Chapter Summary


Chapter 1: The Saint, 1426 – 2012.   The Saint’s origins; its maker Claus de Werve and its early history; disappearance in Revolutionary France; a reconstructed story of how it came to Scotland and ended up in an auction room in Leith.

Chapter 2: The Myth of Provenance.   Why provenance might or might not matter; issues of ownership and problems surrounding stolen or looted art; saleroom etiquette; the benefits of bidder anonymity; discovering the Saint’s provenance.

Chapter 3: The Jug 1926 – 2007.   Bernard Leach and Michael Cardew and their relationship; a description of The Jug; lack of provenance for The Jug and how objects become detached from their identities.

Chapter 4: The Buzz.   A typical auction viewing and some of the objects viewed; the discovery of an early Scottish bible; definition and analysis of “The Buzz”; three examples of objects bought where the Buzz resulted in doubt and disappointment.

Chapter 5: Buying and Selling The Jug, 2007.   Credentials for buying The Jug; viewing and spotting The Jug; pre-sale research; bidding for and buying The Jug; post-purchase research; consignment and re-sale at Bonham’s.

Chapter 6: The Eye.   An analysis of whether there is such a thing as “an eye for an antique”; three autobiographical vignettes exploring aspects of the author’s Eye; an attempt to provide a definition.

Chapter 7: Buying The Saint, 2012.   Spotting The Saint at an auction viewing; pre-sale research when you don’t know where to start; buying The Saint; tentative steps towards identification; seeking the views of experts; progress and an emotional breakthrough.

Chapter 8: Collector or dealer?   An exploration of whether the author should be categorised as a collector or a dealer; some alternative behavioural explanations: the hoarder, the connoisseur, the dilettante.

Chapter 9: Consigning The Saint, 2012 – 2013.   A journal of events in the weeks between identification of The Saint and consignment for re-sale in Paris; the excitement of authentication; concerns and worries about re-sale.

Chapter 10: The Norm.   A methodology for measuring normal behaviour; the imaginary Reacher-Collyer Hoarding Scale to measure non-acquisitive versus hoarding behaviour;  the imaginary Goldbrick-PennyRed Collecting Scale to measure investment versus collecting behaviour; calibrating the author on the two scales.

Chapter 11: Selling The Saint, 2013.   The history of the Drouot organisation and the complex French auction system; the auction of The Saint in Paris;  interruption: The Big Red Vase; the fall of the hammer.

Chapter 12: The Aesthete.   An attempt to analyse the aesthetic response to antiques and works of art; an example of a strong response to a specific object; deciding which objects to keep and which to sell; reasons and justifications for selling The Jug and The Saint.

Chapter 13: Value.   How an object accumulates value or fails to do so; examples from the author’s collection; a comparison of two rare 17th century psalters.

Chapter 14: Qualms.   Moral and ethical issues and uncertainties; discomforts engendered by bagging a bargain; charity shops and charitable giving; sale to public or private collections; philanthropy; collective ownership of art objects.

Chapter 15: Afterwards.   How to deal with an unexpected profit; VAT, taxation and frustration; what to say to interested bystanders; handling anti-climax and returning to a kind of normality.


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