"One Piece... Off to the Side"
In December of 1970 I purchased a lot at public auction from Sotheby’s in New York City. The lot was sophisticated and the auction was sophisticated so I must have been sophisticated. The printed pictorial catalog for the auction was sophisticated too.
I purchased the lot. Then I sold the lot. I used the catalog. Then kept the catalog
Every now and then I’d ‘thumb through’. Then... every now and then... I’d “should throw out”. Eventually I had a meeting with myself and
Deduced that ‘throwing out’ was a ‘could be done’ IF I tore out a
Single page picturing nine lots in color. These lots had nothing to do in any way with the lot I had purchased and sold. I never had any inclination to “bid” on those lots. My relationship was... and still is... founded solely on my personal attraction to the nine lots pictured in the catalog’s color plate. I tore out the color plate and have kept it ever since. I long ago threw the catalog out.
What ever happens to an antiquarian someone as they ramble along within ‘the antique interest’, they will always, over and over, ‘desire’ to ‘acquire’: ‘Acquire’ a ...“what ever”... ‘over and over’... due to... ‘desire’. Most of this is blurry and confused with no particular skill shown to one being ‘at this’. Talking about or speaking of this is, too, for the most part, ‘weak’...
....In gaining an actual sense of the... blurry and confused... depth of the... ‘desire’ to ‘acquire’.
This “I tore out” color plate is about that. I have never talked about it or spoke of this... ever... before now... to any one at all for any reason. This is because it is perfectly obvious to me why I retained this catalog plate and ...I do not need any sort of ‘elaborate further’ ...at all.
Even for a “You?”.
Today, I will?
Why don’t we agree that I will “try”
If I cared about the torn out plate’s contents in 1970, then I must have developed a reason for my attention-to-care. Right? I must have had a ‘care’ before discovering the auction lot color plate. I did not just “OH MY!”. No... I must have “knew about”
When? How? But first... about “What?”
Nine pieces of
It is, when I first heard (hear a someone call that something specifically saying a title of “What?”): They said “Canary Luster”. Or was it “Lustre”. YOU know how people are about words like that. Right? Affected. Or effected? Anyway. Some said something and I heard it. It was an old person. I know that because I was a young person. I was in Junior High School (Middle School). I was not doing a project for school. I was... then... buying and selling what I discerned to be “antiques”...
With that frontier edge of art-world-view-I... expanding daily as I listened to what I heard... from old people.
In this particular case I was tagging along and had ‘been brought too’ to a private home of what I came to understand very clearly over several decades... was the home of a “DEALER” who is “very knowledgeable”. I... did not have to say much and was ‘just stand there’ and this allowed me to ‘look around’ and I did that ...obsessively... for the home was very... very full of ‘real antiques’. I... could see that. As I cared for real antiques myself I was ‘fine’ with obsessive looking ...around.
Now... Colonial New England (coastal Maine) homes were ...at that time... “something” I found myself “going in” more... and more. And I did not refine that occurrence myself. No. I just was ever more “in them” (coastal Colonial Maine homes). And it was ritualized to all be sort of a same. I would ‘go in’ and, with the visiting party... AND the head of the home (usually an ‘old person... woman’) we ‘centered’ around the large Colonial fireplace resplendent with... every Colonial Maine “antique fireplace” object the head of home had gathered “DISPLAYED” there with an “ARRANGED” too and... well... a subliminal... “do not touch” ...too. So I looked around and didn’t touch. There was plenty to look at in these ...classic ‘old school’ “Maine” “antiques dealer’s” “homes”.
So...: On this particular I stood my look around and in the course of that I looked at the contents of the fireplace mantel shelf above the fireplace. Carefully. “Carefully” is because I already... in Junior High School... understood that THAT; the mantel shelf ‘stuff on it’ was... IN THIS WORLD (coastal Maine antiques dealer’s home) a sort of laid bare naked IN YOUR FACE statement about “What I know”. And that was a ...”THAT”. The mantel contents was... and... still... is... a billboard sign of “WHAT” “I KNOW”... selected and arranged. Again: It is THAT.
Do not forget this
Do not mistake this
Do not FAKE THIS
Do not make an ass out of yourself by going giddy-goo over ‘someone’s mantel’.
THEY will know who the giddy-goo IS. And you will not. Shut... up... and... LOOK.
There are all kinds of mystical mystic in a ‘good’ mantel display by a ‘she is very knowledgeable’ dealer. One may write for pages about each and every... thing on the damn mantel. My (antiquarian-art) eye rakes mantels in micro seconds... these days and for decades. No problem with that precious antiquarian territory do I have. Today... I am writing about only ONE of objects found on this sort of mantel. ONE... THING: “Canary Lustre”.
What that is ...as I stood in Junior High School awe... is that there...; that woman there... on her mantel... had a... VERY BRIGHT yellow... ‘piece of old china’ that was, too, vibrantly hand paint decorated in green, brown and red stylized flowers and vine... decoration UPON this yellow ground AND had rust-red hand painted ‘banding’ too. Now... right here... I must denote that the “lustre or luster’ issue is compromised here at this rust-red banding because “luster / lustre” is either ‘silver’ or ‘pink’ banding; shiny silver and pink. THIS rust-red banding is not shiny so is... not ...lustre / luster. A MISS TITLE... thus. Remember that and complacently accept that as a classic ‘old school’ “mistake”. Then... learn to love calling it that yourself.
Anyway: Bright Yellow Something on the old woman’s mantel... I SAW. That day. I did not know what it was (other than being “OLD” ‘china’). I did not ask or say anything. Remember that: Canary Lustre generally is never... ever... talked about.
I ‘dumbed’ my way but my antiquarian eye was ‘changed forever’. In two ways. (1) I had ‘seen’ my ‘first piece’ “of Canary” and (2) I had seen it
(A single piece on a Colonial New England fireplace mantel).
When it comes to ‘old china’ in ‘old New England homes’ the this of what I just described is the ultimate ‘up yours bitch’ ‘old Wasp’ declaration of ...
One may have no other china... old china... any china... ANYWHERE EVER ANYWHERE ...AT ALL... EVER... ANY... WHERE... but if one has a single... relic grade fragment of “Canary” on ones mantel.
Sweetheart... you do not have to worry about a thing.
I restate again for clarity. I saw my first piece of HAND PAINT DECORATED (as opposed to transfer [ware] decorated) bright yellow ground “Canary” English “soft paste” ‘china’ and noted too that it was displayed as a single stand alone ‘piece of old china’ on a fireplace mantel in a coastal Colonial Maine home and that... would become my absolute understanding that THAT is the classic correct way (old New England Wasp way)... ‘to display’. And one more note on that: NEVER... IN... THE... CENTER (of the mantel). Always ‘off to the side’ (right or left) ‘on the mantel’. ALWAYS!