Putting the Spark Back in Your Relationship

No marital advice from me, at least not this week.

I’m talking about the relationship you have with your collection.

Mine seems to have gone stale these past few months, derailed, as most invariably are at times, by family matters, work deadlines, house projects and social commitments.

Might as well blame some of it on the heat, too.

Every collector goes through predictable stages in their collecting relationship, from being blindsided (and sometimes blinded) by love, to struggling to learn everything there is to know about the object of your desire, to finally settling into a comfortable relationship.

But therein lies the danger.


Comfort breeds contentment, and contentment breeds stagnation.

Lack of emotion. Missing excitement. Boring.

This wasn’t the first time it has happened to me, nor is this the first time I have written about it. But this time I really needed to take some of my own advice.

So, rather than casually flipping through Brunk Auctions’ most recent catalog, I read it closely and found Lot 356: “Four Pieces of Arts and Crafts Copper.” A Dirk van Erp vase, a small Gustav Stickley ashtray, a Robert Jarvie bowl and a Heintz vase. All small, but all very cute, all signed and each in very good condition. Estimate $600-$800 for all four.

But rather than faxing in a left bid, we went to the preview, saw the pieces, chatted with several friends, made plans for a late dinner together, discussed how much we were willing to spend, wrote and re-wrote our bid, then finally dashed off to dinner, where our hastily arranged group, fueled by some fine California wines and willing to argue the value of any piece in the preview, managed to offend anyone around us hoping for a nice, quiet meal.

As it turned out, the following day we were outbid for the four pieces of hammered copper, but, despite an initial disappointment, I felt refreshed. Yesterday a friend called with a lead on a piece of 1930s Sunset Mountain Pottery, a late North Carolina entry into the Arts and Crafts field. It was a pottery I had always liked because of its Asheville connection, but never owned an example. A similar debate ensued, we left a bid, but again fell short. None the less, the spark was struck.

Today I turned the tables and decided to relive — or revive — a similar feeling when, years ago, I often consigned to auction those pieces I could not afford to keep. Remember those times? When you had to “Sell the rest to keep the best?” As difficult as it had been to part with anything back then, there was an excitement in the weeks, days and hours leading up to the auction that nothing else could duplicate.

And so I pulled from my collection a piece I had once coveted, but had not even seen outside my storage room in years. I dusted it off, took pictures and measurements, wrote up a description, compiled the brief history behind it, negotiated terms with the auction house, and sent it off.

I marked the date on my calendar — and I can already feel the anticipation building.

The spark is back.

Next week I might even go to a yard sale…..

Until next Monday,

Have a great week!


“Heaven is as much under our feet as over our heads.” — Henry David Thoreau

For more information on Sunset Mountain Pottery, see this week’s Collector’s Guide.