A Conversation Between Two Professional Thrift Shoppers
"How Cheap It Is"
“It’s time now... for you to go back to the plates; the pie plate and... well... what do I call it... its surrounding plates? Is that it?”
“Well...the OTHER plates, at least. The OTHER plates that relate to that pie plate that could as well have been sitting TOO... right next to the Rouen Delft charger (Part 12 [B])... in the thrift store china isle. Ha, ha. This... is it a feature of antiques (and art)... for an object to spin away from a single object’s design merit by bringing the design of other related objects into play?”
“It’s a feature. One object relating to other objects... by design... and those objects having merit too. Some having more merit. Some having less. Identification and perception of design heritage must be applied and that’s with the understanding that we (she speaking and I), for the most part, automatically apply design relations to one object with other objects right when we find the object. You (referring the conversation recorder I) just didn’t mention it.”
“I said I was going to bring in more plates (Part 12 [C]).”
“Yeah but then you went off on the risk tangent (Parts Twelve [A-D]). I know that’s important to this too. Funny how cash valuation is affected by the reach of design beyond a single object; by its, sort of, ‘fellow travelers’.”
“Well... this does affect an object’s value and, too, its marketplace status.”
“Well... this does affect an object’s value and, too, its marketplace status.”
“It means, beyond cash value, how an object fits into the antiques or art marketplace. It’s place beyond cash: The who sells it to who for how much and why. That includes an object... not being able to be... sold at all. That; this last, is very prevalent in the marketplace but very few follow it. We have to.”
“Absolutely have to. We have to know exactly where and how one object’s design relates to it’s ...related... object’s design. And how that affects it in the marketplace.”
“It’s nasty. But for most people, they never notice the influence. That’s because either they don’t have the object or ...they don’t understand (the design relation of an object they have to) the other objects, related by their design, to their object. And how it affects their object in the marketplace including the cash value and even as to if that object can be sold at all.”
“This all takes place for us in seconds and we don’t even dwell on it. Right?”
“Right. It’s the biggest qualifier of the ‘getting top dollar’. Your not going to get it. We’re not going to get it. We don’t even try. Why? Well... we just told everyone that what WE find in thrift stores, although ‘good’ and ‘valuable’, is not actually that GOOD (Part 12 [D]). So... it will not sell for ‘a real lot’. NOW we’re coming back to qualify that by saying that PAST our initial design identification of the object, we also surround that object with design considerations from other related design objects. That is... we are applying a THIRD factor to our single thrift shop find here being the Rouen Delft charger that was used as a pie plate. First we apply design identification, then we apply the marketplace understanding that it (any object we find in a thrift store) ISN’T that good and NOW we are applying design again. This time it’s the design of the other objects related to our find by THEIR design. Once we do that, we have a further marketplace (cash) valuation... and that we have... mentioned... may include that object... being unable to be sold for ANY cash value in the market place.”
“WHAT? Ha, ha. NOW you find out that after doing all this hunting for antiques and art in thrift shops that after you do all that and find something you think (feel) is ‘good’ and can prove it... you cannot sell it? Yeah: That’s it.”
“That’s it alright. I’m gonna notice some companion plates to the design of this find (the Rouen charger)... and it’s marketplace value. Starting with the Rouen French Delft charger that was used as a pie plate, I first, in my mind’s design-I-know eye... compare that to old 18th century ‘Delft’: English, Dutch, other (Belgian), French, Southern European... Mediterranean, Spanish... and... I know that English is best (by design standards and market value) with the others following in order. The Rouen charger is ‘way down’ on the ‘good design’ scale. I’m not going to explain that.
“You know what: I AM gonna take a dig here. English is better than Dutch. The market supports that. Why? Because English Delft decoration is... I choose this word... ‘dainty’ compared to Dutch. Dutch Delft decoration tends to ...feel... ‘forced’. My word again. It is, when first observed, very subtle. The design eye, educated, turns this ‘subtle’ into ‘severe’ once... studied. What is the dig? This same dainty – forced ratio is found... in old New England... home... interiors. Dainty is old New England. Forced is when ‘they’ ‘try’ to ...old New England... their interior. The educated eye... cannot miss this... faux pas of New England home decoration. Decoration of the home in old New England must have a VERY dainty hand... following the same dainty school of English Delft decoration versus the ‘forced’ ‘Dutch’. And... this is noticed ‘beneath the clutter’. This last is a signiture... upon... the dainty interiors. This is not learned overnight but when it is learned... it is severe... to the eye... when discerned. What’s the marketplace (cash value) on THIS? Old New England is not... and cannot be... bought at a store. Decorating an old New England home is... ‘I can’t buy it’. One 'collects' it. A lot of people try... to do this (buy it)... and it ‘looks wrong’ because it is ‘forced’. This may not seem like much of a dig... but it’s a real stinger, As I said relative to the third issue of the thrift store finds... it, too, is ‘very few follow it’ and ‘nasty’.”
