Copping A Feel

Oh, take it easy. C’mon. Relax. Unknot your shorts.

This is not some 17year old’s fantasy or an investigative report on gel-filled, surgically implanted devices.

We’re professionals here. For cryin’ in the sink!

Geez. To paraphrase Steve Martin: You can’t say anything anymore!

This is about wood (again!) and ceramics. Precious stones and natural (one more time, okay?!) substances.

Despite all the advantages offered by the virtual or digital world, there’s really no substitute for first-person, in-person, empirical inspection.

Particularly when it comes to purchasing antiques, including furniture and decorative objects as well as personal adornments such as jewelry.

One can look at an object and derive certain information. Online, the close-up and zoom function often provide a far better, more revealing set of lenses than the ones stuck in our heads or perched on our noses.

But the digital world doesn’t afford the opportunity to touch that which sits on a screen before you.

Empiricism, knowledge derived from sense experience, includes the sense of touch. Often way, way better than what’s apparent to our eyes, feeling uncovers (hmm) the hairline crack, the disturbed finish, or the trait that discriminates between a real pearl and a factory look-alike.

I like running my hand along a leg while groping the chest . . . of drawers! For Pete’s sake . . . to determine whether or not the piece has been refinished or touched up. Too smooth doesn’t indicate a close shave in this case; it means someone’s gotten at it with Formby’s and four-ought steel wool.

My jewelry dealer friends claim they can discriminate fake from real by running the string of pearls across their teeth. I’m not going to try it. But that’s their claim and their conclusion is always delivered in an authoritative tone.

The beautiful pottery vase possesses exquisite form and pristine decoration. That’s kind of like the cover to a book. Ceramophiles, like bibliophiles, know this isn’t a beauty contest, even if judges do not. Hello Steve Harvey and Miss Universe.

Run your hand around the vase’s rim, fondle its body, touch its base (bottom) and, voila, the post-production defect reveals itself.

Just like that.

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