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Rich, Pretty or Useful

03/14/2016

I buried someone in my backyard one day. I found ashes in a beautiful German Arts and Crafts Brass container that I wanted to polish and display. It was a small amount of ash and could not have been more than the remains of a cat or a tiny portion of a person. I had a respectful and solemn moment as I dispersed the ashes, then got back to the business of regarding the container. The brass container was so beautiful and didn’t look like a funerary urn to me, but was it? Was it meant as a purposeful object as opposed to being a pretty container? The brass vessel had made a journey to get to me, and someone thought it worthy to hold the remains, however few, of someone in their life. The journey itself interested me greatly too.

 

This experience begs the questions that have been on my mind ever since I inherited my family’s collection: What journey did this piece take on it’s way to me? Who conceived of this item? Why did they make it? Was it born in the mind and shaped from the hands of a person whose creativity was that constant background voice – always urging them on, like a whisper: “create me, mold me, make me beautiful…”?

Or did someone make the item because they needed it to perform a task, thinking: “I sure could use something to measure flour with”? Perhaps the goal was neither beauty nor utility. Maybe the goal was to make money so that making an object beautiful was just the means to an end to attract purchasers; or the item was solely constructed to fit a need – so well suited to a task that it would create urgency in the buying public and be widely distributed, to hopefully make the creator rich.

 

I’ve had a saying, for a long time now, jaded as it is, that men put women into three basic categories: Rich, Pretty or Useful. Life has now given me more reasons to reflect upon my assumptive belief regarding men’s views towards women. I am certainly no expert on the minds of men – perhaps I can even claim singular ineptitude in this area. However, I now find myself categorizing all things in the decorative arts/antique/vintage category in that very same way. Is it pretty – do I love it for its beauty?; will it’s beauty bring me pleasure or enhance my life? Is it useful – do I need it for a purpose (even if that purpose is just putting my feet on it while I watch TV)? Is it valuable – do I want to buy it and/or keep it as an investment or do I want to monetize it – could it make me rich?

 

Marrying these interests: the link between reason and emotion in an objects conception, creation and distribution; that object’s journey to the present day; and it’s current value to a collector based on the “rich, pretty or useful” criteria I outlined in the previous paragraph became a passion of mine. Passion tends to be the basis of human creation – be it a baby or otherwise. My passion gave birth to this website and small business. I hope others will enjoy my unique and personal approach to art, antique and vintage items.

 

 

 

 

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