12 Jan

fanI do not claim to live a minimalist lifestyle. I have stuff. Most of it is stuff I want, not stuff I need. But I like to think that the stuff that is not necessary is not completely superfluous since it was acquired because of its personal meaning. It reminds me of a unique event, a special person, or a meaningful place. Simply looking at this stuff makes me happy because I am immersed in wonderful memories.

Which brings me to Lot 767 in today’s sale at our local auction house. Described as “a group of twelve antique Japanese watercolour fan designs with seal signature” in the online catalog, the above photo (not my own today, sorry) triggered a mild want because I so thoroughly enjoyed the three years Jim and I lived in Japan. But when I went to the auction house last night for the preview and actually saw all twelve designs, want became WANT. There is one hand-painted design for each month of the year, and they all bring back vivid memories of our experiences in the Land of the Rising Sun (well, except for July’s painting of the man with the monkey—that one just makes me scratch my head).

Jim and I discussed and agreed upon our maximum bid for this lot, and normally we’d be confident this figure would be sufficient to procure the paintings. However, today’s auction is the annual Country House Auction, meaning they’re offering up 1151 lots of the highest quality furniture, art, jewelry, and effects that they’ve accumulated in the past year. Instead of being limited to the crowd on hand in the auction house, this specialist sale is also live on the internet, so there are bidders running up credit card bills all over the world. As I write this (in my jammies as an internet bidder), the auction is in full swing, and prices are high. By high, I don’t mean outrageous—items are selling for a fair price given their quality, but the hammer prices are incredibly steep compared to the winning bids at the fortnightly general sales we usually attend. However, there is no rhyme or reason to what the buyers are willing to spend their money on this morning. In my world, cars cost more than furniture, but a late-model Jaguar S-type just sold for £1000, while an early 20th century oak dresser went for a staggering £13,000! I fear my maximum bid for the Japanese fan designs, which is solidly in the triple digits and high by our normal standards, is going to be blown out of the water in a matter of seconds.

Update 8:30 p.m.

*sigh* My prediction was spot on. The fans sold for 150% of my upper limit. I can’t say I’m not disappointed—I’d already mentally matted, framed, and hung my win (I was actually just going to frame one with a reclosable backing, and switch out the monthly designs through the year). For now, that spot on my wall might be empty but my head and heart are full of happy memories stirred up by those fan designs. I’m feeling inspired to delve into my Rubbermaid bin of Japanese mementos and to finally organize the chaos it contains into some sort of display to be seen and enjoyed. I may not have gotten the fans I wanted, but maybe I now have the motivation I needed to tackle one more project that had fallen victim to procrastination.

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Posted by on January 12, 2013 in Uncategorized


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