My trip to Philadelphia for the annual convention of the American Art Pottery Association is still fresh in my mind a week later. If you saw my column last week, you know that I went to the Friday afternoon benefit auction only intending to have a look around, but left with six pieces of art pottery: four antique and two contemporary.
And that was all purchased even before Peter Gehres, the auctioneer, had reached the midway point of a 305-lot sale. There were still many bargains to be had, but I had bought all that I could safely carry home in my overnight bag.
I have often thought how we collectors go through rather predictable stages in our collecting. We begin with our initial introduction, often a specific event that remains etched in our memories forever. Mine took place in a basement of an Iowa City home more than 35 years ago, but I can recall the day, the weather, my van, the house, Mrs. Summerwill, and those 12 Roycroft chairs like it was last week.
We then launch ourselves headfirst into a frantic hunt for anything that looks even vaguely like our obsession. I bought anything that was brown, heavy and straight-lined, making several antiques dealers in the Midwest very happy to get rid of some dusty mission oak rockers, library tables, even, to my deepest regret, a two-ton hide-a-bed that shed brittle oak veneer every time I and three of my friends attempted to either move or just open the massive, brown monster.
(Years later, I conveniently left it behind in the basement of a house I had just sold. I was halfway to North Carolina before anyone noticed, and I never looked back.]
We then get smarter and begin doing research, determining the difference between good, better and the best examples. We shed ourselves of our mistakes, thin down our collection, and learn to walk away from duplicates and pieces that are in questionable condition.
At that point our buying slows, as either we get more particular with what we set our sights on, our homes become over-crowded, or the prices skyrocket as other collectors join the fray. It is then that many collectors feel the urge to share with budding collectors the information they have gained through their research and their experience in the field. Some write books and articles. Far more present seminars or volunteer to lead Small Group Discussions at the Grove Park Inn Arts and Crafts Conference, the AAPA Convention, and other events.
But, I recently discovered, for the true collector there is yet another stage.
You start over.
You long for that initial excitement, that flurry of emotions that stirs the latent blood, that nervousness you recalled when the auctioneer finally reaches the lot you wanted to buy, that morning after when you walk into your living room with a cup of coffee and there it is, yours to relish, to appreciate, to enjoy.
And if you haven’t felt those emotions for a long, long time, then you are depriving yourself of some of life’s most exciting joys:
Until next Monday,
Make it a great week!
Photo courtesy of Deco to Disco in Portland, OR.