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

Lonely Teapot Seeks Lid

Is there a point at which an object stops being a piece of art or craft or an antique and becomes something which is only fit for landfill? Is there a level of damage at which the item’s condition is simply unacceptable to the collector, who is compelled to discard it regardless of its other merits? It seems not. Here’s the proof: I have bought a teapot with no lid. Twice. … More Lonely Teapot Seeks Lid


This is a cautionary tale. It starts with a fox, who has been a regular visitor to our garden in recent weeks. It causes no trouble, and I have no desire to hunt it or kill it or destroy it. In this respect my feelings towards it are entirely unlike the emotions which I experience in relation to a second Fox which has just come into my life, along with a Badger, a Mole, a Squirrel and a Rabbit. No, there isn’t a Toad as well. We’re not in Wind in the Willows or Toad of Toad Hall territory. Neither, sadly, are we in the Hundred Acre Wood with Christopher Robin, Pooh and Piglet. Instead, we’re in my local auction room where, last Saturday, I accidentally bought an object of unparalleled hideousness. … More Stuffed

Birds on Pots

One day last week the door of the summer house was left open and a garden bird got in amongst my pots. I was able to take his photograph as he rested momentarily on the top rim of a large stoneware jug. Cute, eh? Seeing a real live bird perched on a jug prompted me to look through my collection for some other examples of birds on pots…
More Birds on Pots

Meet Marguerite

Meet Marguerite. Or perhaps you know her as Gretchen. She was modelled by the sculptor Sarah Terry in 1868 and manufactured by W T Copeland and Sons, owners of the Spode factory in Stoke-on-Trent. She’s made in parian, a bright white ceramic material. But Marguerite doesn’t look like a parian figure. Instead, she looks like she’s made of patinated bronze. I wonder why? … More Meet Marguerite

The Book as Artefact

Usually a book is just a book, but sometimes it is a rare and special object in itself, regardless of the meaning or significance of the words inside it. It might be old, or rare, or a first edition, or with special provenance, or a fine binding, or any combination of the above. Here are two very special books for your inspection. Both are editions of the Book of Common Prayer, one from 1760 and one from 1850. Both are exceptional examples of quality and innovation in printing and design, important landmarks in the development of the printed book. Which book – or perhaps I should say which artefact – do you like better? … More The Book as Artefact

Blue and White Blues

Ten thousand years from now, interstellar archaeologists are exploring Old Earth for scant remains of early human civilisations. In the ruins of a primitive computer server facility they find a single memory card which has survived the ravages of time. It contains the Random Treasure blog. They begin to read. It’s the Great Lockdown of 2020 and the blogger’s got the blues … … More Blue and White Blues