Thursday 21 March 2013


I love this story. Truly is one man’s (or woman’s) trash, another man’s treasure. Recently a bowl that was bought at a yard sale for $3 sold at auction for...wait for it, $2.2 million dollars. I’m not mathematician, but that is one tidy profit.

As it turns out, this small white bowl with some detailing on it turned out to be a rare Chinese artifact referred to as a ‘Ding Bowl’ and is an example of Northern Song Dynasty pottery. Obviously when the purchaser bought it from the yard sale they had no clue it was over 1000 years old. But after possessing it for a while and becoming curious about where it came from, they took it somewhere to be appraised. And voila, a bidding war later, the past owner of this little bowl is now sunning him/herself in Barbados getting their feet rubbed.

It does raise some interesting questions about the worth of things and more importantly the worth we place on things. If this owner had never been curious, to them this little artifact would have been stuffed full of sushi rice or sat on the shelf and been a nice little trinket they picked up from a yard sale. I’m sure the owner thought it was beautiful and some of her neighbor pals may have remarked upon it when entering the room ‘what a pretty little white bowl,’ but I’ll bet you $2.2 million dollars no one thought it was worth that.

Funny thing is, once we put a price tag on things and more importantly attach a history to something, suddenly mere bowls become ancient relics. I’m always fascinated when things like this happen in terms of how it changes how we perceive things. The 'sweet' become 'beautiful', the 'unique' become 'rare' and 'priceless', the 'innocuous and mundane' suddenly find themselves being called rare works of art. You see what some history can do to an item.

I know I’m not the only one suddenly going through their piles of so-called trinkets and junk (not that I have piles, OCD folk don’t do piles of junk. It’s well ordered) wondering if they too picked up something valuable at a yard sale. Then again, we went to a nearly new sale last weekend, but I’m pretty sure that the trough of Lego we picked up and large plastic truck the King clung onto with all his might is not going to cause a bidding war – okay, perhaps amongst toddlers, but not rare art dealers. 
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