“Ok enough of that. Back to the plates, Toto. They don’t want to hear about how much their home décor sucks. But that’s easy to avoid: Never let an art professional in your home. That way the card will never be turned over and no one will ever know. Ha, ha.”
“Ok: Plates. Next, after Delft, we have the old New England true slip decorated and clear lead glazed ‘redware’ ‘pie plate’. This is the classic New England pie plate. ‘Late,’ it first appeared as a design form after 1760 although apple pie was a table staple by then. Most New England pie plates were made in Connecticut. While that was taking place, Delft as table china was ‘disappearing’ due to English Staffordshire type earthenware (design) innovation. Unable to adopt those innovations, the French ‘improved’ the decoration of their ‘Delft’ by, simply, taking more time to decorate ‘more carefully’. The Rouen basket of flowers logo continues but is on a ‘prettier’ plate. This does not compete well and ...slowly... disappears as a design form as the French ‘copy’ the English earthenware - transferware. But... the French ‘Rouen’ flower basket design becomes an iconic design classic... still found in thrift shop china isles as ‘new’ plates to this day. That is... it (this design logo) is on... NEW china. Too. Meanwhile, the ‘Pie Plate’ as a design form becomes imbedded in New England and... can be found in... very... many design traditions... most commonly understood as ‘old’ ‘pie’ (cooking) ‘tin’.
“Yikes. What’s the dollar value on those?”
“An old tin pie plate? Well... they do sell. And: People still use them (old pie tins).
“Do you sell them?”
“Do you buy them?”
“No. Those I ‘get’. And I know the difference between ‘buy’ and ‘get’.”
“So do I. THAT is a marketplace just by itself.”
“So what does all this mean to the ...old French Delft charger... in the junk china isle of the local thrift store? Huh? What? Well... it means that in terms of the ...antiquarian marketplace dollar-to-spend... that old charger has competition ‘in the market’. OTHER design, including ‘signiture’ or near ‘logo’ design types DIRECTLY compete for the same... ‘turn that thrift store find into cash’ dollar. Dollars... interest, decorative values... the ‘I like it’ factor... often headed off by the ‘I DON’T like it’ factor on to ‘stupid’, ‘ignorant’, ‘don’t know’ on to... on to... on to the privileged echelon of ‘I know but who cares?” continuing to the THRONE seat of ‘NO ONE CARES!’... with their wallet about... my ‘God damn stupid old busted 18th century charger-pie plate even if it is pictured TWICE by historic Deerfield'... AND has ‘fragments’ dug up in an old outhouse.”
“That means what? They (a buyer) would rather have a ‘new one’?”
“No... it means that the actual cash value I can ‘get’ ‘now’ for a thrift shop find, of any sort, IS affected by this second realm of design criteria combining with the ‘not that good’ feature to... slow... the ACTIVE buyers down by including the ‘depends on how cheap the price is’. I ...and you too (She)... constantly sell ‘below market’ on virtually all of our finds simply to ...actually sell it.”
“Constantly. The only price I give. It has to be ‘cheap’... unless it is ‘actually good’.”
“What’s an actually good?”
“Here... it would be a true English polychrome (color) charger... ‘perfect’. That’s the only thing these days that I can push (put a high dollar price). Even great Dutch polychrome Delft ‘falls back’ in the market. I can’t push it. They (the collector)... for their dollar will ‘wait’ for ‘English’. EVEN IF THEY WILL NEVER FIND IT they ‘will wait’. It’s as simple as that. But... if you show the books around on that Rouen charger and... AND... give a ‘Huh... that’s not so bad’ price... it sells. Right?”
“Right. Are we cheap (antiquarian) whores.”
“I think so. But... WE get to FIND the stuff... and that’s a gas.”