises. "I shall let you lead the way in looking around, seeing as you haven't been here recently. I don't know what kind of things you are interested in and would hate for you to miss something just because I think you should be interested in something else."
"Well, let us discuss your needs first - I should hate to rush you in enjoying your wine and refreshments," Paulus said, mollified by Lucius' willingness to cover the cots of entertaining his lictors. He was quite willing to give up his afternoon to his patron, who was a pleasant enough man after all. Especially as it had been a while, though that was understandable enough, what with his father's death. "Is there anything in particular that you're after? A new statue for your atrium - we've got some very nice copies of a good statue of Venus that have just come in, and there are others if Venus isn't to your taste. I shall be very happy to show you around our showroom - you might see something you had not thought of, after all."
He liked his friends and acquaintance to have an idea of what they wanted, but equally, he was more than happy for them to browse. It was his experience that people often came across things when 'just browsing' that they'd had no idea they needed when they woke up that morning.
And of course his patron had brought his lictors with him, though Paulus was of the opinion that there was no need for the display, although it was possible that Lucius was on his way to or from some official engagement.
He caught Crispus' eye again, indicating the men. Crispus nodded; he would get them something to drink (Paulus was hopeful that his patron might spend enough to cover the cost, even if he did not do so today) and would ensure they did not break anything.
"Business is indeed going well, people are always changing things about their homes, whether they're getting rid of something or want that one finishing touch for the atrium," Paulus said, taking a sip of his wine. "May I ask whether this is purely a social call, or whether I can help you in my professional capacity?"
If it was the latter, he could get his people to work while the two of them continued to talk. If the former, they could continue with what they had been tasked to do already.