Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The mystery of history

When I'm not doing important things like wondering if male ladybugs get teased by other insects, I like to watch television. "Antiques Roadshow" is good. It's a talent show for bric-a-brac. It has contestants, judges and scores.

Almost every show, at least one person will be told it'd be worth lots more if they hadn't had it refinished. Doesn't seem to matter what "it" is, not far as I can tell. I've no idea why anyone would get it in their head to refinish a cookie jar, nor even how they'd go about it. I just know they shouldn't have done it is all. Seems to me the show has a contract clause where refinishing must regularly get a "tsk-tsk." Those who refinish things for a living must despise "Antiques Roadshow."

And there'll always be somebody showing up with something so gawdawful ugly I'd be embarrassed for people to know I owned it. It'll turn out to be worth a king's ransom. I've pondered about that a lot, and I have a theory. I think the antiques market is dominated by wealthy blind folks.

Then somebody will arrive with a cherished family heirloom and get their heart broke. My opinion, that's where entertainment value would be greatly enhanced, if that snarky Brit guy from "American Idol" dropped by for a visit. After all, a person's dreams lie crushed & bleeding, isnt it pile-on time? I can hear him now...

"So you thought it was an 18th century French teapot, and it really came from Sears in the early 60's... how pathetic. I bet that's the most valuable thing you own too. Didn't you ever notice it says 'Made in Japan' on the bottom? I'm nauseated from being on the same planet with you."

Coolest thing ever though was the lady with the Russian plates. More saucers really, dessert plates the appraiser called them, and she had a half dozen of them. She said they came from the Winter Palace; her great-grandparents having lived a few miles from it in St. Petersburg in the early 1900's. She was correct; the plates were rather valuable. If she'd just stopped there, I wouldn't remember her at all, but she had a theory how the saucers came into her great-grandparents' possession.

I've always been a sucker for a theory. As a wee lad, I often cried, "Please tell me a bedtime theory?"

"OK. It's my theory dogs can talk just fine. But they don't want to, the snobs. Go to sleep now son."

This woman's theory was that her great-grandparents bought the dessert plates in some sale that was held at the Winter Palace, after the Bolsheviks took power. Well. I'd suspect her great-grandfather was a looter, and a tardy one too, having arrived after all the good stuff was gone. Must've been rough going home to the little woman with a handful of saucers.

Maybe I'm all wrong about it though. As a child of the Cold War, I've been brainwashed by propaganda about the Bolshevik Revolution. Perhaps what happened is the Czar and his entire family died of natural causes on the same day. A sorrowful Lenin said, "What to do with their beautiful belongings? Let's have a yard sale, and use the proceeds to feed the hungry."

Point is, nobody will ever know exactly what happened in 1918 at the Winter Palace. Only thing we'll ever know for sure is don't get those plates refinished Lady. That'd be a bad idea.

No comments: