Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Chinoiserie


I parked my car yesterday, and as I walked past a nearby charity shop, I saw this leaning against a wall - outside - so stopped to take a closer look.

It is a really good quality lacquered tray with real gilded sides, and at over two feet long, is pretty large as well. I picked it up and went inside, and the woman said that I was the first person to show any interest in it all day. I asked how much and she said £3, so I bought it and ran off.

A little later as I was gloating over it, I decided that it is probably from the Regency period, when China produced quite a lot of stuff for the European market and when Europeans followed the fashion of having Chinese-style rooms, complete with imported wall-paper - Eynsham Hall has just such a room, albeit from a later date but modelled on the Regency period style.

It is quite solidly made from single pieces of heavily lacquered wood, and the band of decoration is an applied strip of metal which has been mercury-gilded. There is gold-leafing to the surrounding woodwork too, and the whole thing is in not too bad condition, with a few easily repaired scuzzings which I don't really mind as signs of wear and tear.

I know nothing about this type of thing, and we almost never use trays in our compact but adorable city apartment, but now it sits on a table, shining warmly in the late September sun, just looking decorative.

£3... I can only put my good fortune down to the fact that it was placed so incongruously and carelessly in the street, that nobody but me gave it a second glance. It only strengthens my belief that the best way of preserving things of extreme interest or beauty is to show no interest in them whatsoever.

I'm not sure I was the right person, but it was me who came along in the end. I wonder why its previous owner thought so little of it that they left it outside a charity shop?


26 comments:

  1. I've changed the title of this post, because the original one made me sound like some sort of brat - which I suppose I must be.

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    1. I did a double take, thought you had written about something else and then I found it was still about a tray. I am trying to think of something intelligent to say about it. The edging looks interesting.

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    2. That's a good enough comment, especially since your on holiday.

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  2. The heirs and assigns consigned it to the charity shop, I'll bet.

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    1. I think you are right, Joanne - my sister tried to give away a load of antiques when my parents died.

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  3. Nice find! Isn't it great when such things turn up unexpectedly. I felt like that with my little Masonic box recently.

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  4. Well you hear of it all the time on programmes like 'Flog it' - where did it come from the 'expert' asks - 'bought it for 50p at a car boot sale' is often the reply.
    Often these finds come from house clearance too. I think in this case it is 'fortune favours the prepared mind' Tom - you recognised its worth.

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    1. True, Weave. I have an eye, but it is far from trained.

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  5. "… so I bought it and ran off" - aren't you supposed to be an invalid now? The tray is very nice, though. I like it.

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    1. I don't run on my head, even though an army marches on its stomach. Anyway, 'run' was poetic licence.

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  6. What a great find, Tom....it's beautiful!
    I like things that have a bit of wear and tear....it shows that they were used and loved.

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    1. Yes, Sherry. If I look at a used car engine that is too clean, I get suspicious.

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  7. Truly a well-deserved find, you connoisseur, you!

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  8. Chinoiserie is one of my favourite words despite not being much of a fan in general. However......I do like the tray - will you be ebay-ing it???

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    1. No, for the time being we will be keeping it.

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    1. I agree, Megan. I get about 4 finds a year like that, but I do spend a lot of time trawling around looking for them.

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  10. Replies
    1. Do you? Just out of interest, why do you hate it?

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    2. The sheen?! Are you sensitive to sheens?

      The best Japanese lacquerers used to row to the middle of a lake to do their work, just to obtain the best sheen possible.

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    3. I bet if I offered to send it to you as a gift, you'd snap it up with both paws. It is the perfect chintz for your compact but adorable rural hovel.

      Think Robert Kime. Think Downton Abbey. Think Clarence House.

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    4. Think breakfast in bed. Think Martin Sheen.

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