Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Friday, 16 May 2014
An English Kit Kat wine glass, circa 1730. I'm offering it to an Australian collector for not much money, because it is chipped. Without the chips it would be about £600. There seem to be a lot of English glass collectors in Australia, and I wonder why.
It has been sitting on a shelf for a few years, gathering dust and tormenting me for a variety of reasons.
One of the reasons is that is chipped, but - ironically - it would torment me even more if it wasn't.
The way I get obsessed with things is visually. This explains my childhood and childish obsession with the 1941 Mills grenade. Once obsessed, I stay obsessed for as long as the object is in my possession, and even hiding it out of sight does not stop the nagging knowledge that it is in the house.
The only way I can rid myself of this unsettling, insidious feeling is to get rid of it all together by - for instance - selling it. If the grenade were live and dangerous, then it would only be a matter of time before I got rid of it by pulling out the pin and letting it destroy itself. That would be perfect.
I have had many beautiful and intact Georgian glasses and I have sold them almost as soon as I bought them - or most of them. I cannot stand the torment of owning them but I also cannot stand the idea of giving them away. It is a psychological problem, but not a huge one.
I could never be termed a 'collector' because of this trait. If I was a real collector and had not become bankrupt because of it, then there would be the perfect solution.
Just over the road in the Gallery, there is a wonderful collection of early Georgian drinking glasses, and they were gathered together over many years in the early 20th century by a man who was a traveling insurance agent. He was a true obsessive and a true collector.
The technique he employed to acquire and amass this display was - if he spotted a good glass in the home of a client - to badger the owner to part with it at any cost, and he often made up excuses to visit the house again on 'business', just so he could wear the client down until he gave up and gave it up.
He did this for many years, but finally - and I love this - donated the lot to the Bath museum for no personal gain.
This meant that he always knew where they were to go and look at them, but - more importantly - he did not have to worry about them any longer. They still sit in a cabinet today, cherished but un-curated, side by side in the same random and haphazard way as they were placed in his own little house.
I thought I had mastered this little obsession up until very recently, but the arrival of the grenade and the prospect of parting with this flawed gem proves otherwise. Shit.