Collectors know that collecting is as much about the chase as it is the catch. “The hunt,” as I’ve often heard it referred to, proves as exciting as the capture.
The sentiment is probably greatly overworked. Because, truth told, few collectors would be genuinely unhappy should a collection arrive at their doorstops.
Still, hunt we must, like it or not.
Hitting the road in hot pursuit of the quest means going to antiques shows. Big ones. Little ones. Rinky-dinky ones.
And flea markets. And estate and yard sales. And let’s not forget the thrift shops and consignment stores.
Go to enough shows and one begins to wish for a statute of limitations on dealer inventory: If you’ve carted it to and displayed it at more than four shows, you must put it in auction so someone else can try selling it.
But you never know where or when the great find will turn up.
Here’s one I acquired more than a year ago at a junk shop. I don’t know that it’s “great” – but it is interesting.
A white-colored covered bowl (or vase?). The exterior looks to have been worked with that tool ordinarily used to smear mastic on the subfloor and into which one plops the tiles or linoleum.
The interior is glazed.
Neither fact, though, is what drew my attention. Instead, it was what accompanied the piece: a business card identifying the maker had been tucked inside.
Though signed on the bottom, the card clarified the maker as Grattan Burley, “The Hidden Potter.”
Who cares, right? Not me. Never heard of him.
It was the next line on the card that got me: 6 Laird Lane, Pittsford, NY.
I know that address. It’s Frans WIldenhain’s! At least I was pretty sure it was Frans’s address.
The piece was 20 bucks. I took a flyer. (I’m a sport!) Got it home, compared the card’s address to Frans’s and . . . I was right.
The pot and its card each look to be 1970s vintage.
Unfortunately, I’m no smarter today about Grattan Burley than I was then. I did, however, see a virtually identical piece (no business card), priced $18, at an antiques co-op. After waiting in line for a whole ten minutes to buy it, I impatiently left without it.
Though I doubt this qualifies as “a great find,” it’s certainly an interesting one.
Next time: Frederick Walrath’s connection to Frans Wildenhain.