This is a luckenbooth. It’s a brooch. As well as being a brooch, a luckenbooth is a Scottish love token, some buildings, a dance, a novel, and a popular design motif in the art of the Iroquois people of North America. There are a lot of intermingled stories here which will require some unpicking. … More Luckenbooth


This Japanese tea-bowl or chawan is the only interesting object in a recent auction job lot. I know little about Japanese ceramics and have no expertise to describe them or express opinions. So I should keep very quiet and not even make the attempt. OK. I’ll give it a go … … More Chawan

Seating for 78

Hearing about a large house furnished with 70 chairs, I determined to count the seats in my more modest home to check if this was a serious over-provision. Outcome: it seems my suburban semi-detached house can amply provide seating for 78. So here’s a reader challenge: how many seats do you have in your home? … More Seating for 78

Utility Paradox

Here are two small tables. Stylistically they couldn’t be much more different from each other. One is bright, lightweight and minimalist, the other is dark, heavy and traditional. And yet in many ways, they are the same table. Sorry to get all paradoxical, but stick with the story and you’ll see what I mean. … More Utility Paradox


My wife and I and our neighbours have a new passion that makes our Covid-restricted evenings pass in a rush, and fills our daylight hours with purpose and excitement. All four of us have become obsessed with K-Dramas, TV box sets made in South Korea. They are addictive. Once you’re a few episodes into your first series, you will discover that K-Dramas possess such a high bingeability quotient that you can’t get by without your daily fix. … More K-Confession

Hidden in plain sight: Part 2

Burglar Bill, a fictional housebreaker, has returned home from a successful nocturnal outing. His haul includes five pieces stolen from a strange house filled with very unfamiliar objects: my house. There is a vase, a plate, an old book, four small black-and-white prints in a frame, and a rug. He regards the results of his night’s work with satisfaction. But could he have done better? Has he missed some treasures hidden in plain sight? And has this expedition altered the course of his life? … More Hidden in plain sight: Part 2

Hidden in plain sight: Part 1

I do not possess any great treasures. Most objects in my collections can be valued at single-digit price points, a few in tens of pounds, a very few at a hundred pounds or more, and many at zero pounds. I wouldn’t expect a non-specialist to distinguish at a glance between specimens worth £100 and those worth nothing. You need to know something about my stuff to understand that some of it isn’t what most of it looks like: trash only fit for landfill. So if a burglar entered my house seeking objects of value, how would he identify the best pieces to place in his swag-bag? … More Hidden in plain sight: Part 1


Random Treasure blog readers know that I derive a great deal of pleasure from beautiful objects. But what do I mean by the term beautiful? I wouldn’t be surprised if you think my latest £4.99 charity shop purchase is very non-beautiful. I’m prepared for you to use adjectives such as: ugly, ungainly, muddy, inelegant, clumsy, formless, useless. If that’s what you think about my new stoneware tankard, then you’re entitled to your opinion. But, of course, you’re absolutely wrong, except in one respect. I do agree that it’s useless. … More Tankards

A Surfeit of Randomness

Sometimes, not often, the quest for Random Treasure becomes stressful. It isn’t supposed to be like this. What should be happening is that I meander through a fulfilling and self-indulgent retirement, doing what gives me pleasure and satisfaction at a pace and in a manner which suits me and my inclination and my whim.
That’s mostly how it goes, but recently, much less so. I have been under pressure from taking on too many lines of enquiry all at the same time. It has all been rather harassing. But at the same time, it has all been very enjoyable… … More A Surfeit of Randomness