#1 and #2: Examples of some ways of seeing things

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Posted by Steve Price on December 15, 1998 at 08:06:15:

In Reply to: PICS1 and 2: A Target to Shoot At posted by R. John Howe on December 15, 1998 at 05:57:47:

Dear Friends,

Up to now, we have three opinions on #1 and #2: Marvin Amstey, John Howe and Jim Allen. Marvin and John both find #1 to be crudely done and rather unattractive (as do I, in case anyone cares), notwithstanding the fact that it is probably considerably older than #2. This, in itself, ought to be of passing interest to those who believe that age and aesthetic appeal are virtually synonymous to collectors.

Jim, on the other hand, sees #2 as commercial and of trivial significance, but #1 as an early, authentic expression of the culture from which it comes. He clearly would rather own #1 than #2, John, Marvin and I clearly would rather own #2 than #1. If my recollection of VANISHING JEWELS is accurate, Marvin's wish has been granted.

I believe that the different preferences shown among this little group of Turkmenophiles is a particularly nice illustration of how our aesthetic preferences are colored by factors external to the physical characteristics (color, drawing, wool quality, etc.) of the piece per se. To John, Marvin and me, these are objects first of all, and while their ethnohistorical significance is interesting and of some importance, it is not the overriding factor in our appreciation of them. To Jim, the ethnographic significance of #2 makes its aesthetics fairly sing to him.

I simply offer these thoughts as observations on what motivates collectors, since it relates so closely to our previous discussion of ethnographic rugs. I hope it will not precipitate any lengthy dissertations.

Steve Price

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