Valuable Junk

We took a break from the Sunday evening catch-up session at the music store to grab a bite to eat.  As we sat ruminating (both physically and mentally), we decided to turn on the television.  The auction marathon was still running on one of the cable channels, so we watched the high drama of estimating and selling for a few moments.  This highly scripted “reality” television genre continues to multiply, expanding on the “Antiques Roadshow” phenomenon.

We watched as a gentleman carried in a box of items, most of it junk, and then drew out a pendant, which turned out to be a pencil in an artfully designed gold case, complete with diamonds and a ruby worked into the design.  As the story unfolded, appropriately timed and contrived to pique the viewers interest, we learned that it was made by a famous Russian jewelry maker.  At the conclusion of the show (after an annoyingly large number of commercials), the now very desirable bauble sold for something around twelve thousand dollars.  Of course, by this time we are jaded with hearing the stories, the original television series having repeated the pennies-spent to thousands-earned tale many times over.  Nevertheless, I am once more struck by the real story here; the narrative of ignorance and enlightenment.

It doesn’t always work the way the shows tell it.  Many of these treasures are sold and resold numerous times for a pittance, with neither the buyers nor the sellers recognizing the real value.  Frequently, this is because of the utilitarian mindset we have, merely recognizing the use we can gain from the item, but not perceiving the inherent value.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard a flea market patron remark, “Sixty dollars!  I’ve got one of those in the cupboard at home!”  Ultimately, as it turns out, it’s a good thing that most people still have those in their cupboards, since the rareness on the market is what drives up the price, but that’s not really the point.  The principle is that we don’t know the real value of what we have until we are enlightened, either accidentally or by seeking education.

Tower Bridge by Paul Bisson

I’ve told you before that I’m a lover of paintings of bridges.  I’ve even said that I don’t like to have prints on the wall, because I want the original works of art.  That said, I do make exceptions from time to time.  I remember a day, when we were walking through one of the nearby flea markets, listening once again to the astonished remarks from the shoppers.  We took a detour through the art section, not expecting to find anything, but you know, “just in case…”  As we browsed through the awful oils and acrylics, and even a velvet Elvis, the Lovely Lady picked up a pretty little print of the Tower Bridge in London, England and showed it to me.  “It’s a print,” I remarked, disdainfully.  “I like it, though.  It’s only fifteen dollars,” came the reply.  We bought it.  I secretly figured we could always hang it up in the guest bedroom, where I wouldn’t ever have to look at it.

Even though I didn’t care anything about it, when we got home, we examined the print a little closer and found that it was signed by the artist.  It also gave evidence of being hand-colored, a fact corroborated by the label, also signed by the artist, which we found under the paper on the back.  I did some research on this artist, finding that he is a very well-known English painter, with his prints demanding fairly high market prices.  The newer, more common ones regular sell for hundreds of dollars, with potential for his older, rarer prints to bring many times that.  My opinion of the little print is somewhat changed.  What a beautiful piece of art!  Have I told you how much I love prints?  

Wow!  Isn’t it amazing how a little illumination in the darkness gives a different perspective?   I will tell you honestly that I wasn’t raised to be open-minded.  Mine was a black-and-white environment, with decisions made and matters closed.  In the strange movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”, when the estranged wife of the protagonist, Everett says, “I’ve said my piece and counted to ten,” I see myself.  I’ve spent most of my life stubborn and intractable, telling all the world that I know I’m right and no one can prove differently.  I’m happy to say that the older I get, the more often I see the light bulb of new information lighting up the room.  I’ve changed my stance on quite a few subjects, although some have also been reinforced again and again, so they’ll not be changing.  My faith, in spite of a few relevant questions on occasion, remains firm and I’m content for it to be so.  Some things just aren’t open for revision.  But the peripherals, the non-essentials?  Talk to me about them.  There’s room for new ideas. 

I’m fairly sure you’ll never make me like Picasso, but give it a shot.  They do say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder…

“Remember that the most valuable antiques are dear old friends.”
(H. Jackson Browne Jr.~American author)

“A great many open minds should be closed for repairs.”
(quote from The Toledo Blade)

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